The Reds came a cropper to a much more dangerous and confident Banbridge at Steelweld Park on Saturday, losing by a hefty five goal margin.
A hat-trick by Stephen Dowds in the first forty minutes from the short corner set piece did all the damage as they huffed and puffed before running out of ideas going forward.
Ian Hughes was again in top form and on countless occasions saved his team from a heavier defeat, including thwarting a late penalty flick.
With three games left, the Reds find themselves back in the relegation play-off feats with Cork earning a home point v Three Rock Rovers.
Bann had the majority of possession early on against understrength Cookstown missing Greg Allen, Jon Ames and Paul Thompson.
Five minutes in, a fantastic airborne pass picked out Josh Moffet’s run and Cookstown were drawn into a penalty corner. Stephen Dowds will have better flicks, but it did find the bottom corner, despite the efforts of the man on the line.
Cookstown fought back well and made good ground down the left hand side, but the last pass just evaded Andy McWhirter in a good position.
Nevertheless, Bann ended the quarter on top with further efforts by Dowds and Johnny McKee, well dealt with by Ian Hughes in goal.
Dowds was not to be denied for long and converted again from another corner. Cookstown ended the half strong with opportunities falling to Stuart Smyth and Ryan Millar.
Hughes was again required to keep the score at 2-0 most notably when McKee fired a shot towards the top corner after smashing skills down the right side by Owen Magee.
A series of corners early in the third quarter saw Hughes deny Dowds, Matthew Bell and McKee in quick succession. However, in the fortieth minute Dowds finally beat the Cookstown shotstopper low to his left to make it 3-0.
Wright went close soon afterwards before Bell got his name on scoresheet with a low flick from the corner set piece.
Banbridge made it 5-0 two minutes into the final quarter. Tight skills from Fraser Mills out wide on the left opened up the Cookstown defence and allowed a dink from Ross Beattie to somehow finds its way into the bottom corner.
The Reds kept pushing and, when Mark Crooks was unceremoniously taken out by Beattie inside the Bann 25, the County Down outfit found themselves down to ten and facing a short corner. Simon Todd’s flick just drifted wide.
Bann reverted to the counterattack game and on 52 minutes Moffet had an opportunity on the break. Hughes stood tall, however, and saved well. Soon afterwards Ryan Millar hit the upright after belligerently forcing his way into a shooting position.
Another misplaced pass in the midfield allowed Bann to break but Hughes, once again, saved with Owen Magee straight through.
Bann broke again and a robust challenge by Dan Crooks led to a penalty flick. Hughes again showed tremendous poise to save McKee’s effort from the spot.