After a disappointing defeat last time out in the cup to Dollingstown, Banbridge Town AFC made the long trip to Kilkeel seeking to return to winning ways but came away with a narrow 1-0 defeat to Valley Rangers Reserves.
Town started slowly and allowed their hosts to dictate the tempo of the game in the opening stages.
They penned their young visitors deep into their own half forcing several early corners. The Town defence dealt with these with ease and stood firm to everything thrown at them.
Town eventually grew into the match finding their rhythm and passing game and started to turn the screw.
Johnston, Williamson and McCavitt were combining well down the left and it was this combination which brought about Town’s first real chance when McCavitt wriggled free on the byline forcing a good save from the keeper.
The home team were the next to fashion up a good opportunity when a dangerous counter attack saw a loose ball break to a midfield runner whose long range drive flew high over the locals’ bar.
Town’s final chance in the opening period came five minutes before the break when a corner kick broke to defender Orr who dragged his shot wide of the mark from 25 yards out.
Valley started the second period in the same vain as the first, with high pressing and quick sharp passing that had their visitors defending frantically.
After 60 minutes, the hosts went very close when an attacker headed over after a deep corner to the back post was floated back into the middle to find its intended target unmarked but unable to convert.
Five minutes later, the hosts took a deserved lead, through somewhat fortunate circumstances when a clearance by Johnston unluckily rebounded back into the box off Martin’s shoulder, finding the hosts’ striker unmarked and able to loop his header past on coming keeper Goan.
Town tried to force a way back into the match but with 10 minutes to go, substitute Donnelly blazed over their best chance from 20 yards after Burns threaded a fine ball into his feet.
Town now move on to their next league game at home to Rathfriland Rangers seeking to return to winning ways.
Man of the match went to Williamson who worked tirelessly up and down the left side all game and was effective when in possession going forward.
TOWN AFC: Goan, Martin, Johntson, Orr, Burns, Toner, Williamson, Kelly, Heaney, Close, McCavitt. Subs: Donnelly, Funes, Downey.