Banbridge Men’s first team survived a potential banana skin on their quest to regain the Ulster Premier league title at the weekend.
They travelled to take on Kilkeel without their international players and came away with a 3-0 victory.
Mid-table side Kilkeel had the potential to cause an upset, particularly with four of Bann’s most talented players off on international duty.
Banbridge were also without defender Philip Brown but they coped very well without the senior players.
Banbridge Academy skipper Johnny McKee bagged two goals after Jamie Wright had opened the scoring.
Another notable outcome of the game was a debut for 15 year-old starlet Jake Rowe, who put in an accomplished display beyond his years.
It was the quickest of starts for Banbridge, who earned an ultimately fruitless penalty corner with just 20 seconds on the clock. Soon after, Wright converted a well-worked team goal to set Bann on their way.
McKee made it two before half-time as he lashed home a fantastically struck reverse from the edge of the circle.
A couple more penalty corners went unrewarded for Bann as the home stopper pulled off a couple of impressive saves, most notable from Matthew Bell.
Visiting goalkeeper Gareth Lennox had to be alert to ensure Kilkeel didn’t get a goal back from a penalty corner of their own and his smart save was soon rewarded as McKee put the game beyond any remaining doubt.
The young midfielder sewed up the win by converting a pass from Sam Farson.
It could have been even more as Banbridge continued to press, safe in the knowledge that the points were already in the bag.
Fraser Mills made a superb break from inside his own circle, carrying the ball the length of the pitch but his cross-cum-shot went wide of the post and failed to find a Bann team-mate to convert.
Nonetheless, it was a routine victory for Banbridge, who remain five points clear of rivals Lisnagarvey at the top of the Ulster Premier League table.