BANBRIDGE Town’s stuttering start to the season is well and truly behind them!
Having extended their unbeaten league run to six matches with another impressive and thoroughly professional performance the Crystal Park men have served notice that they intend to continue their climb up the table and - whisper it - challenge for honours!
Showing one enforced change from last week’s win at Annagh Utd, young central defender Martin Buchanan coming in as a direct replacement for the unavailable Stuart Thompson, they got off to the perfect start when with barely a minute on the clock the aforementioned Buchanan raced into the visitor’s box to power a tremendous header from a Paul Walsh cross past the helpless Rogan to put Town 1-0 ahead.
How often this season have we seen Walsh race down the left and send tantalising crosses into the danger area? More often than not they cause mayhem in the opponents area and it is only now that Town are beginning to avail of the promptings of the talented winger.
Stunned Chimney Corner rallied and Stephen Croft held a long range shot from McGrogan in their first real attack. The Antrim side, under the guidance of former Donegal Celtic manager Paddy Kelly, played their part in a lively first half and McKeague sliced over in a quick counter after 12 minutes.
It was Banbridge who showed more potency up front and in the 18th minute Conor Downey showed good control before forcing a full length save from Rogan.
At the other end Stephen Greene conceded a corner with a tackle on Williamson as the visiting No.10 honed in on goal. Croft punched the dangerous inswinging corner out of the area as the Corner forwards lurked.
A special mention must be made of the Town back four of Jones, Buchanan, Greene and Robb who dealt with everything thrown at them and looked strong throughout.
The hard-working Downey caused trouble with a great shot fired across goal which just needed a touch in the 34th minute and after a bout of sustained pressure Downey and Tumilty had efforts charged down.
Town came close to increasing their lead after 42 minutes when another superb Walsh free kick just eluded the head of Chris Kingsberry as the diminutive midfielder ghosted behind the defence. Walsh continued to torture the visitors early in the second half with crosses that spread panic for their over worked defence.
Indeed it was no surprise that it would be Walsh who was instrumental in Town’s second goal after 55 minutes when he was alert to take advantage of a slip by a Chimney Corner defender and disposessed the latter before feeding Kingsberry in front of goal with the ace midfielder making no mistake in shooting past Rogan to make it 2-0.
Two minutes later Conor Downey became provider when he sent Walsh scuttling through only to see his screamer go inches over the bar.
Chimney Corner’s chances faded after 63 minutes when they were reduced to 10 men after Francis Harbinson was red carded.
Shortly after this a Paul Walsh free kick came back off the bar and Barry Tumilty watched in horror as he ballooned the rebound over from point blank range with the ‘keeper helpless.
The visitors showed commendable fighting qualities and Town ‘keeper Croft made a fine stop from the lively McQuillan.
However Town were now dominant and stroking the ball around confidently and they made it 3-0 in the 79th minute when Walsh sent Downey galloping past a static rearguard to chip Rogan for a fine finish. It was a deserved goal for Downey who had worked hard throughout.
Stevie McArdle had replaced the injured Mattie McCartan and the sub made it 4-0 after 80 mi nutes with a great individual goal - blocking an attempted clearance he showed a clean pair of heels to a couple of defenders before slotting into the corner of the net.
It was Chris Kingsberry whofinished the scoring when he scored his second of the game and Town’s fifth on 83 minutes after gliding past two defenders and blasting past Rogan as he attempted to block the Banbridge man’s run.
A tremendous result for Brian Adair’s home debut and once again a sign that Banbridge Town are moving in the right direction. There is a feelgood factor about the Club at present and supporters are certainly buoyant about the future.
Let’s hope a lot more will visit Crystal Park and voice their support for the efforts of management and players.
Next Saturday is Irish Cup Round 4 day with Banbridge Town travelling to Queen’s University (kick-off 1.30pm) with extra time and penalties if required.
Stuart Thompson and Danny Johnson will be available again so Brian should have a full panel to select from.
Town supporters are running a minibus to the game and the club hopes this is a sign of things to come.
TEAMS: Banbridge Town: Stephen Croft, Stephen Jones, Simon Robb, Stephen Greene, Martin Buchanan, Barry Tumilty, Mattie McCartan, Chris McGrath, Conor Downey, Chris Kingsberry, Paul Walsh. Subs: Darren McGrath (for Tumilty 84 mins.), Stephen McArdle (for McCartan 64 mins.), Stephen O’Neill (for Downey 85 mins.), Johnny Porter.
Chimney Corner: Patrick Rogan, Ciaran Toner, Sean Hanna, Stephen Tully, Francis Harbinson, Aaron McKeague, Dale Kirkwood, Conor McQuillan, Michael McGrogan, James Williamson, Darren Harbinson. Subs: Chris Lambe (for D. Harbinson 75 mins.), Stephen Moore, Simon Brown (for McKeague 78 mins.)
Referee: Danny Colton, Dromore (Co. Tyrone)