Celtic made the trip to Banbridge last Saturday and will be disappointed to have dropped points cutting the lead to one point at the top of although they have three games in hand over the chasing pack.
Early Town pressure saw Ryan Evans shoot wide and Aaron Haire who looked lively throughout forced Croft into a good save low down at his near post in a game that was feisty with a few rash challenges going unpunished by the referee.
Declan Mcveigh then found Raymond Fitzpatrick with a free which drew a save from Croft while several minutes later McVeigh was called into action at the other end when he made a fine clearance from Evans cross. Shortly after this McCorry was forced to leave his area to avert any danger from a breakaway and Towns Taggert shot wide from a corner. Leading up to the half time break Chris Lavery had a run and cross forcing another save from Croft followed by a Dale Malone 25 yard free kick which Croft did well to keep out. A couple of minutes from the half time whistle Town’s McCann shot wide from close in.
Just after the restart Chris Lavery had a shot tipped over the bar and the Hoops exerted a fair bit of pressure with a series of raking crosses putting Town under pressure.
Josh Barton replaced Rogers on 56 minutes and soon after Haire appeared to be pushed by a defender in the penalty area but the referee awarded a free out and booked the Hoops front man for simulation to the displeasure of the away support and bench.
On the hour mark Banbridge applied pressure and both Adam Rodgers and John Cochrane made goal line clearances from shots by Gourley and Taggert in a couple of heart-stoppng minutes for the Hoops. Town now had the bit between their teeth and a free kick from Wilson forced McCorry into a great save. The action was non-stop with play swinging from end to end with Haire forcing a save from Croft. Celtic then brought on Niall Lavery for Daniel Ryan while Town replaced Evans with Conor Downey. Niall Lavery found Chris Lavery with a long pass but the shot was put wide and a moment later Malone was also wide with an effort.
Town had shots by Ferguson and Downey go wide and in the 83rd minute McVeigh found A Rodgers in the box and his shot saw Croft divert for a corner while minutes later Malone crossed for Haire whose header was saved.
On 88 minutes Banbridge thought they had taken the points but McVeigh popped up to clear the goalbound effort off the line and right on the whistle Chris Lavery shot over after a run.
Time was blown for a scoreless but none the less action packed game with Celtic still maintaining their unbeaten away record though they haven’t played as well as they can in the last several games and a return to form is needed if the ambition for promotion is to be realised.
Celtic’s McLeans Man of the Match was awarded to Aaron Haire.
This week Celtic are home to Coagh Utd with kick-off at 3.00pm.
The Hoops youth team played Hillsborough Boys away in the Decor Trophy and two goals from Caolan Lavery and one from Ruari McCann sealed a 3-0 victory putting them into the next round.