Bann’s faltering 2012 season goes from bad to worse in four days at Havelock

Banbridge Ulster Premier League title campaign went up in smoke this week as they suffered home defeats to Cookstown and Instonians in quick succession. This, coupled with draws against NICS and Kilkeel in recent weeks, has left Bann with a mountain to climb. They will now need to regroup and concentrate on securing a top four finish as well as focus on the IHL and Irish Senior Cup.

Instonians, well marshalled by ex-internationals Paddy Brown and Mark Irwin, secured a 3-2 win for the Belfast side, despite Bann taking an early two goal lead through Ross McCandless and Ben Cosgrove. Cookstown defeated Bann 2-1 in midweek to edge them closer to current league champions Lisnagarvey, who subsequently lost at home to Annadale.

Bann v Mossley – Saturday 11th February
Bann first eleven made the journey to The Glade last Saturday to play Mossley in what is never an easy game. This was the first time that Ross Beattie had returned to his former club.
Bann started the brighter of the teams with some slick attacking hockey with Peter Brown, Matthew Bell and Stevie Dowds all prominent. Mossley found it difficult to gain a foothold in the game with their sporatic attacks capably dealt with by Ross McCandless and Drew Carlisle.
Bann opened the scoring ten minutes into the half when Ross McCandless powered home the visitors second penalty corner. This settled Bann who continued to dominate both territory and possession for long periods.
Bann stretched their lead on twenty minutes when Stevie Dowds beat the keeper with a reverse stick shot from the left of the circle. The remainder of the half was played out in the Mossley half with Bann continuing to look dangerous but unable to add to the scoreline.
Half Time: Mossley 1 Banbridge 2
Mossley started the second half in more determined fashion and forcing ann onto the backfoot although not troubling Andrew Mooney in goal. Unfortunately Owen Magee had to leave the pitch with a back injury which hopefully will not keep him sidelined for too long.
Bann managed to create several chances of their own and a combiation of some lacklustre finishing and good defending kept Mossley in a game that could easily have been out of their grasp.
Late on in the second half Mossley forced several penalty corners all of which were capably dealt with by the Bann defence. Just as it appeared that the match was drifting to an end Mossley managed to scored a scrambled goal from mid circle.
Full Time: Mossley 1 Banbridge 2
All in all a reasonably satisfactory performance away from home at a venue where it is always difficult to gain maximum points.
Team: A. Mooney, M.Bell, R.McCandless, S Forbes. D Carlisle, R. Beattie, P. Brown, H.McShane, P. Brown, O.Magee, S.Dowds, D. Ward, B. Cosgrove, S. Forbes.
Bann v Cookstown – Wednesday 15th February
On Wednesday night Bann entertained Cookstown in their latest Premier League fixture. A match made more important to both teams following Lisnagarvey losing the previous evening to Annadale. Bann had been forced into making several changes from the Mossley match with Owen Magee missing through injury and Drew Carlisle who had exam committments. Into the squad came Academy schoolboy Thomas Sturgeon and Ulster U18 member David McCracken.
From the start it was Cookstown who started the quicker and forced Bann to build patiently from deep in their own half. Slowly the home side started to string some passes together with Peter Brown and Stevie Dowds prominent in attack. It was Cookstown who forced the first penalty corners of the match which where well dealt with by Aaron Appleton in the Bann goal. Midway through the half Bann won a penalty corner of their own from which Ross mcCandless was unlucky to see his powerful drag flick thunder off the crossbar with the keeper beaten. Five minutes later Bann took the lead when following a reverse stick cross from the left of the circle by Ross Beattie was deflected home by a diving Scott Caruth. Just before half time Cookstown got back on level terms when their centre forward was on hand to score from close in giving Appleton no chance.
Half Time: Banbridge 1 Cookstown 1
The second half started in a similar vein to the first with Bann having to be patient with the ball at the back as they tried to start meaningful attacks. As the half progressed play became more confined to midfield with neither side being able to create any clear cut chances. The home side pushed hard to make the breakthrough but where unable to trouble the visiting keeper despite having several circle penetrations midway through the half. Cookstown also had several chances but could not trouble the home defence. Just as the match was heading towards a draw which would probably have been a fair result Cookstown managed to scramble a winner in the final minute when Bann failed to clear the ball from the circle. The final whistle sounded soon after condeming Bann to defeat.
Final Score: Banbridge 1 Cookstown 2
Team: A. Appleton, M.Bell, R.McCandless, St. Forbes, Sc.Forbes, R. Beattie, P.Brown, H.McShane, P.Brown, S.Dowds, D. Ward, S. Caruth, T. Sturgeon, B. Cosgrove, D. McCracken