Skipper Stephen delivers a second half equaliser for battling Banbridge

James Wilson in action against Dollingstown. INBL1613-220PB
James Wilson in action against Dollingstown. INBL1613-220PB

Banbridge Town skipper Stephen Greene led fron the front on Saturday, netting a second half equaliser to level the derby.

Town had produced a weak first half performance and went in 1-0 behind at the break but a much-improved second half ensured they were more than deserving of a 1-1 draw at home to Dollingstown.

Matthew McCartan started alongside Chris McGrath in central midfield. INBL1613-217PB

Matthew McCartan started alongside Chris McGrath in central midfield. INBL1613-217PB

The result keeps Town in fifth spot in the Championship Two table, seven points ahead of the bottom five but having played more matches than the teams below them.

Banbridge were without Conor Downey who was away with work, Gary Boyle coming in up front. Otherwise the home side were at their full compliment, with Stephen Greene captaining the side in place of Ryan Moffatt who was on the bench.

This was a game of two halves, the strong wind playing its part, as two determined teams played out a keenly contested match with a draw probably a fair result.

The away side opted to play with the strong wind in their backs, attacking the Coach end, and they started the strongest of the two sides, pressing and controlling the ball.

Gary Boyle started up front in the absence of Conor Downey. INBL1613-219PB

Gary Boyle started up front in the absence of Conor Downey. INBL1613-219PB

The visitors gave Banbridge some early defending to do, however Stephen Greene and Kevin Anderson didn’t give the Dollingstown attackers an inch of space.

Niall Lavery did call Town keeper Tuda Murphy into action from range but the stopper made a good save.

However, on 13 minutes, he couldn’t prevent the opener.

A clearance from his opposite number McPartlan wasn’t cut out by Town’s midfield and the ball was picked up by striker Josh Norton to race forward before letting fly with a powerful shot across goal. Murphy did well to get down and get a slight touch on the ball but he couldn’t keep it out.

Adam Pedlow bursts down the wing. INBL1613-2PB

Adam Pedlow bursts down the wing. INBL1613-2PB

Buoyed by their goal, Dollingstown were unlucky not to go further ahead on 20 minutes when winger Adam Walker found space down the left with his shot across goal clipping the post on it’s way out.

When Town did manage to get into the visitors half, the final ball proved not good enough and McPartlan was a virtual spectator.

Ryan Gourley and Adam Pedlow provided the width but they were being pegged back by the advancing Dollingstown wing backs whilst striker Gary Boyle struggled to find a way into the game due to a lack of service.

It had been a struggle of a first half but the second was a different story.

Playing with the wind behind them and manager Ryan Watson’s half-time team talk in their minds, the second half gave the home side a new lease of life, with Banbridge playing with more urgency and intent.

King was finding more space in the Town midfield and began to dictate the play, with McGrath using the ball well to open up the pitch for his team mates.

Despite having a lot of possession, the home side were struggling to break down the Dolingstown defence. Watson didn’t wait long to change things, making a double substitution on 55 minutes, Neil Barr and Ryan Moffatt replacing Adam Pedlow and Gary Boyle in a straight swap.

This proved just the tonic they needed, with Banbridge now asking all the questions as Moffatt on the left dictated play. On 60 minutes, Barr registered Town’s first meaningful shot of the match, holding up the ball well before a neat one two found him space on the edge of the box.

Greene and Anderson were strong at the back, working the ball out wide for full-backs Stuart Thompson and James Wilson to launch another attack upfield. Thompson was linking well down the left with Moffatt and King as Town began to take more control of the game.

With 25 minutes left, a dangerous counter attack released Gourley down the right and his pace took him past his marker, drawing a foul and a free kick in a dangerous position on the right.

And that was the yield the equaliser as King’s delivery was perfect to find Greene’s perfectly timed sun and the skipper nodded his side level.

Banbridge were now in the ascendancy and forced Dollingstown to play mainly on the break. McGrath and McCartan were working the ball quicker and were proving to be a real handful in the middle of the park.

With 10 minutes to go Town were unlucky not to go ahead when Thompson released Moffatt down the left. He found King, whose delivery was just inches too high for Barr to convert.

Moffatt was next to go close as his shot was tipped over the bar.

And that meant the derby ended in a deserved draw as both teams claimed what could prove to be a valuable point.

TOWN: Murphy, Thompson, Greene, Anderson, Wilson, Pedlow (Moffatt 55), McGrath, McCartan, Gourley, King, Boyle (Barr 55).

Unused subs: Waddell, Smith, Kingsberry.