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Banbridge Town vs Rathfriland

Despite picking up three points at home to Coagh United before Christmas, Banbridge Town welcomed the new year off the back of a defeat away to Portstewart. Mark Kerr’s men will be looking to bounce back with a win at home to get back on track and continue to climb the table as they try to put pressure on the teams sitting above them.

Four changes were made to the Banbridge side that suffered a 2-1 defeat away to Portstewart in the Premier Intermediate League last time out; Conor Curran replaced Sean Og Gallagher to mark his debut for Banbridge Town, Adam Campell came into the side for Adam Hamilton, Liam Vaughan replaced Conor Downey and Matthew Taylor rejoined the starting 11 replacing John Deeney.

The game was evenly contested in the opening minutes, Banbridge had potential handball claims following a volley from Micheal McCavitt inside the box that struck an opposing defender, and seconds later a second penalty was protested by Banbridge as Liam Vaughan was tripped inside the area, but the referee waved both claims away.

Directly from the resulting goal kick, a long ball beat everyone in the midfield and Rathfriland forward Matthew Holloway found himself one on one with Town goalkeeper Niall Brady, knocking the ball around the keeper and slotting it into the Banbridge net to break the deadlock in the derby and give Rathfriland a one-goal lead only seven minutes into the first half.

Banbridge had their first clear-cut chance in the 13th minute, a quickly taken throw took Rathfriland by surprise and was flicked toward the outside of the box by Reece Doyle, Micheal McCavitt met the ball with pace but fired well over the bar.

The second half started in a similar fashion to the first with both sides chasing the next goal and adding fuel to the derby with feisty challenges. In the 50th minute, Micheal McCavitt had the best chance to level the game, surprisingly shooting over the bar unmarked with an open net.

Banbridge would have another chance in just a few minutes, Stephen McCavitt lined up to take a free kick from 25 yards out following a nasty challenge on Adam Campell that resulted in a yellow card. The free kick was inches from the bottom right corner and was dealt with well by the Rathfriland Goalkeeper to keep the scoreline intact.

Banbridge continued to chase an equalizer in the 90th minute and sent Goalkeeper Brady up to overload the Rathfriland box with red shirts. A scramble in the area resulted in a clearance that found James Costello one on one with his back to the Banbridge defender, a long range shot from inside the Rathfriland half rolled into the empty Banbridge net.

Town were unable to get back on level terms and the game ended 2-0. On Saturday Town are away to Lisburn Distillery in the Premier Intermediate League. Kick-off is at 2pm.