BANBRIDGE Rangers Reserves did a Bayern Munich on Saturday afternoon when they lead by a goal going into stoppage time at the end of the game - but managed to succumb to two goals in the space of three minutes.
Warrenpoint Town brought a very strong side to Cheney Park on Saturday afternoon and Rangers knew they would in for a tough game from the start.
In the first half Banbridge Rangers had Ivon Blevins to thank for keeping them in the tie as he saved no less than four one on ones with great positioning and reactions. Apart from the lapses in concentration on the break the Gers were able to give as good as the got and scored the opener with ten minutes to go in the half as Andy McLarty nipped in between centre half Kieran McParland and his keeper with a deft touch leaving him with the easiest of tap ins.
In the second half Warrenpoint found an equaliser after four minutes when their first corner of the game was driven low to the front post where their striker was on hand to tap in from two yards out. This didn’t deter Rangers who continued to match the Point all over the pitch with Wayne Nelson making two vital last ditch tackles to keep his side in the game.
At the other end of the pitch Rangers looked dangerous on the counter attack with Andy and Dean Mallen both spreading the ball into the channels and causing frictions in the Warrenpoint backline. A quick break with twenty minutes to go saw Andy McLarty go past the last defender and side step the keeper before slotting in his seventh goal of the season for the Reserves to make it 2-1. Several injuries created a reshuffle in the Gers pack as they looked to hold out after losing a two goal lead in the previous game.
Another counter attack with three minutes of normal time remaining saw Robbie Baird burst past two defenders with lightning speed before evading the keeper but he struck the outside of the post from an acute angle. As the game moved into injury time Warrenpoint were camped deep in Rangers half and a deep cross from their right back saw Paddie Smith rise highest and direct his header into the far bottom corner to level the scores.
From the restart Warrenpoint pressed forward but a breakway saw Andy McLarty have the run off the half and only had the keeper to beat and secure the win for Rangers but got under his shot and put it high and wide into the fence behind. From the goalkeepers kick Warrenpoint were able to launch an attack with seconds to go and when the ball ricocheted to the influential Smith again he took a touch and curled around a mass of bodies to seal a win against all odds for Warrenpoint with the referee blowing the final whistle as the ball nestled in the Rangers net.
This was a heartbreaking defeat for Banbridge Rangers who have shown all season that they can compete with every team in the league bar runaway leaders Armagh City. This week the return league fixture to Warrenpoint Town will kick off at 2.15pm.