Banbridge Town missed an opportunity to make their escape from the relegation battle on Saturday.
They were beaten 1-0 by Glebe Rangers in Ballmoney, allowing their opponents to climb level on points with the locals.
However, defeats for both Newington and Dollingstown kept Town five points clear of the endangered bottom five.
After a hard fought game, Town were left feeling hard done to get nothing from a game in which they were the better team for much of the 90 minutes but couldn’t recover from an early goal.
Chris McGrath’s injury picked up in the Queen’s game two weeks previous ruled him out for the rest of the season, otherwise manager Ryan Watson had a full squad to choose from. Dee McParland, making a rare start, came in to centre midfield to replace McGrath with Chris Kingsberry starting on the right wing, Ryan Moffatt at left back and James Wilson on the bench.
The home side had reduced the pitch to the minimum permitted dimensions as they attempted to nullify Town’s passing game. With a strong wind in their backs, Town struggled to cope with the narrow bumpy pitch and it was the home side who not surprisingly adapted with the conditions better.
After only two minutes, Town conceded; a break down the left wing saw a dangerous cross which evaded three Town defenders and made its way to the unmarked Chris Nicholl who had a simple tap-in at the back post. This was definitely not the start Town and their visiting supporters wanted.
However, they regrouped and went in search of an equaliser. Moffatt, Ryan Gourley and Stuart King were combining well on the left wing, many of their attacks ending in free kicks as the home side resorted to whatever means it took to stop them getting forward.
Town’s first real threat came on 25 minutes when Gourley played the ball to Kingsberry on the right but his cross was hacked clear. Town’s best chance came almost immediately after, when King played in Conor Downey but his shot from the edge of the area was just wide of the right post.
Town suffered a major setback on 35 minutes when Matthew McCartan was forced to leave the pitch following a clash of heads, Glenn Waddell came in at centre half with Kevin Anderson moving into midfield.
With games running out and every point precious, the visiting supporters were confident that if Town could get back on terms early in the second half they could go and win.
Both teams were on the attack from the off, Glebe winning a corner which Tuda Murphy rose high to claim. At the other end, Gourley and Downey combined to win a corner from which both Anderson and McParland had shots on goal but the ball was scrambled clear.
With 25 minutes remaining, Town upped the intensity and were doing all the pressing as the home side sat deep.
A Downey cross from the right found Gourley at the back post but his shot was blocked and went out for a corner; Gourley then turned provider and Kingsberry had a shot blocked.
The next attack almost brought Town level as a Downey curled shot from the right edge of the area came back off the bar and bounced over the end line.
Jamie Smith and Mark Teggart then came and immediately Smith was in the thick of the action. Downey made a strong run into the area and cut the ball back to the on-loan forward, whose effort was blocked by the home defence.
Stuart King had another goalbound effort blocked as the home side were stretched by Town’s repeated attacks.
With 15 minutes left, right back Stuart Thompson suffered a heavy challenge. After treatment he attempted to play on as Town had already made three substitutions but he was visibly hobbling.
Town continued to press forward in search of an equaliser but they couldn’t break down a resolute Glebe defence who resorted to whatever means necessary to preserve their lead.
The hosts held out and their narrow victory saw them move onto the same points total as Town, who stay ahead on goal difference, (-1 to Glebe’s -8). Other results saw Town end the day in seventh place with two games to play.
The injury to Matthew McCartan is a big setback as it is confirmed he suffered concussion and will be unavailable for the remaining games.
Stuart Thompson’s injury will be assessed on Tuesday night and hopes are high that he will be fit for next weekend.
TOWN: Murphy, Moffatt (C), Greene, Anderson, Thompson, Gourley (Teggart 75), McParland (Smith 75) McCartan (Waddell 35), Kingsberry, King, Downey.
Subs not used: Wilson, Pedlow.