'˜I called it' laughs Academy star after Burney Cup win
Banbridge Academy are the Burney Cup champions - and one player predicted how.
Dylan Cowan netted the winning penalty stroke after the Academy and Sullivan played out a 1-1 draw at Comber Road.
Jake Rowe had given Bann the lead but John Matchett levelled before the break.
That ultimately sent the match to penalties, when goalkeeper Luke Roleston saved twice to allow Cowan to tuck home the winner.
“I actually called it this morning,” the scorer laughed afterwards. “I told mum I was going to score the fourth stroke to win it. She couldn’t believe it.”
It was a game that neither side deserved to lose. Both had periods of pressure, the Academy driven forward by Rowe’s direct running and a feisty forward display by Mark Barlow.
Rowe got his reward on 21 minutes when he blasted an unstoppable drag into the bottom corner. That’s been a powerful weapon for Bann all season and the midfielder didn’t need asked twice to underline his prowess.
They had opportunities to further the lead, not least when Rowe found Nathan Liggett unmarked in the circle. The forward couldn’t repeat his semi-final goal as Max McCone was out well to block.
The Sullivan stopper’s efforts paid off double just two minutes later when Matchett flicked home a close range finish from a telling Ross Hancock cross.
And the Hollywood side started the second half the way they ended the first - on top. Only a wonder-save from Rolestone stopped them taking the lead. After he blocked a Hancock effort, he was at full stretch to deny Ben Cree’s rebound.
Fired on by the almost unplayable Adam McAllister, Sullivan stormed relentlessly forward. Only more heroics from Roleston kept out Matchett from one of the moves of the match, linked by Matthew Crookshanks and Callum Carson.
The nervy game exploded into life as it edged toward extra-time. First Sullivan won a corner and Robin Watts’ blasted effort was deflected wide.
They went one better in the first period of extra-time when Matchett hit the back-board. His effort, however, was promptly ruled out for a stray foot.
Another corner followed but Academy captain and impressively solid defender Andrew Bennington ferociously charged down the shot.
There was still time for another Roleston block before Bann created a last gasp chance of their own.
It was a penalty corner and Rowe’s shot was destined for the net before McDonnell deflected it over to send the game to strokes, although his side would ultimately be frustrated.
“In the first half of extra-time I was nervous because we had gone three at the back which left us open,” explained Roleston. “(Mark) Cordner (Coach) gave us the respect, listened to us and let us change it. Thankfully that paid off. It’s so good to win it.”