Armagh City 1 Banbridge Town 0
ARMAGH City continued their winning ways in dominant style on Saturday when they overcame a battling Banbridge Town at Holm Park.
The 1-0 win secures second spot in the Belfast Telegraph Championship Two for City who are now faced with four away fixtures as they bid for promotion.
Armagh’s goalscoring hero was striker Stephen Murray who also notched a double in midweek as the local side brushed aside the challenge of Glebe Rangers.
The Holm Park outfit dominated the opening half and should have gone in at the interval with a comfortable lead. But too many missed early chances put pressure on City who were made to fight all the way for victory after the break.
Murray had the first opportunity but he just failed to get his head to a ball crossed from the left by Shea McGerrigan.
Then, on the opposite flank, Gerard Grimley broke into the box and fired the ball across goal to no avail.
On 12 minutes City had another superb chance but Gavin Cusack’s header was flicked over the crossbar by agile Banbridge ‘keeper Nathan Hillen.
The visitors then mounted a rare attack and City ‘keeper Sean Morgan had to be at this brilliant best to finger-tip a rasping goalbound shot to safety.
This was immediatley followed by another dangerous City raid when Grimley just failed to touch home a low McGerrigan cross at the back-post when he was closed down by the impressive Hillen. A similar attack on 31 minutes also went abegging.
Just before the break Armagh spurned another great goalscoring opportunity when centre-backs Ultan Lennon and Dara Noonan made their presence felt after a corner-kick from the right.
Half-time: Armagh City 0 Banbridge Town 0.
Following the interval Banbridge showed a new lease of life and sprung forward on several occasions, prompted by their hard-working target-man Timmy Grant.
But the Armagh back-four soaked up the pressure and, as the match continued, the local side again got to grips with Town.
And, on the hour mark, they eventually reaped the reward for their efforts.
Grimley broke on the right and sent in a perfect cross which Murray ran onto, controlled and, as Hillen came out to close the big striker down, the City man calmly lifted the ball over his head into the empty net – a real stunner and worthy match-winner!
On 69 minutes Armagh lost Noonan with a knee injury but, fortunately, it is not serious and he should be available for selection at the weekend.
City were now pressing forward at this late stage and were unlucky not to add to their score when sub Paul Carville cut in from the left and fired a dipping 25-yard effort just inches over the crossbar.
In the end Armagh deserved the victory against a battling Banbridge who fought hard throughout the 90 minutes.
Several City players caught the eye in this encounter and certainly impressed former West Brom star Cyrille Regis who attended the match as a guest of the Town committee.
Now a football agent, he said afterwards, “Armagh were the better team overall and deserved to win the match”.
Later, in the clubrooms, the ‘Player-of-the-Month’ trophy was presented to Stephen Murray, while the ‘Reserve-Player-of-the-Month’ accolade went to Benny O’Hea, whose prize was collected on his behalf by Gareth Grimley.
Armagh City: Sean Morgan, Dale Montgomery, Ryan McGerrigan, Ultan Lennon, Dara Noonan (Johnny Walker on 69), Gavin Cusack (y/c), Gareth Grimley (Eamon Kelly on 85), Liam Cullen, Stephen Murray, Philip Donnelly, Shea McGerrigan (Paul Carville on 75). Subs DNP: Marc Davidson, Chris Maxwell.
Banbridge Town: Nathan Hillen, Matthew McCarten (Stephen O’Neill on 34), Paul Walsh, Stuart Thompson, Neil King, Barry Tumilty, Connor Downey (Adam Pedlow on 70), Kevin Henry (y/c), Timmy Grant, Chris Kingsberry (Ryan Gourly on 85), Chris McGrath. Sub DNP: Jason Gourly.
Ref: Mr Arnold Hunter.
City Dominant But Town Battle Hard
Armagh City 1 Banbridge Town 0