Despite needing a late goal to see off Cookstown 1-0 on Saturday, Banbridge’s performance was much more like it.
Head Coach Mark Tumilty praised his squad for their display at Havelock Park as they put their Irish Senior Cup defeat to Railway Union behind them.
“I was really pleased with the performance,” he said.
“Ian Hughes was outstanding for them in goals and their back line defended very well.
“We created an awful lot of opportunities, which we didn’t take. It just didn’t really fall for us. We spent nearly the whole game in and around their circle though.
“We were more patient than we have been and didn’t play quite as direct. We were playing more like we did last year when we were doing well, which was very pleasing.
“Cookstown were happy to sit back and take a draw and we had to play well to win.
“It was an important result for us, especially with Monkstown getting beaten. Teams are going to drop points. We know we always have to be at our best to win.”
The game almost fell victim to the weather but several Bann supporters spent a hour before the start to clear the pitch of standing water.
Quarter one, two and three all followed a similar trend with Bann attacking a stubborn Cookstown defence and failing to open the scoring due to a combination of poor finishing and inspired goalkeeping from Hughes. Towards the end of the first half, the keeper saved well from a Jamie Wright effort.
A Eugene Magee short corner crashed off the post early in the second half as Bann continued to be frustrated.
Rarely were Cookstown seen as an attacking force and they did not register one penalty corner in the sixty minutes. In fact, the visitors were defending deeper and deeper as the half progressed. Bann cut open the defence a number of times but could not finish these clear cut chances.
It took until the 56th minute for Bann to find a way past Hughes. New boy Brad Logan was fouled in the 22 and from the resulting penalty corner, Eugene Magee sent a rocket drag flick into the roof of the net to secure a result that was just reward for the home team due to their dominance of possession and territory.
“We probably haven’t hit the heights that we would haveliked to this season but it was never going to be like last year and that’s something we have to get used to,” said Tumilty.
“We have to get ourselves up for every game this year.
“We had a few honest conversations with the squad last week and I was delighted for them all because they worked so hard. We got a break when we needed it and it sets us up well for this weekend’s game.”