The top two in Intermediate A came head to head on Saturday at Newry Showgrounds and were only separated by a winning goal for the hosts two minutes from time.
Out of four meetings last season, Newry and Banbridge shared two wins each and went into this game level on points at the top of the division.
The game itself had very few wow moments as both teams battled to neutralise one another and significantly, Newry’s first effort on target only arrived with 20 minutes left on the clock.
Andy Mallen had Rangers’ first effort of note after he intercepted a crossfield pass, then nutmegged Newry’s centre half before chipping the keeper who watched as the ball clip the crossbar.
Jeff Brady stung the hands of Newry keeper Murphy before the half hour mark. Then when a long free-kick was arrowed into the box soon after, Murphy spilled the ball but it didn’t fall within striking distance of a blue shirt.
The opening quarter of the second half was played in the same vein with little chances created.
With just over 20 minutes to go, a Newry counter-attack saw a deep cross to McMullan headed back across goal for Carville to glance towards the far corner but Ivon Blevins produced a top drawer reaction save to deny the Newry front-man.
The Rangers backline of Cousins, Gregg, Chambers and Frazer were marshalling everything Newry had to offer and at the other end Brady went close to curling one in at the back post. On 80 minutes, Carville again went close for Newry but missed his connection when a low cross fizzed across the goal-line.
The winning goal arrived for Newry with only two minutes left to play when Niall Crilly overlapped on the right and sent an inch perfect cross to the back post for an unmarked Timmy Grant to finish.
A late rally by the Gers was not enough to rescue a point which would have been well deserved for the effort put in. A highlight for Rangers was the performances right across the pitch and in particular the three youngsters Teggart, Dodds and McKinstry, who stepped up to the mark after Rangers were left without eight regulars through injury.
This Saturday is the opening round of the Intermediate Cup with the Gers playing host to Dunmurry Rec at Cheney (kick-off 1.30pm).
The Amateur League team will be a tough opponent as they recently put five past fellow Intermediate A side Hanover.