Bann Secure Semi Final Berth

On a sun drenched afternoon Banbridge played their first home game of the season against North Down. Coming off back to back wins last week the locals were going in as favourites but needed to start to produce the sort of hockey that seen them crowned Irish Champions last season.

Whatever the ever young Scott McCandless said in the team huddle must have worked as within the first couple of minutes seen Bann take the lead with
some great interchanging hockey between Bruce McCandless and Stevie Dowds (pictured) seen the latter square the ball to Scott Caruth to deflect into the far corner of the net on his home debut against the club he came from.

It didn’t take long for the second to follow as a bullish run from midfield saw Drew Carlisle release Dowds and when ready to shoot was brutally
taken down by the defender leaving the umpire no choice but to award a stroke which Bruce coolly dispatched low into the corner.

Ross McCandless then forced the North Down keeper into a fine save from a drag flick from their first short corner, The third came shortly after when
Dane Ward dispossessed the North Down centre back then playing a neat one two with Owen Magee before deflecting past the keeper to make it three.

North Down got a short corner at the end of the first half which Lennox easily dealt with, this was an encouraging sign from the big man.Bann started the second period with the same dynamic high tempo hockey with Dowds and Bruce McCandless at the heart of the majority of Banns attacks,
a nother corner rewarded again seen the keeper pull off a top save from Ross McCandless. The fourth came after some delightful skills from Dowds saw him
pass to Ward to deflect home for his second of the game.

Some great passing down the right hand side seen Bann break into the circle with Ward finding the foot of the North Down defender which Ross dragged high
into the net leaving the keeper no chance to open his account for the season, Bann were now 5-0 up and cruising at this point.

A jinking run from Dowds allowed him to flick the ball towards Ross Beattie who managed to get a touch on the ball in front of the defender and score giving
him his first goal in a Banbridge shirt, a fine reward from the energetic midfielder who never stopped running all day.

Right at the end some good build up play from Caruth and Bruce saw the latter get round the back of the defence and unselfishly pass the ball to Dowds who was left with a simple tap in to an empty goal. The goal is nothing sort of what dowds deserved as his pacey runs were a thorn in North Downs side all day.

Final score was Bann 7 North Down 0, a much better performance from the locals and a clean sheet kept which is always a bonus, this result leaves Bann with a top of the group decider against Annadale next weekend .