Lisburn Distillery v Banbridge Town (Lough 41 Premier Intermediate League) – Saturday 26th March 2022
Lisburn Distillery returned to league action on Saturday for the first time in three weeks when
Frankie Wilson’s Banbridge side visited New Grosvenor. The Whites good run of form between
November and January has stuttered of late with two defeats and a draw in the previous four league games, a win would be important in this game if a top six finish were to be achieved.
There were two changes made to the team that lost 3-1 in the Intermediate Cup quarter-final against Limavady; Brendan Bennett and Lewis Higginson started in place of Jonathan Edge and Conan McAuley.
The Whites had a bright start to the game and it was Mick O’Hanlon who had the first shot of goal from outside the box after collecting the ball from a throw in but the ball went well off target.
After this though the visitors slowly began to control the game, though the closest they came to
scoring was in the 7th minute when Jonah Nicholl was called upon to make a double save from efforts inside the area before a defender was eventually able to clear the danger.
Town were on the attack again after 24 minutes when they countered after a Distillery attack broke down but the first effort on goal was blocked by a well-placed home defender and the follow up effort went wide of Nicholl’s left hand post.
After this, the home side did have a couple of opportunities to score but were unable to make them count. Firstly, in the 26th minute Christian Irvine tried to capitalise when a high free kick into the box was spilled by the opposition ‘keeper, Lewis Hunter, but by the time the defender was able to get a shot off Hunter had recovered to make the save. Just a minute later Jordan Lucas and O’Hanlon linked up well on the edge of the box but the crucial final pass just did not come off and the ball trickled behind for a goal kick.
Banbridge did have the ball in the back of the net after 34 minutes when Nicholl this time was unable to claim the ball from a corner but thankfully, for the home support, the referee blew for a foul on the Distillery stopper.
Both teams had one further chance apiece to break the deadlock immediately before the break.
Firstly, the visitors tried to take advantage when a header back to Nicholl from Joe Reid fell short butthe onrushing ‘keeper was able to get a hand to the ball to force the attacker wide and Irvine came from nowhere to block the eventual effort on goal that looked set to head into the open goal.
When the resulting corner was cleared the Whites immediately went on the attack and it was another pass back that caused a problem when Hunter attempted to clear the ball upfield first time but sliced the effort. Lucas sought to take advantage but with the ball bobbling up on the pitch, he could not get it under his control and again Hunter eventually recovered to claim the ball.
The half-time whistle blew with the game scoreless and leaving a big 45 minutes ahead for Distillery’s season.
Half-time: Lisburn Distillery 0-0 Banbridge Town
The home side again started the half brightly and threatened the opposition goal two minutes after the restart when Higginson met Bennett’s cross from the left but the midfielders head went just over the bar.
Two minutes later and there were appeals, perhaps half-heartedly, from the home side for a penalty when O’Hanlon went down in the box after collecting a pass from Lucas but the referee dismissed the appeals.
As had been the case in the first half the visitors soon began to make their way back into the game and had their first effort on goal of the half in the 53rd minute when an effort from just inside the box flew across goal but wide of the post.
Ten minutes later and a similar effort on goal saw Nicholl called into action to push the ball around the post for a corner, which was cleared.
In an effort to break the deadlock, the Whites introduced McAuley and Caolon Conlon, in place of Lucas and Higginson, but it was the visitors who scored in the 73rd minute when substitute Sam Robb caught everyone out with a shot across goal from the edge of the box that found its way into the bottom right hand corner.
Distillery attempted to push for an equaliser in the closing 15 minutes but seldom troubled Hunter in the opposition goal. The tide maybe swung in the Whites favour slightly in the 87th minute when Town substitute Graeme Edgar was given his marching orders for an off the ball incident.
The Whites did have one final chance in added time when a deep free-kick found Bennett at the back post but a visiting defender was able to get across to block the effort on goal.
The final whistle brought disappointment for the home side, who now face three must win games against Portstewart (twice) and Limavady to secure a top six finish.
Full-time: Lisburn Distillery 0-1 Banbridge Town
Nicholl, Dillon, Clarke, Irvine, Reid, Higginson, O’Hanlon, Harris ©, Sullivan, Lucas,
Lisburn Distillery substitutions;
Kenny, Edge, Angus, McAuley (for Lucas, 70 mins), Young (for
Sullivan, 80 mins), Conlon (for Higginson, 70 mins)