Ally Wilson, on his day one of the best finishers in the Championship, was the hero for a triumphant Banbridge Town at Coagh on Saturday last when he notched a superb hat-trick to grab three vital points in a 3-1 victory over Coagh Utd.
The game was one of the biggest in Town’s season so far, a proverbial six pointer league clash. Prior to Saturday’s match, the home side sat three points adrift of Town in second bottom league spot and having suffered relegation from Championship One recently, they are anxious not to suffer a similar fate this season.
If Wilson was undoubtedly Town’s hero, the contribution of Ryan Evans must be mentioned. For the second successive Saturday, he came off the bench, this time to be heavily involved in the second and third of Wilson’s winning goals.
On a heavy surface and faced with early blizzard conditions it was Banbridge with Mattie McCartan and Adam Dennison driving them on in midfield who got off to a dream start. An Ally Wilson 25 yard free took a wicked deflection and whizzed past Coagh keeper Hassan to put Town ahead with only one minute on the clock.
The homesters were stunned but came right back fighting as you would expect and after five minutes Thai Blevins brought a fine save from Stephen Croft.
From the resultant corner, Coagh had penalty claims turned down when they felt a shot across Town’s box from Kempston touched the arm of Mattie McCartan. However, Town had similar claims on nine minutes when they reckoned a Steven O’Neill drive connected with a defender’s arm
Mark Teggart had a great chance to increase Banbridge’s lead after 18 minutes when good build up play involving Ryan Gourley and Ally Wilson presented him with a gilt edged chance in front of goal but he seemed to lose concentration momentarily and the ball was cleared
Four minutes later, it took a great tackle from James Wilson to concede a corner only for the Coagh defender to rise above the Town’s defence and plant his header well out of Stephen Croft’s reach to level matters at 1-1. This certainly put a spring into the home side’s step and Croft had to be alert to keep out a shot from Young soon after.
It was a stubborn Town who showed that they were not going to be outmuscled and Martin Buchanan just failed to get his head to a teasing Mark Teggart cross at the back post after 30 minutes.
Teggart himself then forced a top drawer save from Hassan on 35 minutes after being set up by a great ball from Stephen Greene down the left. What a game big Stevie had at left back, a position he last filled for Banbridge when he made his debut as a 16 year old.
Ryan Gourley brought the best out of the overworked Hassan one minute later after his pace took him past a couple of defenders. Just before the break, Steven O’Neill was unfortunate with a drive from a Gourley cross which shaved the crossbar on its way over.
Banbridge continued to take the game to Coagh at every opportunity and Teggart fired wide five minutes into the second period. A long range effort from Young on 55 minutes was too close for comfort though as the home side reminded Town how dangerous they could be.
On 57 minutes, Ryan Watson introduced Ryan Evans as the heavy underfoot conditions began to take their toll on the hard working winger Ryan Gourley. On 64 minutes, a poor kick out from Stephen Croft forced Glen Waddell to concede a foul and from the resultant free, Young went close for Coagh.
There were 70 minutes on the clock when Town’s travelling support erupted in joy as they took a 2-1 lead. Teggart broke into the box and found substitute Evans who deftly passed to Wilson and he gave Hassan no chance with a shot to the net.
New signing and ex-Portadown man John Murphy then made his debut in place of a tiring Adam Dennison.
After 78 minutes, Town brought Duncan Stoddard off the bench to face his former club with James Wilson going off and the versatile Mattie McCartan moving to right back.
One minute later, Banbridge sealed the issue when Wilson rounded off his hat-trick. It was the same three players involved in the build-up again. Another Teggart cross found Evans whose cut back left Wilson in front of goal and the ace predator slotted home.
There was a brief flare up after 85 minutes with Teggart and Coagh’s Thornton going into the referee’s notebook followed by Ryan Evans but Town held on comfortably to secure a most welcome three points.
For Coagh Manager Andy Smith, ex-Loughgall and Ards player, this was not the result he wanted and he has work on his hands to lift his troops in their relegation fight.
Meanwhile, this Saturday Banbridge Town have Glebe Rangers as visitors to Crystal Park (kick-Off 2pm). This is another opportunity to secure three points with the added incentive of avenging the 4-0 drubbing Town received at Glebe last November.
Unfortunately, Town will be minus Mark Teggart, beginning a two-match suspension, and Steven O’Neill who is returning to America to complete his Studies. They could, however, have Conor Downey fit again.
TOWN: Stephen Croft, James Wilson, Stephen Greene, Martin Buchanan, Glen Waddell, Adam Dennison, Ryan Gourley, Mattie McCartan, Ally Wilson, Steven O’Neill, Mark Teggart. Subs: Ryan Evans (Gourley 57), John Murphy (Dennison 71), Duncan Stoddard (J Wilson 78), David Gray, James McConville.
Referee: Lee Tavinder, Dungannon.