Banbridge Town FC v Limavady Utd FC
Banbridge Town welcomed the Premier Intermediate League leaders Limavady United to Crystal Par on Saturday in the third of 5 play-off matches. Town came into the game on back of two below par performances in the last 7 days which ended in defeats against Newry City and Moyola Park. Manager Ronnie Haughey was looking for a much improved performance in front of the home fans. Andrew Wilson made his first start for a number of matches and James Wilson moved to centre-half to replace Stephen Greene who was suspended. On the bench were 3 players who featured prominently in the U-20’s Development League title win, Nathan Weir, Michael McCavitt and Brian Johnston.
With rain falling steadily the teams took to the immaculaletly prepared Cystal Park in front of a another good crowd of vocal home supporters. The early exchanges were even matched as both teams tried to get the upper hand. Town’s midfield of Moffatt, Anderson, Teggart and Clydesdale worked hard to contain the visitors for whom player/manager Paul Owens was prominent. The first threat came from Owens who shot wide when unmarked on 7 minutes. However town were also and attacking threat and forced a corner after 10 minutes. From Moffatts delivery Acheson rose highest to flick the ball into the net and put Town ahead.
The goal lifted the home side and they continued to press with Downey and Wilson leading the line but getting little joy from the well organised Limavady defence. Hume and McCreadie having been scoring regularly for Limavady but both were well marshalled by Town’s defence with Acheson back to his best. A free kick following a foul by Clydesdale was headed to safety but the ball was played forward again and a cross from the right was volleyed into the top corner from all of 25 yards by Owens, giving Andrew Cullen in Town’s goal no chance. The home keeper kept this team in the game diving to his left to push Hume’s low shot past the post. With 5 minutes remaining Town put together their best move of the half; Moffatt and Wilson combined well on the left with Wilson putting in a good cross to Downey but the danger was cleared. The half ended with a Clydesdale free kick on 45 minutes was headed out for a corner.
The game was evenly balanced with both teams creating chances. On 50 minutes a through ball from Moffatt found the lively Stephen Teggart who turned his defender and shot across goal but just wide of the post. Limavady were also stretching Town’s defence with Owens and McCreadie prominient, combining well to create an opening but Cullen saved well. Acheson was booked for a foul on McCreadie. Owen’s free kick was punched clear by Cullen with McCreadie’s follow up shot finding the side netting. Town continued to push forward Wilson, Downey and Teggart moved the ball well to create an opening for Clydesdale but his shot rebounded out to McCreadie who had clear space to run into. Downey’s tackle snuffed out the danger, picking up a booking in the process.
With 20 minutes remaining and the teams locked together at 1-1 Stephen McCavitt replaced Downey. He made an immediate impact, his pace creating panic in the visitor’s defence and creating an opening for Teggart whose powerful goalbound shot hit Kells in the Limavady goal and went out for a corner. Clydesdale’s corner was cleared upfield to McCreadie who drove forward, evading the unfortunate James Wilson who slipped when going in to tackle, and firing low past Cullen to put Limavady in front with 15 minutes to go. Town didn’t give up; Pedlow replaced Anderson and Moffatt’s shot on goal tested Kells while at the other end Cullen saved from both Hume and McCreadie in short succession. With 5 minutes remaining Nathan Weir came on for Andy Wilson but Limavady held on for a big 3 points in their quest for back to back league titles.
This was the improved performance the management had asked for from the home side and everyone gave their all in a tough but fair contest. Town remain in 5th place in the league table and travel to Donegal Celtic on Tuesday night, 25th, 7.15pm KO and their final game of the current season is back at Crystal Park v Tobermore United on Saturday next, 29th, 3.00pm KO.
Team: Cullen, McCartan, Devlin, Acheson, J Wilson, Anderson (Pedlow 80mins), Clydesdale, Teggart, Downey (S McCavitt 70), A Wilson (Weir 85), Moffatt. Unused subs: Johnston, M McCavitt.
Referee: Mr D Kelly.