BANBRIDGE Town returned to winning ways and collected three points at the expense of Ballymoney Utd at Crystal Park on Saturday last.
It was not the most inspiring game but it was important for Town to return to winning ways and in the end that’s what mattered most.
They were quickly into their stride and soon had the visitors on the backfoot with Chris McGrath lobbing over in their first attack on three minutes. Soon after Ryan Gourley turned inside a couple of defenders and fed Timmy Grant who was fouled. The resultant free saw Ballymoney ‘keeper Moore push out Paul Walsh’s fierce drive for a corner which Neil King headed over.
Stuart Thompson, back in the freedom of his right back position, attacked constantly and raced through on 11 minutes only to see Moore safely hold his shot.
Town’s Morley-Hillen was called upon to save from Gillan as the Braidmen forced their way into the game two minutes later. Steven Doey was catching the eye with some smart incursions into the Banbridge box and he kept the Town’s left side busy with great attacking bursts.
However Town’s control brought them rewards after 24 minutes when the sweet left peg of Paul Walsh met a right wing cross and the little dynamo lashed a volley into the far corner giving Moore no chance - definitely a candidate for goal of the year.
With their tails up the almost extended the lead when a strong daisy cutting cross from Stuart Thompson just eluded the inrushing Chris McGrath four minutes later.
McKenna wasted a Ballymoney free kick when he blazed over while at the other end a Paul Walsh corner was hooked over by Willie Herron from under the bar.
Ryan Craig had a chance to level matters after 36 minutes but Morley-Hillen came to Town’s rescue with a fine stop with his legs.
On the counter attack a swift Banbridge move found Chris McGrath free on goal and when Moore saved his effort the rebound fell to the lurking Chris Kingsberry and the midfielder made no mistake to send Town into a 2-0 lead.
It was all Banbridge now and visiting ‘keeper Moore excelled himself with a full length save from a goalbound Barry Tumilty drive on 43 minutes. A battling Ballymoney side came out fighting in the second half and Gillan tested Morley-Hillen with a good headed effort after 53 minutes.
Brian Adair brought Conor Downey into the forward line in place of Ryan Gourley after 60 minutes but the substitute finished weakly two minutes later when set up by Chris Kingsberry.
Ballymoney’s persistance paid off on 67 minutes when Higgins intercepted a poor back pass to slot past Morley-Hillen to reduce the arrears. This goal shook Banbridge out of their second half apathy and firstly Thompson was wide from a free kick 18 yards out and this was followed by a curling effort from Grant that wasn’t far away.
Ballymoney defender Keane came to his side’s rescue after 80 minutes when he headed a Conor Downey header off the line with his ‘keeper beaten.
Steven O’Neill, who had replaced the injured Adam Pedlow, did some good work in the box but found himself crowded out.
The game was settled in the 90th minutes when the hovering Chris Kingsberry pounced on a mis-kick from a visiting defender to smash home his second goal of the game to secure a 3-1 victory for Town.
Banbridge Town: Nathan Morley-Hillen, Stuart Thompson, Paul Walsh, Kevin Henry, Neil King, Barry Tumilty, Willie Herron, Chris McGrath, Timmy Grant, Chris Kingsberry, Ryan Gourley. Subs: Steven O’Neill (for Pedlow 75 mins.), Conor Downey (for Gourley 60 mins.), Aaron Cobb, Adam Pedlow (for Walsh 67 mins.), Mattie McCartan.
Ballymoney Utd: Bryan Moore, Paul Keane, Mark Watson, Hugh Og Boyle, Ryan Mooney, Lee McClelland, Francis McKenna, Gerald Gillan, Cahal Higgins, Steven Doey, Ryan Craig. Subs: Con Og Boyle, Colm Kirgan. Referee: Graham McIlwrath (N’Ards).
The next league fixture for Town is on Wednesday night (April 24) when Lurgan Celtic make their second visit of the week to Crystal Park (kick-off 7pm). Next Saturday (April 27) Killymoon Rangers will visit Crystal Park with a 3pm kick-off.
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