Bangor 5th XI 0 vs 1 NICS 4th XI

On a mild but damp afternoon, Bangor 5s entertained NICS 4s, who had beaten league leaders, PSNI, the previous week.

The opening quarter was fairly even with both teams sharing possession but the visitors were the more dangerous in attack. A couple of penalty corners were also shared but without goals.

NICS look the lead when the visiting umpire awarded a dubious free against Bangor and the home team were caught on the hop, enabling the visitors to outnumber the home defence and score the opening goal. Bangor’s best chance fell to Wilson but his shot was weak and saved by the NICS keeper.

Bangor began the second half in better shape and had a lot of possession but lacked a cutting edge in the final third. NICS were dangerous on the counter attack and Kent was in superb form to prevent further goals. Squance made some telling interceptions at the back and Parker worked tirelessly in midfield.

The second half ended scoreless with Bangor disappointed not to turn better play into goals but also thankful foe heroic goalkeeping.

Final Score Bangor 0 NICS 1

Harlequins 3rd XI 2 vs 3 Bangor 4th XI

4s come back to win at Harlequins

In a familiar theme, Bangor started strongly with the midfield of Parker, Irvine and Hopkins neatly controlling the flow of the game and denying Quins early possession.

However Bangor lacked composure in the final 3rd of the pitch and could not convert their dominance into scoring chances. Harlequins grew in confidence as the half progressed and punished Bangor, first from a short corner and then a breakaway goal a small Bangor went into the half 2-0 down.

This was very similar to how the cup game between the sides has gone earlier in the year where Bangor were the better side in large parts of the game but had left Deramore losing 5-0!

However co-captains McMillan and Hopkins were determined this wasn’t happening this time and after some stern words and some positional changes, Bangor immediately looked much more threatening. With the influential Holley orchestrating matters on midfield, Bangor began to pepper the Quins goal It wasn’t long before the impressive Parker  slotted home and Bangor had their tails up.Coglin appeared from the back and got the 2nd soon after a d Bangor could sense the gave way theirs for the taking Young Jack Riordan, who has worked so well with Hart and Squance all afternoon, deservedly was the man who got the goal and Bangor held on for a great victory.

The 3 points propels up the table and continues the momentum gathered in recent weeks to ensure safety in the league and even push for promotion.

Thanks to Quins for an enjoyable match and thanks again to Chris Harte for umpiring.

Man of the Match: Ricky Parker

Annadale 2nd XI 2 vs 6 Bangor 2nd XI

Bangor Seconds provided one of their best performances of the season as they travelled to play Annadale Seconds and walloped them 6-2.

Last season away points were thin on the ground but Mark Lappin has his men more focused and organised this year.

The Seasiders played with discipline in defence and counter-attacked ruthlessly to tear apart their much younger opponents.

And it was the skipper Lappin who led the way. After just five minutes he turned at the top of the circle and fired an unstoppable reverse stick shot past the home goalkeeper.

But the majority of the first half followed a pattern. Annadale had the ball, Bangor worked hard to frustrate them. And in the final few minutes the sides traded goals.

Firstly, Annadale equalised when for once Bangor lost their defensive shape and Sam Moore in goal slipped. But within two minutes Bangor retained their lead. From their first penalty corner the ever dependable Adam Reading scored with the help of a deflection.

Bangor started the second period well but just couldn’t find the right final pass or accurate finish to score a third. And Annadale took advantage when they raided down the right and crossed the ball only to see it rebound into the goal off the hapless Adam Watson.

It was sink or swim time but Bangor responded magnificently to streak ahead of their more celebrated opposition.

The third goal came from Zach McKee, who scored from a tight angle after Simon Hunter had bullied the two centre backs to create the chance.

Just minutes later Reading scored again from his second penalty corner to give Bangor some daylight.

Bangor’s fourth goal epitomised their performance. The energetic Simon Cox, Chris Campbell and Hunter hounded the Annadale captain until he turned over possession. Campbell played in Hunter who drew the keeper to leave the midfielder an easy finish for the fifth goal.

Annadale still threatened and Moore made a couple of very impressive saves, James Trimble continued his fine form at left back and young Matthew Armstrong-Sanchez belied his years at centre back.

There was time for one more goal and again it came from a penalty corner. This time it was Andrew Creane who got the goal his all round display deserved, taking a touch, dummying the goalkeeper and flicking high into the net.

Bangor face Banbridge tonight (Thursday) as the scourge of rearranged games hits the fixture list. It will be another challenge but Lappin’s men are in good form and should fear no one if they are on their game.

Parkview 2 vs 0 Bangor 5th XI

Bangor travelled to Ballyclare to play Parkview 1s in a rainswept afternoon.

Parkview dominated the opening period with Bangor struggling to put any passing movements together.

Eventually Bangor started to get their act together but failed to put the home keeper under any pressure. Just when a Parkview attack was thwarted, a poor clearance went to a Parkview player at the edge of the circle resulting in a goal.

The second half was totally dominated by Bangor with numerous chances from circle penetration and penalty corners but they lacked the scoring cutting edge.

Another error led to a speculative scoop by a Parkview forward and was missed on the line by the last defender and the ball dropped into the Bangor goal.

Bangor continued to attack and Parkview were fortunate not to concede.

Final Score Parkview 2 Bangor 0

Bangor 4th XI 1 vs 1 Lisnagarvey 6th XI

Fresh from conquering the French Alps, Co-Captain Hopkins returned in an effort to lift the 4th XI out of their valley of despair to the dizzy heights of actually winning a match in 2017.

In a familiar theme, Bangor started strongly with the midfield of Ross, Irvine and Alfred neatly controlling the flow of the game and denying Garvey early possession.

In an unfamiliar development, Bangor actually made use of all that early possessions when Thompson pressed down the right flank and unlocked the Garvey defence before a lovely ball into the circle saw Mark Squance end his goal-scoring drought with a cool finish into the back of the net: 1-0 Bangor.

Unfortunately, this awoke a solid Garvey side who then began to enjoy more of the ball and to press forward, with the ageing Watson enjoying too much time and space to bring the ball out of the Garvey defence.  This led to sustained pressure upon the Bangor goal and it required the cat-like reactions of Graeme “the Flash” Patterson to save the ball off the line from a drag-flicked penalty quarter.  However, eventually the dam broke and a Garvey penalty corner yielded what was probably a deserved equalizer: 1-1.

Bangor, as ever, persevered and the ebb and flow of the match saw Bangor mix solid play with sloppy execution, as has often been the story this season.  Too often Garvey players were left to move forward unopposed and unmarked, forcing Coghlin and Patterson to make vital late tackles to protect Wilkinson’s goal.  Towards the end of the match Bangor threatened the Garvey circle on a number of occasions but it was Garvey who finished the stronger, pushing for a late winner, and at the final whistle a draw was probably the fair result despite Bangor having to feel that they had every opportunity to win this match, had the execution matched the ambition of their play for a full 70 minutes.

Thanks to Garvey for an enjoyable match and thanks again to Jon Scott for umpiring.

Man of the Match: Callum Thompson

Team:  Wilkinson, Patterson, McMillan, Hopkins, Coghlin, Thompson, Irvine, Alfred, Ross, Ferguson, Harte, Squance, Moore.

Banbridge 3rd XI 4-0 Bangor 3rd XI

Thirds Second Best

Bangor Thirds latest Junior League Two fixture saw Gareth Stranaghans’ squad make the trip to Havelock Park, Banbridge last Friday night to take on the locals’ third string.

Whilst a competitive contest ensued, the thirds were simply second best on the night and suffered a humiliating 4-0 loss to their much superior opponents.

The Bangor side started brightly and did press the home backline, but lacked any cutting edge in the final third to even test the Banbridge goalkeeper.  As the half wore on though passes started to go astray, players were being caught in possession and Banbridge were slowly gaining control of the game.  They made sure of a reward from this domination, and scored twice before the half time interval.  With both goals Bangor had only themselves to blame, needlessly losing the ball in their own half and Banbridge were able to take full advantage.  Goalkeeper Ross Miller did make a couple of fine stops to keep his side within touching distance.  Half time, 2-0.

The thirds rallied again at the start of the second half, and did indeed cause the home side problems in an effort to claw back at least one goal.  Chances were created, the best of which fell to schoolboys Patrick Boyd and Isaac Hart after some flowing passing moves, but unfortunately neither were able to get that final touch and force home.  When the home side made it 3-0 just 10 minutes from time that was effectively it, and despite all their best efforts from the thirds in this second half they were undone again minutes from the end, a clinical finish from the Banbridge forward.  Overall a disappointing performance on the night, and certainly room for both individual and team improvements next time out.

Man of the Match for the Bangor team was Jack Riordan.  Many thanks to Scott Parker for umpiring.

Team: R.Miller, G.Stranaghan (c), J Riordan, A.Creane, M.Armstrong-Sanchez, C.Alfred, P.Boyd, D.Holley, Ri.Parker, S.Robinson. I.Hart, D.Edge.

Lisnagarvey 3rd XI 0 vs 3 Bangor 2nd XI

A committed all-round performance from Bangor Seconds ensured a 3-0 win over Lisnagarvey Thirds in Hillsborough on Saturday.

It’s never easy to win at Lisnagarvey so captain Mark Lappin was happy to bring home three points.

After an up and down start to 2017 the Seconds will be hopeful that they can finish the season strongly and continue to move up Junior League One.

The three goals were impressive but the clean sheet more so as Lappin asked his team to halt the steady stream of goals conceded that has curbed their performance since Christmas.

Despite the dominant scoreline at the final whistle the first half was evenly balanced. Lisnagarvey started the better but Bangor grew into the game and finished the half the stronger.

And chances were created at both ends. Sam Moore had to be alert from a number of penalty corners and at the other end Lappin had a glorious chance to open the scoring but blazed well wide with the goalkeeper beaten.

Bangor took the lead with the final act of the first half. A slick counter attack involving Adam Reading, Stephen McLean and Greg Shevlin won a penalty corner and from the set-piece James Mottashaw fired an unstoppable shot into the top right corner of the net.

Lisnagarvey may have felt it unfair to be a goal down at half-time but they could have no complaints as Bangor pulled away from them in the second period. It was two Simon Hunter goals in five minutes that sealed the win for Bangor.

The first came after good work from McLean, Hunter cutting in from the left and sliding the ball past the Lisnagarvey goalkeeper at the near post. The second, just minutes later, when Lappin surged forward from midfield and crossed for the centre forward to dive and deflect home from the middle of the circle.

Both sides still had chances and Bangor went close through the excellent Andrew Creane and Reading. But they had to be content with a 3-0 win as the game petered out in the closing minutes.

This week the Seconds host Belfast Harlequins in the McClements Cup. Harlequins play in Junior Two but are playing well and Lappin’s men will need to be on their mettle to ensure they are not the victims of a cup upset.

Armagh 1 vs 11 Bangor

Bangor put 11 past Armagh to continue push for league success.

Having successfully gained a top 4 finish before the league split on Thursday night Bangor made the long trip to Armagh knowing momentum was crucial for the remaining half of the season.

Bangor started like a good side should in this fixture with them gaining the opening goal in the first few minutes through McKee following great work down the right-hand side by McClune and McComb. Bangor quickly doubled their lead a few minutes later with Burgess firing low to the keepers left hand side from the short corner. Bangor then made it 3-0 within the first 7 minutes with a corner variation to McClune saw him fire it low past the keeper. Within the first 10 minutes Burgess finished the fixtured with a low flick down to the keepers left again to make it 4-0 and inevitable over.

However, Armagh did respond breaking forward and winning their first short corner. The initial shot from Seay was well saved however the Armagh player was on hand to knock in the rebound. The remainder of the first half was relatively quiet compared to the first 10 minutes, Bangor maintained possession of the ball for long spells creating good chances but not being able to find the back of the net. Bangor scored a 5th just on the stroke of half time, when Burgess skipped past several Armagh players to find McKee in the middle of the circle unmarked and he fired it in to make it 5-1.

Half Time: Armagh 1 – 5 Bangor

The 2nd half started slower than the 1s with Bangor keeping much of the possession and again creating good chances but the Armagh keeper was on hand to deny chances created. The first goal of the half came through Riordan, who was on hand to knock in the rebound from Burgess’ shot from the short corner. Moments later Riordan had his 2nd of the match through some excellent individual play, cutting in from the left-hand side with the ball and hammering the ball against the backboard to make it 7-1. Riordan then had his hat trick within the space of a few minutes when Burgess stole the ball in midfield, playing a one-two with McClune then found McComb on the right-hand side who squared the ball back to Riordan to score an excellent team goal.

McClune added a 9th towards the end after a long ball found him 1v1 with the keeper and the experienced forward moved it around him and slotted the ball into the net. Burgess then got his hat trick from another short corner this time firing the ball high to the keepers left hand side. Riordan grabbed a 4th shortly before the end again another excellent team goal with the ball being transferred from left to right and Burgess found Riordan who drove into the circle and slipped it between the keepers’ leg to seal an impressive 11-1 victory for the visitors.

Full Time: Armagh 1 – 11 Bangor

Scorers: McKee (2), McClune (2), Burgess (3), Riordan (4)

Saintfield 1 v 0 Bangor 4th XI

Fourths lose out a Saintfield

Bangor’s miserable start to 2017 continued on Saturday as they lost out to old nemesis Saintfield on Saturday by one goal to nil.

Bangor arrived to see a gravel pitch barely playable, ruined by a mixture of poor weather and Saintfield’s couch to 5k runners, with some of Bangor younger players not really sure what to make of it all.

The first half started well for Bangor with the team belying the condition of the pitch and passing the ball through midfield with the ball not sticking up front. Saintfield, more used to playing on the pitch, had a different approach, rather reminiscent of the infamous long ball tactic Jack Charlton’s Republic of Ireland used to adopt. Bangor’s defence were constantly on their guard and put on some strong work, especially from the gravel specialist Duncan Morris who handled the dangerous Walker fantastically well all afternoon.

On the stroke of half time however Walker broke free for the first and only time in the afternoon and after a goal mouth scramble, Saintfield went a goal up.

After some strong words from Bangor older brigade at half time, Bangor dealt with the pitch in a much more positive fashion in the second half and had several chances that on another day could have levelled or indeed won the game. Credit is to be given to youngsters Hart, Squance , Ross, Jeffers who all fought well all afternoon despite having little or no experience playing on the gravel.

However it wasn’t to be and co-captain McMillan had to make the dreaded phone call to fellow captain Peter ‘the eagle’ Hopkins who had followed the game intently from the slopes of Chamonix.

The 4ths now enter a critical part of their season, with half of their games left, and only 8 points separating 2nd and bottom place in the league , they need to urgently get back to the form they showed before Christmas.

Man of the match Duncan Morris

Raphoe 2nd XI 3-2 Bangor 3rd XI

Thirds Beaten in Donegal​​​​​

 

Bangor Thirds made the long journey to County Donegal last Saturday afternoon to take on Raphoe Seconds in their latest Junior League Two fixture.

A highly competitive contest ensued, but it was the home side who claimed all 3 points following a close 3-2 victory.

From the outset the Raphoe team dominated proceedings.  Time and again they were getting to the ball first and penetrating the Bangor defence, and on the flip side when the Thirds did gain possession of the ball it was squandered much too easily with a series of misplaced passes.  Within 10 minutes of the start Raphoe had taken the lead, a through ball from midfield found a willing runner in a white shirt, and he slotted home past a wrong footed Ross Miller in the Bangor goal.  The lead was soon doubled midway through the half, and again it was a soft one to concede from the Thirds’ point a view, a home forward going unchallenged and scoring from an acute angle.  The thirds did see plenty of the ball in the opening half, but lacked any real penetration at the business end, a sole short corner award all they had to show for their endeavours.  Half time, 2-0.

In their defence one thing Gareth Stranaghans’ side cannot be accused of this season is ever giving in.  Stranaghan rallied his troops during the interval, challenging them to get the next goal to put them right back in the game.  After an early scare in the opening minutes of the second half, in general the Thirds dominated for large periods and did indeed force their way back into the game when they pulled it back to 2-1.  And what a beautifully crafted goal it was too.  Stevie Robinson picked up the ball in the Raphoe half and drove forward, weighted a delightful through ball to schoolboy Patrick Boyd and when he squared to his strike partner Stranaghan, the captain had the simplest of tasks to find the net.  The Thirds continued to increase in confidence, and were now creating numerous problems for the Raphoe defence.  Jack Riordan was tireless in his running across the front, whilst Andy Hamilton was tenacious just behind him and the catalyst for many of the Bangor attacks.  Stranaghan ought to have made it 2-2 but fluffed his lines at a penalty corner, whilst a David Stewart high effort was tipped over by the home custodian.  Another well orchestrated attack resulted in a Matthew Armstrong-Sanchez effort slipping agonisingly inches wide of the post.  In defence the Thirds looked more assured, with Calvin Alfred impressive in this second period as he read the danger signs, intercepted and released the ball to a yellow shirt with such simplicity time and time again.  However, the Thirds were then hit with a sucker punch with just 10 minutes to play, a Raphoe counter attack leaving the defence exposed and when Miller advanced the Raphoe forward was able to direct it past him and into the net.  Minutes later the Thirds again reduced the deficit, Andy Hamilton firing home from a short corner, but it was all too late.  The homes side comfortably held on for the victory as time just ran out for the battling Bangor side.  Final score, 3-2.

Many thanks to Desi Mitchell for transporting the team there and back, and for his support on the day.

Man of the Match for the Bangor team was Andy Hamilton.

Team: R.Miller, G.Stranaghan (c), D.Stewart, R.Garland, J Riordan, A.Hamilton, M.Armstrong-Sanchez, C.Alfred, P.Boyd, M.Coughlin, Ri.Parker, S.Robinson.

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