Dowds hat-trick delights Banbridge

Stephen Dowds got a hat-trick for Banbridge. Pic: Rowland White / Presseye
Stephen Dowds got a hat-trick for Banbridge. Pic: Rowland White / Presseye

Stevie Dowds fired his first hat-trick of the season as Bann cruised to a 5-0 victory over Cookstown on Saturday.

Matthew Bell and Ross Beattie were also on target as the locals put themselves within touching distance of a European play-off spot.

“That will give Stevie a lot of confidence,” said Bann Head Coach Mark Tumilty.

“He played very well. It’s important for us to have him firing.

“The challenge to the group at the start of the season was to maintain last year’s levels. As a whole, we’ve been at six out of ten too often but the boys got back up to their level on Saturday.

“I was really, really pleased with the performance.

“There was a good energy about us and we did very well with a few guys missing from the squad.

“The lads all played to the level that they are capable of

“Other results went for us and we have a bit of space now so hopefully we can confirm our play-off place this weekend.”

Bann were captained by Peter Brown in the absence of Eugene Magee and the side was also buoyed by the return of his brother Phil, who played his first match since picking up a knee injury in december 2014.

“Petey was excellent,” said Tumilty. “He had a difficult period before Christmas but since he has showed the quality that he has.

“We were absolutely delighted to get Philip back in there too.

He gives us a bit extra and his return gives us good competition for places.

Bann didn’t have long to wait to go ahead as Dowds opened the scoring from a epnalty corner on just five minutes.

Dowds and McKee also tested stopper Ian Hughes before Dowds himself slotted the second into the bottom corner from another penalty corner.

Returning Bann keeper Gareth Lennox was tested soon after as a reverse shot was well kept out.

In the third quarter, Bann went straight on the attack in search of more goals.

Keeper Hughes did well to keep the score to two as he stopped a penalty corner that resulted from great play by Owen Magee. Johnny McKee then fired another chance high and wide.

Another Dowds effort from a corner was saved and as Matthew Bell tucked home, the umpire signalled for another PC.

Bann won another PC after good work by Jamie Wright but Hughes saved twice in quick succession from Dowds and then McKee on the reverse.

Dowds, however, then slammed home from yet another PC, low to the keeper’s left to make it 3-0.

Wright went close soon afterwards but Matthew Bell soon slotted home another corner to make it 4-0.

In the final quarter, tight skills from Fraser Mills out wide on the left opened up the Cookstown defence.

And Bann certainly made the hosts pay as a neat dink from Ross Beattie somehow found its way into the bottom corner for 5-0.

Things soon turned sour for the scorer though as he was yellow-carded for a tough tackle and surrendered a penalty corner on 50 minutes.

Ten man Bann continued to press and on 52 minutes Josh Moffett had an opportunity on break. Hughes again saved well.

A Cookstown mistake in midfield led to a Bann break and Owen Magee shot but was again met by a Hughes save with his feet.

With two minutes remaining, Bann earned a penalty flick but McKee was again denied.