THE result of the season so far!
That was definitely the case for Banbridge Town on Saturday last when they made the long journey to Championship 1 side Dergview in the quarter-final of the prestigious Coca-Cola Intermediate Cup.
Last season’s beaten finalists Dergview were hot favourites to enter the semi-final stages but Brian Adair’s highly organised and battling Town side had other ideas.
Young James McConville (signed recently from Queens Univ.) made his debut in Banbridge’s goal as Nathan Morley-Hillen was cup-tied. Barry Tumilty, Chris McGrath, Neil Alderdice and Chris Kingsberry all returned to the starting lineup after suspension and injury.
Chris McGrath had an early effort go over the bar after four minutes and Timmy Grant headed wide soon after as Town took the game to their illustrious opponents.
Then against the run of play the homesters struck after eight minutes with a goal presented to them as the result of an horrendous goalkeeping error from McConville who completely mis-kicked a harmless back pass from Paul Walsh. Despite the valiant attempts to recover by the ‘keeper Dergview striker Ricky Lee Dougherty finished to the net to put the home side ahead.
Dergview, spurred on by the goal, attacked again and a great tackle from man-of-the-match Stephen Greene prevented Andrew Sproule from adding to their tally. Neil Alderdice thwarted another dangerous raid minutes later.
However Town soon assumed control again with that Rolls-Royce of midfielders Barry Tumilty to the fore ably assisted by Chris McGrath. The on-rushing Chris Kingsberry had the ball nicked off his toe by Dergview ‘keeper Stefan McCusker after 24 minutes and Paul Walsh’s free kick on 29 minutes was narrowly wide.
The equaliser which had been on the cards for some time finally came on 37 minutes when foraging right back Stuart Thompson sent a sizzling 27 yard drive which dipped over the helpless McCusker and into the net.
The home side started the second half on the offensive but Town once again found their measure and began to press. McCusker saved at the feet of Timmy Grant after 52 minutes with Chris Kingsberry just failing to steer the rebound home.
Dergview suffered a blow after 65 minutes when they were reduced to 10 men after Ricky Lee Dougherty received his marching orders after an altercation with Town’s Barry Tumilty.
Brian Adair responed by sending on striker Conor Downey for the hard working Mattie McCartan and played with three men up front to put further pressure on Dergview.
The breakthrough came after 75 minutes after yet another foul on Timmy Grant -the diminutive striker was subject to some harsh treatment all afternoon. Paul Walsh sent his free kick swerving inside the post from 25 yards with the ‘keeper in no man’s land - a superb effort from Town’s dead ball specialist.
And the little man wasn’t finished there. On 83 minutes he sent over a terrific cross which was met superbly by Willie Herron who had eluded his marker and the genial midfielder headed strongly past McCusker to put Town into a 3-1 lead.
They were showing a great hunger and desire and their was no way back for Dergview. Sub. Conor Downey was showing great awareness with clever hold up play.
Stephen O’Neill was also introduced (for Chris Kingsberry) and he also produced a freshness to Town’s play after coming on.
A terrific result for Town who will now eagerly await Tuesday night’s semi-final draw at IFA Headquarters where they will go into the hat along with Institute, Limavady Utd., and Ards Rangers.
Banbridge Town: James McConville, Stuart Thompson, Paul Walsh, Neil Alderdice, Stephen Greene, Barry Tumilty, Mattie McCartan, Willie Herron, Timmy Grant, Chris Kingsberry, Chris McGrath. Subs: Stephen O’Neill (for Kingsberry 81mins.), Conor Downey (for McCartan 70 mins.), Aaron Cobb, Ryan Gourley, Brian Adair.
Dergview: Stefan McCusker, Liam McMenamin, John Carland, Eugene Gilloway, Colin Robinson, Adam Leckey, Adam Atkinson, Gary Henderson, Ricky Lee Dougherty, Andrew Sproule, Austin Friel. Subs: Aaron Nash, Jack Rodgers, Tom Carland, Gareth Porter, Conor Carland.