Banbridge Town completed their exhaustive pre-season programme with another win on Saturday.
It was a 3-2 victory at Crystal Park over a Ballymena Utd squad which contained some first team players and some good quality youngsters.
This was Town’s sixth match in a week if the Banbridge Cup matches were taken into account.
Town were missing some of the more established players due to holidays and with Mark Teggart also recovering from the ankle injury suffered the previous week, manager Stuart King was able to give some game time to some of the up and coming Development team.p Jordan Hayes played at centre-back and the eye-catching Danny Devlin continued his progress on the left side of the defence.
It seemed from the start that the heavy programme was having its toll on Town’s players as the normal intensity that Town have shown in their previous matches was missing.
Town’s match plans were disrupted when striker Ashley Gregg was forced off with what appeared to be a serious knee injury after only 12 minutes. Gregg was replaced by midfielder Adam Pedlow with Neil Clydesdale moving up front.
The visitors took the lead in the 19th minute after they had forced a series of corners and from their third such set piece, giant centre-back Caolan Loughran rose unmarked to head home.
This set back forced Town to greater efforts and just when it looked as if the visitors would reach the break ahead, first Adam Pedlow and then Neil Clydesdale scored to give Town a half time lead.
Having taken the lead, Town seemed much more determined at the start of the second period and the midfield trio of McCreanor, McParland and skipper Moffatt worked tirelessly to hold on to the advantage.
Defensively, Town also looked better with new signing Stephen Acheson showing his quality both in the air and with some timely interventions and tackles. Centre-back Hayes and full back James Wilson also played well with timed tackles and interventions.
Full back Danny Devlin has been the find of the week. Such was his contribution against Glenavon last Tuesday that visitors’ boss Gary Hamilton expressed his admiration of the player.
Devlin continued to impress in this match and his reading of the game for a young man only just turned 18 may have given King a difficult choice when it comes to selection next week.
Town pressed harder and began to create more and it came as no surprise when they added a third goal. Conor Downey lashed home a left foot drive from just inside the box.
Town began to tire after their packed schedule and Ballymena forced their way back into the game. They even hit the post twice in quick succession and eventually got a second goal.
It came via a penalty when Town keeper Cairnduff upended visitors’ striker Matthew Shevlin, who scored the spot-kick.
Cairnduff was replaced in order to give further match practice to Andrew Cullen and the young keeper made an outstanding save from the impressive Andrew McCracken to ensure a morale boosting 3-2 win.
TOWN: Cairnduff, Wilson, Acheson, Hayes, Devlin, McCreanor, McParland, Moffatt (c), Clydesdale, Gregg, Downey.
Subs: Cullen, Pedlow, Barr, McCartan, Wilson.
Town’s Mascot from their games development group: Leo McFadden