Spoils shared at Havelock
Bann welcomed Lisnagarvey to Havelock Park for their first game of 2012. Bann were hoping to get revenge for the defeat to the Hillsborough boys prior to Christmas.
Banbridge were missing current International Bruce McCandless, as he is currently training with the Irish team, who are preparing for their Olympic Qualifying tournament in Dublin. Bruce will not be available to play club hockey until the end of March. Garvey were also missing there prolific forward Timmy Cockram.
Bann started the sharper of the two sides and found themselves forcing Garvey back but were unable to create any clear cut chances in the final third. Bann did nearly get caught out early on as Garvey counter attacked from well inside their own half only to shoot narrowly wide. This break seemed to spur Garvey into their stride as they began to force the Bann defence back. As a result of this pressure Bann were reduced to 10 men as Ross McCandless was harshly sin binned for a professional foul at the edge of the Bann circle. Garvey were awarded a penalty corner from this foul and they dispatched the corner to take a 1 nil lead. Garvey continued to press forward and tried to extend their lead while Bann were reduced to 10 men. The Bann defence held strong, with Lennox having to make a couple of saves and Forbes and Carilsle making some last ditch tackles.
When Ross returned from his 5mins on the sidelines, Bann seemed to step up a gear and increased the intensity. Bann finally got a glimpse of goal when good work down the right hand side with Hugh McShane slipping the ball to Stevie Dowds who took off towards the circle and was fouled by two Garvey defenders before being awarded a penalty corner. Unfortunately Bann could not capitalise on this as Ross fired wide of the target.
Bann started the 2nd half with tempo and took the game to Garvey but once again were unable to force the Garvey keeper into action. The game became open with both teams searching for goals. It was Bann that finally got their break through when Bruno Brown in centre mid turned two players to find Stevie Dowds on the right hand side who slipped the ball to Ben Cosgrove in the Garvey circle. Ben unleashed an unstoppable shot across the Garvey Keeper into the side netting to get the score back onto level terms. Both teams had their chances to snatch all 3 points. Dowd’s broke free down the left and when he entered the circle he chose to shoot rather than pick a pass to the back post and leaving this glorious chance going wide. Garvey went close only for Lennox to make two saves late on, one from a penalty corner and a snap shot from Garvey’s Mark Raphael.
No more goals left both teams having to settle for a share of the points; however this result will suit Garvey better than Bann, as this leaves Garvey at the top of the Ulster league. Bann will now be without Lennox for the rest of the season as he undergoes surgery on his foot. Bann’s next game is a midweek home game against Kilkeel on the 18th January.