Banbridge 5-3 Cookstown
Cookstown 1st XI travelled to Havelock on Saturday afternoon for the fourth time this season to face an in-form Banbridge side.
Having already fallen to Banbridge in the Anderson, Kirk and Senior Cup, Cookstown were keen to break the mold with a positive result against their age-old rivals.
Much to Cookstown’s dismay, the game started in similar fashion to those previous encounters with Ban’ taking the lead after just six minutes through Bruce McCandless, who slapped a rebound hard into the top left hand corner of Hughes’ goal.
Determined not to let the game slip into Ban’s hands early off, Cookstown were revitalised with an equalising goal quickly after the restart.
Mark Crooks drove baseline and squared to Stuart Smyth, his reverse stick sweep gliding high into the Banbridge goal, levelling the score line at one-all.
The Reds then managed to creep a goal ahead, Greg Allen combining with Simon Todd, whose reverse stick shot evaded Gareth Lennox in the Banbridge goal and found the bottom right hand corner.
Upon finding themselves 2-1 down, Banbridge began an onslaught of attacks late into the first half which were duly defended by IH1 and his short corner defence; batting away three consecutive short corners as the whistle blew for half-time.
As expected Banbridge came out firing directly from push-back, with most of the offence being played through Stephen Dowds. Banbridge won another share of penalty corners and were finally able to convert and take the lead through a Dowds brace.
A defensive lapse then allowed Banbridge their fourth, Hughes drawn out of goal only for the ball to be volleyed home again by Dowds at the top of the D.
The quick Ban’ turnaround saw the Reds on the wrong side of a 4-2 lead, with only ten minutes to play.
Any hope of a Reds comeback was quashed when Banbridge broke on the counter-attack, leaving Hughes facing a two-on-one for an easy tap-in finish.
With just under five minutes to play Stuart Smyth grabbed the final goal of the game, evading his Ban’ defender and firing low past Lennox from close range.