Banbridge 1 Cookstown 2
THE Reds did their Premier League hopes a power of good with this well deserved victory over Bann at Havelock Park on Wednesday evening. Cookstown started in the ascendancy and had Bann penned in their own half for long periods of the game.
Bann keeper Appleton, was called on to make saves early on as he kept his side in the game, including a penalty corner save from Allen who had skipped past the first two runners. He saved at close range from Raymond Miller and then, after good approach play from Andy Barbour and Greg Allen, Mark Crooks just could not get the final connection with the goal gaping.
As is usual with Bann, their penalty corner routine can be their match winner with Ross McCandless deadly from the edge of the D. In a swift counter attack Bann won their first penalty corner and the stage was set for McCandless. However, luckily for Cookstown, the ball crashed off the crossbar and over to safety. As it happened this was to be Bann’s only penalty corner of the game such was Cookstown’s supremacy. Yet again Appleton kept his side in it as Cookstown looked to make their pressure tell. In a rare Bann forray a mis-hit reverse shot decieved Hughes and Scott Caruth was on hand to score for the home side.
Undeterred Cookstown kept the tempo high and with Matthew Rollins pushing forward and taking McCandless out of the centre of the home defence, chances were still being created.
With 5 minutes until the half was up another attack found Andy Barbour at the top of the circle and his slick pass was diverted in to net by Greg Allen for the equaliser.
Into the second half, and the pattern of the game remained the same with Cookstown pressing and Bann containing and looking to hit on the break. David Best was pushed into midfield and was involved in many of Cookstown’s attacks as he combined well with Timmy Smyth on several occasions. Mid way through the half Ian Hughes saved brilliantly from a Dane Ward effort which looked odds on a goal.
Cookstown’s play became disjointed for a period as chances remained at a premium. With the clock ticking down play became more frantic as Cookstown looked for the winner. They were also caught on the break but Euan Butler was on hand on a couple of occasions to snuff out the danger. Two minutes remaining and during a melee in the Bann circle, Gareth Cuddy got the vital touch to sweep over the line and secure the victory.
Another big goal from Gareth in a big game , a great habit to have.
This win sees Cookstown close the gap on their main rivals and the fact that Garvey had been beaten the previous evening was an added incentive to win at Bann.