Banbridge Town were hit for six in a disastrous day at Crystal Park on Saturday.
Sport & Leisure Swifts ran riot, securing a final 6-0 score-line as Town saw Stephen Greene sent off on the way to a result that leaves them still searching for their first league win of the season.
Town were without Conor Downey (holidays), Chris McGrath (suspended) and Matthew McCartan (travelling) but had Stuart Thompson available again after suspension and Kevin Anderson making his first league start of the campaign.
Town came flying at their opponents from kick off as a promising move involving Moffat, Gourley and Barr gave the visitors some defending to do before it was snuffed out.
However, the optimism of the locals soon took a blow on six minutes when a weak back pass from Stephen Greene was intercepted by the Sport & Leisure winger Kevin Lynch who calmly slotted home the opening goal under the onrushing Stephen Croft.
With plenty of football still to play, captain Ryan Moffatt rallied his team to get back into the game. Sport & Leisure were growing in confidence as a result of the goal, winning the battle in midfield and asking all the questions.
Banbridge were forced back and had to play on the counter for long periods of the first half, trying to find an outlet down the wings with Gourley and Ferguson as they searched to bring hard-working striker Neil Barr into the game.
Town’s best chance of an equaliser came from a free-kick down the right but Sport & Leisure’s well organised defence dealt with it well.
Before the break, the midfield pairing of Marty Buchanan and Kevin Anderson began to assert themselves, winning more possession and using the ball effectively. The half time whistle came too soon for a Town side that was starting to get a foothold in the game.
However, their task became much harder after only a few minutes, when a poorly cleared ball was picked up in the Banbridge half and as Sport & Leisure winger Lynch broke with intent and through on goal, he was brought down by an ill-judged challenge from Stephen Greene as he tried to rectify his earlier mistake.
The referee had no hesitation in showing a red card. Sport & Leisure captain Johnson stepped up and fired home the penalty to giving the visitors a two goal cushion and with an extra man the game was all but over as a contest.
Town, now fighting an uphill battle, reshuffled with captain Ryan Moffatt pushing into midfield as David Gray and Jordan Hayes replaced Ferguson and Barr.
The local boys worked tirelessly chasing every ball as they fought hard to find a foothold in the game, Sport & Leisure however began to over-run their 10 men. The visitors added a third goal through substitute Glenholmes and Lynch added a fourth after 70 minutes
A quickly taken Gallagher free kick just inside the Town’s half then released the alert Lynch who completed his hat-trick.
For the last ten minutes, the ten men of Banbridge pushed up the pitch and asked all the questions in what was arguably their best spell, forcing the visiting keeper to make a good save.
A miserable afternoon, however, was compounded when a sixth goal came right at the end after a blocked shot was deflected fortuitously to the waiting Glenholmes who headed home from close range.
All in all, it was a bad day at the office for a Town side who never really found their rhythm.
Next Saturday Town, host Moneyslane FC at Crystal Park in round two of the Bob Radcliffe Cup (kick-off 2.30pm).
TOWN: Croft, Thompson, Waddel, Greene, Moffat, Gourley, Buchanan, Anderson, Kingsberry,Ferguson, Barr.