A Stephen Doyle brace secured three much-needed points for Loughgall as they looked to forget their Boxing Day heartache by seeing off lowly Banbridge Town. Remarkably the Villagers had to compete without goalkeeper Marc Robinson for 79 minutes as Steven Herron took the gloves for Robinson, who injured himself in the warm-up.
Boss Colin Malone made two changes to the starting line-up with Alain Emerson and John Guy coming in for Mark Teggart and Marty Verner, who has left the club to sign for H&W Welders.
The hosts had two good chances to break the deadlock in the opening stages; firstly Doyle saw his 15-yard effort deflected narrowly past the post to save a certain goal, and then both John Guy and Dale Malone were denied by the good reactions of Town ‘keeper Michael McAllister.
Striker Ryan Cree came closest for Banbridge Town when he collected a pass and hit a first-time shot that crept wide on 19 minutes.
The best chance of the first period landed literally on Alain Emerson’s head, however he couldn’t keep his free header on target after 30 minutes.
Loughgall’s relentless pressure resulted in the opening goal just after the hour mark when Malone slipped a pass into Doyle’s path and the forward smartly rounded ‘keeper McAllister before sidefooting home into an empty net.
Doyle was denied a second just two minutes later when an excellent attacking interchange between Malone and left-back Jeff Brady allowed the latter to find Doyle who saw his close-range effort well saved.
On 89 minutes Doyle, on the right flank, played in a deep cross that was met by John Guy however the frontman’s powerful header was tipped over the crossbar by McAllister.
The second goal came in stoppage time as Town defender Neil Watson was adjudged to have handled Doyle’s cross, Doyle stepped up to fire low into the bottom corner.
Loughgall: Robinson (Herron 11m), Hall, Brady, Stewart, King, Malone (Flanaghan 89m), Hawthorne, Ferguson, Emerson (Willis 67m), Doyle, Guy. Unused subs: Hull, Teggart.
Banbridge Town: McAllister, Jones, Robb, Fanning, Watson, McGrath, Wilson, McCartan, Cree (Cobb 50m), Gardiner (Ferguson 73m), Downey. Unused subs: Martin, Murray.