Lisburn Distillery v Banbridge Town (PLAYR-FIT Premier Intermediate League) – Saturday 13th January 2024
Lisburn Distillery played host to Banbridge Town on Saturday, when the sides met at Crystal Park earlier in the season the Whites won it with a Ryan McNickle goal late in injury time so will have been hoping for the same outcome but perhaps a little earlier in the game!
Barry Johnston picked much the same side that has narrowly lost against Limavady the previous week but Johnny Angus did return to the starting eleven, with Johnny Newell making way.
The Whites applied some early pressure and after four minutes, Robert Geddis sent a dangerous looking cross into the opposition box towards Dean Lewis but he could not get the ball under control and it went out for a goal kick.
There was a scare for Distillery down the other end in the seventh minute when a cross from the right took a deflection and appeared to strike Dylan Whiteway on the arm but the referee waved away the appeals much to Town’s frustration and Distillery’s relief.
The home side thought they had survived another scare in the 11th minute when a Banbridge corner was only partially punched away by Ethan Carry, who then, along with Curtis Woods and Gerard Storey, thought they had prevented the ball from crossing the line. However, the linesman eventually waved his flag to indicate a goal and this time it was Distillery’s turn to have their protests waved away.
Before Distillery could recover from conceding the first goal they found themselves two down, some poor play saw Johnston’s side lose the ball in their own half and Patrick Shearer beat the offside trap to get on the end of a pass and finish past Carry.
After the second goal the home side did manage to get forward and win a number of set pieces but were unable to make these count, the closest opportunity to score being a Whiteway header from a left hand corner but a Banbridge player was able to clear the ball away.
It was looking like there would be few positives to take going into the half-time interval but then the Whites were thrown a lifeline when Angus was fouled inside the box and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Storey took on the responsibility and hammered the ball low and to Niall Brady’s right, the visiting goalkeeper guessed right but was unable to keep the spot kick out and the visitors advantage was halved on the stroke of half time.
Half Time: Lisburn Distillery 1-2 Banbridge Town
The home side started the second half brightly and thought they had a chance for an equaliser in the 52nd minute when Brady could not claim a cross into the box but it did not quite fall right for McNickle and eventually the danger was cleared.
Distillery fans would not have to wait much longer for the equaliser as just two minutes later a pass from midfield found Jack Berry in space in the right channel. He then played a perfectly weighted pass to McNickle, whose shot beat Brady but struck the inside of the post but the number nine followed up to tap the ball in on the line.
After the equaliser, the Whites were well on top for a period, with Storey shooting wide from 30 yards and McNickle sent an effort well over the bar from a corner, which Berry had done well to win. Berry and McNickle linked up again just past the hour mark but this time the ball just seemed to take a bobble at the wrong moment and the former’s shot grazed the wrong side of the netting.
Berry was now causing all sorts of problems out on the right for Banbridge and he fired another great cross into the box after 66 minutes, that found McNickle but his header towards goal was cleared by a well-placed defender.
There was a scare up the other end for Distillery a minute later when a cross from the left found a Banbridge player and with Carry beat it looked like he had a simple task of heading home but missed the target and in any case, the referee had blown to award the Whites a free kick.
Just when it looked like Banbridge might be starting to gain the upper hand again the Whites took the lead for the first time in the game with 77 minutes on the clock, and it was a goal that was certainly worth the wait. Berry again got the ball out in the right channel but this time cut infield and sent a curling effort out of reach of Brady and into the ‘keeper’s top right hand corner, a goal worthy of the recent signings performance.
Distillery managed to see out the rest of the game with Carry’s goal remaining untroubled, the closest Banbridge came to an equaliser was a long ranger effort that missed the target and in the end, the Whites players and fans could celebrate the first three points of 2024, hopefully the first of many.
Full Time: Lisburn Distillery 3-2 Banbridge Town
Lisburn Distillery; Carry, Lewis, Woods, Angus, Whiteway, Geddis, Berry, Grattan, McNickle, Storey, Tully
Lisburn Distillery substitutions; McConnellogue, Hoy, Brady, Devenny (for McNickle, 90 mins), McVarnock (for Berry, 90+2 mins), Sharkey, Newell (for Grattan, 71 mins)
Report by Cameron Moore (@cameron2604)
Picture gallery from this game can be found @ https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjBaqJE