Banbridge Rangers Under 13s showed nerves of steel on Saturday morning to collect the Mid Ulster Youth League Plate at the Lurgan Arena.
With key striker and talisman Lee Chapman injured, the Rangers players knew that they were coming up against a towering Lurgan Celtic side who had pushed them close twice in the league so far this season.
But, confidence in their own footballing ability shone through from the first whistle and the game as a contest was pretty much done and dusted within the opening twenty minutes as the Gers raced into a 3-0 lead.
In the fourth minute Neil Hathworne was the recipient of an inch perfect pass from Josh McKay and the composed forward slide the ball neatly under the Celtic keeper with ease to open the scoring.
In the 18th minute Josh McKay again work his way through several challenges before sending a ball over the top for right winger Josh Bell. The keeper managed to get there first but spilled the ball and the ever alert Bell nipped in to slot home the second.
Within ninety seconds the score was extended to 3-0 as McKay picked up his third assist this time battling for the ball on the edge of the box and able to scoop it out for Adam Wilson who, with his back to goal, sent an audacious effort high over the goalkeeper and into the top corner.
With less than 15 minutes to go Lurgan Celtic had their first decent chance with a high looping shot clipping the top of the bar. This gave them a lift and within three minutes they had scored a consolation.
Order was restored almost immediately when Josh McKay played a weighted pass in behind the Lurgan back line for Neil Hawthorne who kept his cool and slotted into the far bottom corner to make it 4-1 with 8 minutes to play.
In the final minute of normal time the young Rangers striker Hawthorne secured his hat-trick when a combination of Matty Gilchrist and Adam Knox worked the ball forward into his path and he turned to execute his shot beyond the keeper.
An all round performance which started at the back with goalkeeper Joshua Clarke looking unfazed throughout behind a solid back four led by Captain Enda McDermott, who showed you don’t have to be the biggest to be the best.
Man of the Match was awarded by the officials to centre half Jamie Moffatt who played superbly with the full backs Matthew McCallen and James Roleston performing their roles with precision.
A huge thanks to Clarke & Son Plant Hire and NI Gas & Heating for their sponsorship of the match which was put towards a pack for each player and included water bottles and boot bags.
Congratulations to coaches Mark Wilson and Mark Bell whose hard work and dedication on the training ground has seen the team collect their first silverware and also remain unbeaten in the league with only two games to go.