If ever a scoreline did an injustice to a team then this was it!
It was cruel on Ryan Watson and his side at Mill Meadow on Saturday when the final whistle went and home side Moyola Park were 5-2 winners.
For 99% of the first half, Banbridge Town played their best football for many a long day and pulverised one of the league’s top sides yet construed to inflict this defeat on themselves with a string of individual errors and a silly sending off which ultimately ended in tears and a loss of three points.
Without the suspended Ally Wilson, Town brought back Martin Buchanan and Mark Teggart and got off to the best possible start with a first minute goal.
A sublime Conor Downey free-kick into the box was met by the head of John Murphy who steered his effort past the advancing keeper Marty Farniok. The perfect start!
Banbridge then proceeded to dictate matters playing some terrific football which left Moyola chasing shadows.
The home side almost cashed in on a poor Stephen Croft clearance soon after but the Town’s keeper saved the situation at the second attempt. Moyola’s Gallagher found himself in the referee’s book after a high challenge on Stephen Greene on 16 minutes. This seemed to upset the Banbridge defender and he was guilty of a rash challenge on Moyola’s Chris Dowie in the penalty area seconds later. Dowie, one of Championship Two’s leading marksmen, stepped up to level matters from the spot.
Undeterred, Town again assumed control and on 23 minutes took a 2-1 lead when Conor Downey swerved a wonderful 20 yard free over keeper Farniok after Mark Teggart had been fouled when racing through.
Five minutes later, Teggart saw yellow after grappling with Moyola’s McAllister and this would have a very significant effect on the game for Banbridge sooner rather than later.
Against the run of play, Moyola equalised on 32 minutes when Mark Waddell rose uncrhallenged to head home a corner.
Two minutes later came a hammer blow to Town when Mark Teggart was sent off for the second time this season after a needless foul on Moyola’s Gray leaving the referee with no option but to produce red.
This handed the impetus to the home side and ultimately two goals from Moyola within five minutes decided the fate of Town on this eventful afternoon.
On 57 minutes, a ball was threaded through Town’s rearguard which Stephen Greene misjudged and Dowie quickly reacted to score off the underside of the bar. It was 4-2 when Gallagher rounded Croft to tap in.
New signing Chris Coleman was introduced in place of Stephen Greene on 67 minutes and immediately brought a composure at the back which had been sadly lacking.
The hardworking Mattie McCartan, who always leads by example, fired over on 84 minutes and again two minutes later forced a good save from Farniok after another forceful run.
Town’s miserable afternoon was complete as Moyola hit their fifth in injury time when Dowie notched his fourth goal to give the scoreline a flattering look.
For Town John Murphy, Mattie McCartan and sub.Chris Coleman could certainly be exempt from any criticism.
MOYOLA: Farniok, McAllister, Stewart, McQuillan, Waddell, Gray, Lucas, Gallagher, Dowie, Wilkinson, Walls. Subs: Barrow, Taggart, Healy (Wilkinson 75), Black, Bradley.
BANBRIDGE TOWN: Croft, Wilson, Greene, Murphy, Waddell, Buchanan, Evans, McCartan, Dennison, Downey, Teggart.
Subs: Coleman (Greene 67), Gourley (Evans 58), Stoddard (Dennison 79), Gray, Watson.
Referee: Killian Kerr, Lurgan.