Banbridge Town put in an impressive display at Mill Meadow on Saturday as they held third placed Moyola to a 0-0 draw in IFA Championship Two.
It could have been even better for Town, had they taken one of a number of chances and grabbed all three points.
Chris Kingsberry wasn’t available but Conor Downey, Marty Buchanan and Ryan Gourley all returned to the starting 11.
Stephen Croft kept his place in goal with fit again Tuda Murphy on the bench. James Wilson made his first start of the season having recovered from the broken leg he sustained in a pre-season friendly back in July.
Both teams set out to play open attacking football on an artificial surface, helped by the referee who tried to let the game flow.
Moyola’s playmaker Daniel McElhatton was making his presence felt as the home side dominated the first 15 minutes but Town’s defence were solid with Greene and Waddell making a number of excellent defensive headers.
James Wilson looked like he had never been away and was having a great game at right back. The midfield of Buchanan, Moffatt, McGrath and Anderson were coming more into the game and soon forced chances as McGrath, Downey, Moffat and Buchanan all had efforts on goal.
On 21 minutes, Moyola’s Dowie was booked for a foul on Moffatt in the centre circle. Thompson’s free-kick delivered a pinpoint accurate ball in to Anderson but his header went wide.
Ryan Gourley’s shot from outside the area then brought a good save from the Moyola keeper and at the other end, Moyola forced two corners in as many minutes as Croft dealt with both comfortably.
Town started the second half brightly as they sought the all important first goal. Stuart Thompson delivered a great cross from the left, which Downey’s outstretched leg just couldn’t reach.
Moyola won another corner which was punched clear by Croft; the ball was played back into the Town box and McElhatton’s goal bound header was cleared off the line by Moffatt with the keeper beaten.
Town continued to push with both Gourley and Downey having efforts on goal. McGrath headed over from a Thompson free-kick and then saw a volley from outside the area, from a Moffatt corner, well saved by the keeper.
Buchanan was picking out some great passes to set Downey and Gourley free but the Moyola keeper got down well at the far post to save a low shot from Downey.
With five minutes left, Buchanan and McGrath combined well and the latter’s pass found Downey on the right . He cut inside and fired hard and low across the goal but the ball flew just wide. McGrath then had another header just wide as Town sought a last-gasp winner but the game ended scoreless.
Although they were disappointed not to get all three points, this was Town’s best performance of the league campaign to date and on this form that all important first win and climb up the league table will not be far off.
Town went into this game 10 points and ten league places behind their opponents but matched them all over the pitch.
TOWN: Croft, Wilson, Waddell, Greene, Thompson, Gourley, Anderson, Buchanan, McGrath, Moffat, Downey. Subs: Murphy, Gray, Ferguson, Stoddart, Barr.