Loughgall fell to an unexpected 3 – 2 loss at the hands of bottom club Banbridge Town in grim weather conditions at Crystal Park.
Banbridge acquitted themselves well during the first period limited a dominant Loughgall to long-range efforts – both their best two chances came from set-pieces. Dale Malone saw his low free-kick expertly pushed past the post by ‘keeper Michael McAllister on 29 minutes, and 8 minutes later Marty Verner managed to strike his free-kick effort off the upright with McAllister beaten.
It was Verner who headed the Villagers into the lead ten minutes into the second half; goalkeeper Marc Robinson launched a long free-kick upfield which Malone rose highest to win the initial header allowing Verner to cleverly loop his header over the outrushing McAllister.
The visitors had two good chances to extend their advantage moments after; firstly the ball cannoned off Verner and somehow flew over the crossbar from a matter of yards after good build-up play by Adam Pedlow. Verner was then denied again, this time when ‘keeper McAllister saved low at hit feet after Stephen Doyle’s inside pass.
The Villagers were made to pay for these missed opportunities as Town’s fortunes were turned around by the impressive Conor Downey and Chris McGrath. On the hour mark Aaron Gallagher whipped in a dangerous delivery from the right flank that central striker Downey guided home from inside the penalty area. 11 minutes later McGrath fired home an unstoppable drive from 25 yards after a poor clearance.
On 74 minutes Loughgall were denied an equaliser as substitute Paul Keenan volleyed Malone’s corner delivery off the underside of the crossbar and against the unaware goalkeeper McAllister to safety.
Then Stephen Jones extended Banbridge’s advantage with 6 minutes remaining as he nodded home Chris Kingsberry’s cross. Loughgall pulled a goal back 3 minutes later to set up a nervy finale as Verner netted his 10th goal of the season with a sliding finish.
Loughgall: Robinson, Hall, Brady, King, Hull, Doyle (Keenan 59m), Hawthorne, Ferguson, Pedlow (Teggart 87m), Verner, Malone. Unused subs: Stewart, Emerson, Blevins.
Banbridge Town: McAllister, Wilson, Robb, Fanning, Nelson, McGrath, Jones, McCartan, Downey, Kingsberry, Gallagher. Unused subs: McBurney, McGarry, Martin, Haughey, Ferguson.
Referee: Evan Boyce