Gr-eight day for Gers as they go top
Banbridge Rangers 8
A CROWD of over 130 supporters braved the freezing fog on Saturday at Cheney Park and were treated to a footballing masterclass with Banbridge Rangers sweeping aside Broomhedge with no less than eight goals without reply.
The superb team performance elevated Banbridge Rangers to the top spot in Mid Ulster Intermediate B with the two full backs stealing the limelight with outstanding contributions at both ends of the pitch which saw Jonny Porter rewarded with his first goal for the club.
Banbridge Rangers' Willie Frazer occupied the opposite flank from full back and was relentless in crafting numerous opportunities for the Rangers front men on Saturday. Frazer's initial venture forward on five minutes saw his shot crash off the post with the rebound being finished off clinically by striker Gareth Fulton for Rangers first goal off the afternoon.
A scrappy 15 minute period followed as Broomhedge tried to quell the threat and movement from Rangers but on 22 minutes Chris Loney's weighted ball found Jason Gourley onside who fired home low for his 11th goal of the season to double the home advantage.
On 25 minutes Frazer was again the architect, picking out Neil Clydesdale just inside the 18 yard box and Clydesdale made no mistake with his first time effort which nestled in the top corner of the net.
Before the half hour mark Frazer again tried to pick out a Clydesdale run but the Broomhedge left back tried to chest inside the box which dropped nicely for Fulton who smashed home a half volley past to score his second and Rangers' fourth goal of the game.
The next couple of chances wouldn't look out of place at the Emirates as the Blue half of Banbridge kicked into gear with some terrific first time passing and movement. Broomhedge could have been five down on 31 minutes when Gourley crashed a half volley off the crossbar before being involved in arguably the miss of the season only five minutes later. A neat flick by McMinn in the centre of the park released Colin Cousins who found Frazer on the overlap with the cross running across the net two yards out with Gourley misjudging the ball as the keeper looked on.
The second half saw Broomhedge try to impose themselves on the Rangers players but within 10 minutes of the restart the away side had conceded a penalty. Right back Jonny Porter was handed the opportunity to put his name into the Rangers record books and coolly dispatched his penalty into the bottom left hand corner with the crowd chanting his name in recognition of his efforts over the last four and a half years at the club.
Porter was instrumental in the next chance as he found Loney's run with an inch perfect through ball with Gourley putting the resultant cross wide of the upright.
On 58 minutes Gareth Fulton showed touches of Gascoigne, lifting the ball over the last defender with his right foot before his left footed volley was parried onto the post by the Broomhedge keeper.
A lapse in concentration almost allowed Broomhedge the chance of a consolation goal two minutes later but Porter produced a brilliant covering block to save another clean sheet for Ivon Blevins who then pulled off a point blank save a minute later as Broomhedge looked threatening for the first time.
On 67 minutes Rangers scored their sixth with centre half Chris Chambers picking out Gourley at the back post from a free kick with Gourley nodding down for Richie McMinn who swept in his fourth goal from the last seven games.
Banbridge Rangers manager Geordie McCallister made three substitutions with James Beck, Bradley Hughes and 16 year old Stephen Copes making his second appearance for the team after his debut in the Irish Cup earlier in the season.
McCallister's faith in youth provided dividends almost immediately when Copes smashed home Rangers' seventh goal of the game after Chris Loney had an initial shot well blocked by the keeper.
Just after the 80 minute mark the other two subs combined with Bradley Hughes latching onto a Beck throw on the edge of the area and showed immense technical ability to turn his maker, nick the ball past the last defender with the inside of his boot before bending the ball into the far top corner with the outside from 15 yards out.
The 8-0 rout could have been more when Stephen Copes raced through onside from the half way line and saw the keeper agonisingly touch his well driven shot wide of the post.
Banbridge Rangers had three further chances to take the score line into double figures but were squandered by the away sides change of goalkeeper.
All 14 players showed the credentials to take the team to the top of the league but special mention must also go to the centre half pairing of Chris Chambers and captain Darren Clarke who marshalled the defence well and showed why Banbridge Rangers have best defence record in the country.
This Saturday Banbridge Rangers will entertain Ballymacash at Cheney Park for the second time this season in the quarter final of the Alan Wilson Cup. After the 5-1 win on the opening day of the season Rangers will be hoping to carry their prolific form into the cup.
Supporters are reminded that kick off is at the earlier time of 1.30pm.