Banbridge Town were hoping the new season would bring with it new optimism and a new winning streak.
On Saturday, though, Glebe Rangers hadn’t read the script.
They left Crystal Park with a 1-0 victory having struck the decisive blow on just four minutes.
To make matters worse for the hosts, they ended the match with 10 players, Chris McGrath having been sent off after a melee on the hour-mark.
Town were missing Buchanan and the injured James Wilson whilst new signing Stuart Thompson was serving the first of a two-game suspension carried over from last season.
The game was only four minutes old when a poor clearance out of defence allowed Glebe’s Dunlop (son of the late Joey Dunlop) to volley into the Town goal with Croft given little chance of keeping it out.
The game was an even affair but with the pressure on every team to get off to a good start given the end of season league re-structuring, there was an edge to the game throughout.
Stephen Greene was booked for an off the ball incident on 28 minutes and from this point on the match became a niggly affair.
After a half-time regroup, Banbridge Town started the second half brightly and Greene went close with a header from a Gourley corner but he couldn’t keep his effort down and it flew over the Glebe crossbar.
On 60 minutes Town were reduced to 10 men when Chris McGrath was, Town felt, harshly dealt with following a melee involving players from both sides.
Town manager Watson brought on Chris Kingsberry for debutant Neil Barr and the pacy winger immediately made a difference as the hosts began to really push for an equaliser.
Conor Downey had a shot across the goal which just crept wide and he then provided a great ball into the box, met by Kingsberry’s head for what looked a certain goal but the keeper somehow kept it out with a top drawer save.
Town continued to press forward in numbers but this left them open to Glebe’s counter attacks and from one of these, Stephen Croft in Town’s goal kept the hosts in the game with a great double save to deny Glebe a second goal with just 10 minutes left on the clock.
Ryan Watson brought on pacy young winger Stephen McCavitt with five minutes left and he almost made an immediate impact, getting his head on the end of a Matty McCartan cross but his effort just crept wide of the post.
The game ended 1-0 to the visitors, which was not the start manager Watson and his players would have wanted.
Next up is an away trip to Limavady on Saturday, whee Town will looking to get their season back on track with an away win.
TOWN: Croft, Jones, Greene, Waddell, McCartan, Murphy (McCavitt 85), McGrath, Moffatt, Gourley, Barr (Kingsberry 60), Downey.
Unused Subs: Stoddart, Hayes.