BANBRIDGE Rangers travelled to Glenavy on Saturday afternoon to play Crewe United, who are currently in second place in Intermediate A.
A combination of good goalkeeping and some contested refereeing decisions scuppered the Gers from returning to Banbridge with all three points in another frustrating game.
Andy Frazer made several changes from the team that drew 2-2 away to Blackers Mill in the previous fixture with Dean Mallen, Trevor Tate and Jonny Porter all returning to the starting eleven.
The opening half hour was dominated by the away side who looked much more comfortable in possession and thought they had scored a legitimate opening goal when Coly Cousins latched onto a Chris Chambers free kick and finished confidently but the effort was disallowed as offisde.
Rangers stuck to their task with Andy McLarty bending his run in behind the full back to catch a Gregg through ball and finished well only for the referee to call another very contentious decision in favour of Crewe United.
The pressure from Banbridge Rangers was incessant with Mark Wilton’s late runs into the box creating clear opportunities to break the deadlock but on two occasions the Crewekeeper pulled off f antastic fingertip saves to deny Wilton.
Rangers could have been five up before the break if the rub of the green had gone their way but their high line was compromised in the dying seconds of the half with Ivon Blevins rescuing thesituation by pulling off a superb stop with the Crewe striker bearing down on goal unopposed.
The second half saw Crewe United come out with renewed vigour and made a contest of the opening fifteen minute’s exchanges with some swift counter attacks.
On the hour mark Wilton again threatened to break the deadlock with a header from eight yards out but although it beat the keeper a covering defender managed to be in the right place at the right time to clear off the line.
Banbridge Rangers found the net for a third tme in the game with McLarty linking onto a Chambers ball but felt robbed by yet another offside call by the official.
Tensions went to fever pitch when an apparently offside Crewe player closed down Ivon Blevins forcing the keeper to clear his lines for a throw with the referee refusing to blow for interfering with play.
From the resultant quick throw Crewe found their striker on the edge of the area and he found the bottomcorner to the dismay of the Rangers contingent.
Ryan Weir was introduced for Dean Mallen and made an instant impact from the left flank and had the beating of his man every time and on one occasion cut inside and sent a shot towards the far top corner only to be denied by the outstretched fingertips of the keeper.
The Crewe keeper’s heroics were not finished yet and with four minutes left on the clock produced a terrific save to deny Trevor Tate an equalising goal after the Rangers midfielder had picked up a loose ball inside the box and drilled low towards the bottom corner.
Throughout the last few months Rangers have failed to pick up points for various reasons but it was clear on Saturday that it wasn’t to be again.
With a double header against Markethill Swifts coming up in the next three weeks sandwiched by a home tie against Broomhill the Rangers side will be hoping for a change in fortunes and start climbing the league table.
On Saturday they managed to make the second place team in the Division look very ordinary with no end result and will be gunning for Markethill when they come to Cheney Park with kick off at 3pm.