Armagh City 1-0 Banbridge Town
Armagh City successfully navigated a tricky Bob Radcliffe Cup quarter-final tie at Holm Park on Saturday, defeating Banbridge Town thanks to a first half goal by Jordan Bell.
City opened the game quickly, looking to stamp their authority and make up for an earlier defeat this season against the same opposition in the League Cup. The Eagles best chances in the opening period came primarily from set pieces, with Shea McGerrigan swinging in two dangerous deliveries, which Conor McAnallen should have done better with on one occasion.
A searching ball from right-back Gary Lawless put Shea Campbell through on goal, but the chance was snuffed out by the Town defence as the striker tried to get the ball out from his feet and get the shot away. Good work on the wing by Andrew Hoey allowed Lawless to cross to the back post but Stefan Lavery couldn’t control and the opportunity went abegging.
On the half hour mark it looked like City were certain to open their account, but somehow the Town goal remained intact. First, Campbell picked up the ball 25 yards from goal on the left hand side, and left Banbridge keeper Stephen Croft a spectator as he curled and superb effort the thumped back off the woodwork. The ball broke to Hoey who immediately fired in an effort of his own but could only find the side netting.
Three minutes later City’s pressure finally paid off, although in somewhat fortuitous circumstances. As an attack built up on the right wing once again, Jordan Bell shaped to cross only to see the ball fly over the stranded Croft and into the top corner to give City a deserve, if fortunate, lead.
The goal sparked the visitors onto the attack, forcing a series of set pieces. City keeper John Connolly had to be alert to acrobatically turn about a curling effort from Conor Downey and preserve the lead at the interval.
The second half brought fewer clear-cut chances as the game became bogged down in a midfield battle. The introduction of Ryan McGerrigan added a spark to the City side as he linked up well with Paul Carvill down the leftwing, but City failed to put the game out of reach despite further chances for Bell and Lavery.
Banbridge made a late effort to grab an equaliser as they committed plenty of men forward in the dying minutes, but City held on to reach the semi-finals of the cup, with the prize of a Boxing Day final now within grasp.
Marty Rice’s side are back in Championship 1 action next Saturday, 3 October, travelling to Dixon Park to take on Ballyclare Comrades, kick-off 3pm.
Armagh City: John Connolly, Gary Lawless, Paul Carvill, Luke Grimley, Conor McAnallen, Jordan Bell, Eamon Kelly, Andrew Hoey, Shea McGerrigan (Ryan McGerrigan), Shea Campbell (Liam Cullen), Stefan Lavery. Subs not used: Marty Havern, Dara Noonan.