Windsor Park Cup final a step closer

Louise McDowell

Reporter:

Louise McDowell

Banbridge Rangers moved within one match of a Windsor Park Cup Final after they saw off Dollingstown at Cheney Park on Saturday, 9 March.

Only a point seperated the two sides in the race for the Intermediate A Title last season so it was always going to be a closely fought encounter. Both teams had a host of key personnel also missing which, accompanied by some trecherous weather conditions made for a less than inspiring first half of football.

Former Gers striker Colin Cunningham was the main threat for Dollingstown throughout and almost set up the opener with a jinking run and squared ball with the resultant shot coming back off the base of the post. Cunningham then headed over from close range whilst at the other end the Mallen brothers had two good opportunities. Stuart saw a headed blocked midway through the half from six yards out, then older brother Andy had a good chance with his back to goal but was smothered out.

Dollingstown lost full back Jake Redpath in the first half and switched Jones into his position at right back. A tactical switch from Manager Ally Wilson to move Stuart Mallen into the left wing area proved to be the game winning move.

Within ten minutes of the restart Stuarty Mallen had got the run on the inside of Jones and cut across the ball to fire into the far bottom corner.

Banbridge Rangers looked very much like the team in control but in the 65th minute a deflected strike from twenty five yards from Dollingstown substitute Mitchell spun into the far corner.

The pendulum swung the other way and Dollingstown were an inch away from taking the lead three minutes later when Cunninghams half volley crashed off the underside of the crossbar.

With just over ten minutes to go Banbridge Rangers retook the lead with a similar move as Cahoon flicked on a header between Town defenders Moffett and Jones. Stuart Mallen raced onto the flick on and executed a half volley with the outside of his left foot past the Dollingstown keeper.

The best chance for the travelling side was with four minutes to play. A cross from the left looked destined to be tapped in at the back post from a yard out but a covering challenge by Nathan Baird saved the game from extra time.

Substitute Adam Loughlin then wrapped up the game in stoppage time with a composed finish when through one on one with the keeper. Loughlin was played through by a feat of brilliance by striker Josh Cahoon who controlled a ball that seemed to hang in the air forever and swivelled in one movement to play Loughlin in.

Banbridge Rangers now go into the last four of the IFA Intermediate Cup Quarter Finals as the only non NIFL side. There is no doubt the other three teams will want the Gers in the draw but as underdogs anything is possible.

The Semi Final tie, when drawn, will be played at a Neutral Venue on either Monday 1 or Wednesday 3 April.

Seven of the squad on Saturday also played in Banbridge Rangers last Intermediate Cup Quarter Final tie. No less than eight years ago away to Carrick Rangers. These players were also part of the clubs journey from the Newcastle League and Divison 3 and 4 of Mid Ulster. A phenomenal feat to get to this stage of such a prestigious competition.

BRFC Team: Bryan McMullan, Ryan Gregg, Brian Johnston, Chris Chambers, Nathan Baird, Colin Cousins (c), Andy Mallen (William Frazer '80), Scott Ward, Stuart Mallen, Paul Greenaway (Adam Loughlin '87) & Josh Cahoon (Jonny Porter '90). Unused subs: Ivon Blevins & Ally Wilson.

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