Chris McGrath was Town’s hero on Saturday as they deservedly saw off league leaders Limavady United.
The 2-0 result at Crystal Park was ‘Vady’s first defeat of the league season and lifts Town’s into the top half of the table, just two points off fourth.
It took the efforts of volunteers to clear the snow and ensure the game got the go-ahead. And they surely got their rewards.
Having suffered their first away defeat of the season last week, and exited the Intermediate Cup, this game was just the test Town needed to get their focus back on the league.
Missing Pedlow, Downey, Jones and Buchanan through injury, it was a change Town line-up. Tuda Murphy was back in nets, Moffat dropped back to left-back while Neil Barr started up front with Stuart King in behind.
Town started very positively but it was the visitors who fired the first shot, which Tuda Murphy held.
And that save paid off double soon after as Town went ahead on 12 minutes after a flowing move.
A ball out of defence by Ryan Moffatt to Gourley was switched to King in the centre. He found Barr on the left wing, from where he cut inside before delivering a great ball into the box which was met by Chris McGrath. Keeper Paul Wells did well to parry into the air but McGrath was first to the dropping ball to volley home the opener from five yards.
With Anderson playing a holding role in midfield, McGrath was able to push forward and he was involved in another good move with King who played in Kingsberry on the right but his cross into the box was headed clear.
Barr then delivered a cross from the left which Gourley volleyed over as Town poured forward.
Their second duly arrived on 20 minutes after another move from back to front. Thompson played a ball out of defence to McGrath; his pass to King was moved on to Kingsberry, who played a dangerous ball from the right corner into the centre. It was headed straight back to him but Gourley was there in support and he took a touch before delivering a perfectly measured ball into the box which was headed home by McGrath.
Town were certainly looking dangerous going forward, with McGrath, Gourley, King, Barr and Kingsberry combining well. Limavady weren’t out of it though and on 38 minutes, they almost pulled a goal back.
With snow falling, a back pass to Murphy held up short and Limavady’s Harkin was first to the ball; his low shot was saved by the feet of the out-rushing Town keeper. The ball rebounded to McIvor who returned the ball goalwards but outside his box, Murphy did brilliantly to head the ball away; a great double save to preserve Town’s two goal lead.
The last action of the half saw Anderson play the ball forward from midfield and although he was fouled, he got his pass away to Kingsberry who played in Barr and his cheeky back-heel across goal was just wide.
The second half started with Limavady pressing forward as they tried to get a goal to get back into he game. Kevin Anderson was strong in midfield though and broke up a number of Limavady moves whilst Gourley continued to provide a threat on the left.
On 60 minutes, Limavady’s pressure almost ended in goal as a corner ball fell to Mullan unmarked at the back post but he shot over from close range.
McIvor had another chance when a ball from midfield beat the home defence but Murphy was again quick off his line to block the shot.
Town then rediscovered their attacking flow and, on 70 minutes, almost added a third goal when Anderson, Gourley and Kingsberry combined but the winger’s shot was just over.
With 15 minutes remaining, Town manger Watson made a double substitution with Matthew McCartan and recent signing Gary Boyle replacing Barr and King is a straight swap.
Both were immediately involved, with Boyle holding up the ball well and laying it off to Matty McCartan, whose energy and drive was creating chances against a tiring Limavady defence.
In the end, they couldn’t force any more goals but league leaders Limavady can have no complaints as they were well beaten by a Town side who battled hard for 90 minutes and were well deserving winners.
Town send thanks to match sponsor Malachy Wilson.
TOWN: Murphy, Moffatt, Greene, Waddell, Thompson, Kingsberry, Anderson, McGrath, Gourley (McParland 90), King (McCartan 75), Barr (Boyle 75). Subs: Croft, Wilson.
Referee: Mr Alistair Burns.
Banbridge Town committee and members wish to express their sincere sympathies to Julie Comiskey and Chris McGrath on their recent bereavements