A stunning Neil Clydesdale free kick wasn’t enough for Banbridge Rangers to take any points away from Crewe United on Saturday.
his was the first meeting between the two sides this season and there was very little between them from start to finish but it was Crewe who grabbed two goals in the space of six second half minutes to secure a 2-1 win.
In the opening twenty seconds Rangers had managed to carve out an opportunity after some tenacious closing down at kick off led Mark Wilton to rob the ball off the Crewe right back inside his own box but when he squared for Colin Cunningham the shot was well blocked.
The away side looked much more composed on the ball early on and soon created another chance for Cunningham from Jeff Bradys low cross but the shot was well blocked.
In the 17th minute Banbridge Rangers took a deserved lead when a free kick from over 25 yards out was whipped into the top corner by Neil Clydesdale with a combination of power and precision.
Half chances presented themselves for each team before the half with Teggart trying a speculative effort whilst McCullough’s lob at the other end went well wide.
Crewe finished the half stronger but the ‘Gers defence stood tall with some timely blocks.
The control of the match was gradually leaning towards the home side who seemed to come out of the half time break hungrier to win every ball.
The ‘Gers best spell came ten minutes into the half through some flowing football down the right hand side but on the counter attack Crewe were dangerous and forced goalkeeper Maxwell into a fine double save.
As the game progressed beyond the hour mark the tempo dropped which allowed all players time on the ball. In the 64th minute Crewe gained their equaliser after a wicked deflection on Mark McCullough’s shot saw the ball loop over Maxwell into the top corner.
With the bit between their teeth Crewe started moving the ball at pace and within six minutes they had taken the lead after a cross from the left wing saw Stephen Curley direct his header expertly into the bottom corner from 15 yards out.
Several changes in personnel helped the ‘Gers get a foothold on the game but they had to wait until the final five minutes to create openings for an equaliser.
First Andy Mallen dinked a ball through for Clydesdale who failed to get a touch on the pass when well placed then in stoppage time Teggart released Jeff Brady in behind the full back but Crewe keeper Stephen Harbinson saved well whilst a counter attack at the other end saw Curley smash a driven shot off the crossbar in a frenetic ending to the game.
Crewe secured all three points on a wet afternoon and it would be remiss not to mention the superb officiating at the game by referee David Berry who had an excellent game.
The return fixture with Crewe takes place at Cheney Park in a fortnight but before that Rangers travel to Richhill to play Broomhill in the Quarter Final of the Marshall Cup, kick off at 2.15pm.
Team: William Maxwell, Kyle Sergeant (Andy Mallen), Ryan Gregg, Christopher Chambers, William Frazer, Colin Cunningham (Jonny Porter), Stephen Teggart, Neil Clydesdale, Mark Wilton (Scott Ward), Jeff Brady & Colin Cousins (c).