Banbridge Town’s late flurry was not enough to prevent an agonising 4-3 defeat on Saturday.
It was only a 3-0 behind and having seen Stuart Thompson sent off that Town sprung to life but a Chris Kingsberry double and a Neil Barr strike were not enough to stop Tobermore taking all three points.
Both teams started well with chances at either end, Chris McGrath went close for Town on three occasions but was denied by the Tobermore defence.
Tobermore’s Brown was then booked for pulling back Downey and from the free-kick a Gourley cross from the left was headed just wide by Marty Buchanan.
Town’s McCartan was next to be booked as both teams chased the opening goal. On 45 minutes, a Greene handball just outside the area gave Tobermore the opportunity to test Croft in the home goal. The visitors put two men on the end of the Town wall and as they peeled off, Tobrmore’s Trevor Parkhill placed the ball well wide of the keeper into the unguarded net. From the hosts point of view, it was a poor goal to concede.
Kingsberry replaced the injured Jones at the start of the second half as Town pushed for the equaliser. After 55 minutes, Barr replaced Stoddart upfront.
However, within five minutes, Tobermore went further ahead as their number seven got on the end of a right wing cross and his finish gave keeper Croft no chance.
Town continued to press forward and a Downey cross was headed wide by Barr. That was to be Downey’s last contribution as he went off injured, replaced by Stephen McCavitt.
On 70 minutes, Town’s bad day got a lot worse as the ball was list on the left wing and as the Tobermore striker rounded keeper Croft Stuart Thompson bravely slid in at the near post to save what looked a certain goal. However, the referee decided this was deliberate handball to deny an obvious goal scoring opportunity and showed a straight red. Parkhill’s penalty hit the post but he reacted quickest to score from the rebound and make it 3-0.
As if spurred on by losing Thompson and with just 20 minutes left, Town finally came to life.
Pixie Moffat won a free-kick and the ball was moved wide to McCartan on the right wing. His cross was met by Barr who pulled one back with a fine finish.
Town were right back on the attack from the re-start and three minutes later it was 3-2 and very much game on as Kingsberry got Town’s second.
Tobermore were looking very shaky at the back but Town’s all out attack left them vulnerable to a counter attack. With five minutes to go, the visitors got their fourth goal as they broke upfield and Greene’s desperate tackle saw a second penalty for Tobermore which Parkhill converteded to seal the win and complete his hat-trick.
Town weren’t finished and on 90 minutes Kingsberry got his second, rifling an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net.
Town were throwing everyone forward as they looked for the equaliser but time beat them and it ended 4-3 to the visitors.
It was a frantic final 20 minutes and despite showing great fight in that period, Town need to ask themselves where that fight was in the first 70?
With no game next weekendm Town’s next game is an away trip on Tuesday September 1st to Premiership side Ballinamallard United in round two of the JBE League Cup (kick-off 7.45pm).
Then, on Saturday September 5, Town return to Championship Two action with a home game against Sport & Leisure (kick-off 3pm).
TOWN: Croft, Jones, Greene, Thompson, Buchanan, Gourley, McCartan, Stoddart, McGrath, Downey, Moffatt. Subs: Barr, Kingsberry, Johnston, McCavitt.