Banbridge Town’s unbeaten away run came to an end on Saturday when they went down 3-1 to Tobermore United.
It was third against fourth, the teams level on points but, despite Matty McCartan’s third goal in as many games, the home side earned the victory with two late goals.
It was a much changed Town starting 11, with seven first team regulars missing. Captain Ryan Moffatt, Tuda Murphy and Chris McGrath were unavailable, as were the injured Conor Downey and Stuart Thompson. Kevin Anderson was unavailable due to his concussion whilst Neil Barr withdrew from the squad due to illness on Saturday morning.
As a result Damian McParland made his first start of the season in midfield and Jamie Smith made his full debut up front.
The game started at a good pace and Tobermore’s Trevor Parkhill almost opened the scoring with less than five minutes on the clock but his shot was deflected behind.
The Banbridge defence was having trouble dealing with Tobermore’s constant pressure and Glenn Waddell picked up an early booking for a mistimed tackle on the bumpy pitch.
A number of quick corners in succession by Tobermore finally paid off in the 14th minute when Town failed to deal with another inswinging corner and Keane gave Town keeper Stephen Croft no chance with a close range finish.
Town were settling into the game and were more of an attacking threat after going behind. On 18 minutes, Ryan Gourley played in Jamie Smith but his first time shot went wide.
On the half hour Smith turned provider when he picked out King on the left with a great crossfield ball but he couldn’t find the target.
The home side started the second half positively and Parkhill had another great chance well saved by Croft.
Town were still pressing forward with Gourley on the left wing looking the most likely to prise open the home defence.
On 55 minutes, Banbridge got their equaliser when Gourley found Kingsberry and his clever reverse pass found Matty McCartan, whose shot took a slight deflection to beat McGraw and level proceedings.
The goal lifted Town and it was they who looked the more dangerous.
With 25 minutes left Town had a great chance to go ahead. Gourley beat his man on the left wing and delivered a delightful cross across goal but the in-rushing Smith and King just failed to get the vital touch to turn the ball home.
They were to pay for that missed chance as Tobermore went ahead on 83 minutes,
A period of sustained pressure forced the Town defence into a series of last gap clearances which ended with the hard working Parkhill smashing home at the second time of asking.
Town didn’t give up. James Wilson overlapped well on the right and his cross was met by Gourley whose shot was punched clear.
In stoppage time though, Stewart made sure of all three points when he expertly volleyed home a cross from the edge of the box.
Town have no game next weekend and are next in action when they host Moyola at Crystal Park on Saturday 12th March.
TOWN: Croft, Wilson, Greene, Waddell, Jones, Gourley, McParland, McCartan, Kingsberry (Pedlow 80), King, Smith, (Boyle 75). Unused sub: Buchanan.