The statistics for Banbridge Rangers look particularly pleasing of late as they extended their winning streak with a hard fought 3-1 victory away to league leaders Ballymacash Rangers on Saturday.
With 26 goals scored and only six conceded in the last eight league games, it shows why there has been a return of 22 points out of a possible 24 for Richard McMinn’s in-form boys in blue.
Saturday’s game at Ballymacash was always going to be one of the toughest of the season as the Lisburn outfit are notoriously hard to beat at the Bluebell.
The Banbridge Gers knew they were in for a battle from the start with the amount of zealous challenges in the opening ten minutes but stood up to be counted and started to create the better openings.
Striker Jerry Philip pulled away from his marker at an eighth minute corner but failed to direct his header goalward and five minutes later the visitors saw an audacious effort from Captain Colin Cousins drop just over as he volleyed a keepers kick out back at goal from the halfway line.
An early substitution was required after 20 minutes with Kyle Sergeant replacing Stuart Mallen who failed to shake off a knock. As the tackles flew in, the referee brandished his only card to Cousins for questioning a decision.
The opening goal arrived in the 26th minute when Adam Beattie threaded a perfectly weighted ball between the centre-halves for Jonny Porter who shimmied past the keeper with nifty footwork before displaying a composed finish.
Within ten minutes, the Gers had a penalty shout turned down when Porter went over a challenge in the box.
From the resultant corner, Banbridge Rangers scored their second goal through centre-half Chris Chambers, who collected the ball outside the box, checked a defender before clipping an exquisite shot into the very top corner with his supposedly weaker foot.
Either side of the half saw each team cancel one another out but on 55 minutes, Ballymacash brought themselves back into the game at 2-1 with an efficiently executed counter attack from a Rangers corner.
Sometimes winning games is all about scoring at the right times and this may have been the case on Saturday.
The momentum from the Ballymacash goal was quickly quashed as Jerry Philip scored a third goal for Banbridge Rangers within two minutes of the restart.
Tenacious work by Adam Beattie on the left side resulted in a through ball for Philip and the keeper to race to but there was only going to be one winner as the big Carribean forward went into Usain Bolt mode and knocked the ball past the keeper to score.
Jerry has scored in every league game that he has played in for Banbridge Rangers and is proving to be a constant thorn for defenders in Intermediate A this season.
With just over 20 minutes to go, Ballymacash were reduced to ten men with a straight red issued for a two footed tackle on Andy Mallen. The Lisburn outfit’s discipline seemed to evade them over the next ten minutes with three cautions.
Banbridge Rangers saw the game out with each team having one decent chance in stoppage time.
Next up for the Gers is a home match against Fivemiletown United, who are one of the top six teams in the division and could mount a serious title challenge.
The game will take place at Havelock Park as work is currently underway to relay the surface at Cheney Park. The Reserves are also at home this week and host Annagh United at Scarva Park. Both game kick-off at 2.15pm.
BANBRIDGE RANGERS: Chrissy Davison, Jonny Porter (Stuart Cairns 79), Chris Chambers, Ryan Gregg, William Frazer, Colin Cousins, Jonny O’Neill, Adam Beattie, Stuart Mallen (Kyle Sergeant 20), Andy Mallen, Jerry Philip.