Banbridge ‘Harbour’ difficult start as Stevie puts Mourne men to the four

Banbridge travelled to Kilkeel on Saturday, a place where over the past number of years results have been hard to come by for the Havelock side. The weather conditions weren’t going to make the task any easier with the severe cold and blustery conditions; however 3 points was a must.

Bann looked lively from the offset and pressed hard around the Kilkeel circle, Dane Ward could have had a brace in the opening 10 minutes only for some excellent last ditch defending and a back post miss which crept narrowly under his stick, after a great ball into the circle from Irish international Bruce McCandless. However this was about as good as it got for Bann as they allowed the pace of the game to drop and numerous basic errors began to creep into their game. They struggled through a 20 minute period, letting the seasiders come into the game. It looked like Banbridge would go into the half frustrated with the scores deadlocked, however after some good work from Scott Caruth down the left hand side Banbridge won their first corner of the game. Ross McCandless seen his effort rebound off the post, to which another corner was awarded. This time he made no mistake, firing low and hard to the keepers left. This wrapped up a somewhat scrappy first half leaving Mark Tumelty with a few harsh words to say at halftime.

The second half kicked off and finally Banbridge started to move the ball and get some flow into their game. Drew Carlisle and Bruce McCandless looked lively and linked well down the right hand side. This pressure nearly paid off as Bann forced another corner; Stephen Dowds narrowly missed the target from the switch. Bann were getting into their stride by this stage and beginning to grasp control of the game, Kilkeel were having to work overtime to keep Bann at bay this was short lived as Bann increased their lead when an excellent Dane Ward run rounding two defenders and slipped the ball to Stephen Dowds allowing him to fire home from 10 yards to double the lead.  Killkeel created a few openings of their own but some fine work from Gareth Lennox in goals and a solid performance from an up and coming schoolboy Matthew Bell at left back kept the scoreline intact. From here Bann pushed on and a  defensive error by a Kilkeel defender allowed Ben Cosgrove to play in Stephen Dowds who rounded the last defender and rifled a reverse stick shot into the top corner of the net leaving the game it would seem done and dusted. Ben Cosgrove came close to furthering the lead after some nice stick work in the circle; however he saw his effort slide narrowly wide.  Banbridge increased their lead when Hugh McShane won a short corner minutes from the end which Dowds dispatched low and hard to complete his first senior hatrick for Bann. The game ended 4-0, a very satisfying result, but with some hard work still to be done.