Downey delivers again as Town down Wakehurst at Crystal Park

Conor Downey's a man in top scoring form for Town. INBL1546-234EB
Conor Downey's a man in top scoring form for Town. INBL1546-234EB
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Conor Downey’s fourth goal in three matches was all Banbridge Town needed to deliver a second win of the Championship Two season.

They welcomed basement side Wakehurst to Crystal Park and secured a 1-0 win - goalkeeper Tuda Murphy also producing heroics to deny the visitors an equaliser.

Stephen Greene was part of a Town defence that kept their fourth clean sheet in five matches. INBL1546-237EB

Stephen Greene was part of a Town defence that kept their fourth clean sheet in five matches. INBL1546-237EB

Although Town were three places above their opponents, the points gap of three meant this was a real six pointer for and a hard fought game was expected.

Boosted by their four match unbeaten run, Town went into the game with confidence high and a steely determination to take all three points. Manager Watson made two changes to his side, central midfielders Chris McGrath and Kevin Anderson came back in for Marty Buchanan and Stephen Jones, who dropped to the bench.

Both teams observed a minutes silence before kick off to mark the passing of Gladys Adair, wife of former Chairman and long time supporter Jim.

Town’s confidence was evident as, straight from kick off, they were on the attack with Ryan Gourley whipping in a cross from the left which was met by the in-rushing McGrath but his first time shot was inches wide

That was the pattern for the first 15 minutes as Town pushed forward in numbers with Downey, Moffatt and Gourley causing problems for the visitors’ defence but failing to convert their chances.

Wakehurst gradually worked their way into the game and won two free-kicks inside Town’s half as Anderson and Thompson were penalised for strong challenges. Town’s defence has been excellent in their recent unbeaten run and Greene and Waddell continued that form clearing any ball into the home side’s area.

Banbridge continued to attack, forcing a succession of corners from which Downey and Greene had efforts on goal which went over the crossbar.

The wet surface at Crystal Park led to some miss-timed tackles which were sensibly dealt with by the referee. A late challenge on Moffatt midway into Town’s half brought a free-kick which left back Stuart Thompson’s clean strike shot arrow-like towards the top corner but the visiting keeper stretched out a hand to tip over the bar. From the resulting short corner, Gourley’s cross-goal shot went wide. Despite Town’s dominance the first half ended scoreless.

From the re-start, Town were straight back on the attack but in their haste, Stephen Greene was booked for a typically strong challenge.

That foul, int turned out, was a blessing in disguise. From the resulting free-kick, the ball was cleared and played to Moffatt on the left wing. He drove forward, beating two defenders and getting to the byline before delivering a pinpoint cross to Conor Downey. He’s a forward in form and, with the time and composure to pick his spot, he placed his shot into the corner giving the keeper no chance.

Wakehurst would have been level on 53 minutes but for a wonderful save from Tuda Murphy. A shot from inside Town’s half took a deflection off Wadell and was going in until Murphy, at full stretch, got across goal to turn the ball over the bar.

This let-off saw Town up the pace once again as they attacked in numbers in search of a second goal. Greene hit the bar from a Town corner and a Wilson cross from the right wing was just too high for Moffat at the far post.

Kingsberry then played a neat ball in to Downey whose shot was just over.

Wakehurst’s player / manager came on with 20 minutes left as he took matters into his own hands, trying to get back on level terms.

In the opposite dug-out, Ryan Watson brought on Jones for Gourley with 15 minutes left and then Pedlow replaced Kingsberry for the final ten minutes.

Both teams continued to press but the game finished with Town securing their second home win in as many matches and extending their unbeaten run of games to five.