Lisnagarvey bounced back from their defeat by Monkstown with a gritty performance at Havelock Park which gave them a win by 2 goals to 1 over Banbridge.
Having lost last weekend, Garvey knew they had to produce a result against their old rivals and they did so with a lot of determination and discipline.
They began the match, still without skipper Jonny Bell and also missing James Lorimer, who was injured in training during the week.
Richard Arneill moved into the defence alongside Paul Gleghorne, but it was Ryan Getty who came to the Garvey rescue in the 2nd minute with a superb clearance when under extreme pressure.
At the other end, Andy Forrest made a break through the Banbridge defence but his reverse shot went wide of the upright and his effort was one of very few as both teams seemed to cancel out the other in the middle of the pitch during the first quarter.
Banbridge did force their first penalty corner in the 14th minute but Garvey keeper John Tormey made a fine save from Stephen Dowds and a minute later the visitors took the lead.
It came from their opening set piece earned by Neil Glassey; a switch from Timmy Cockram saw the ball fall to Paul Gleghorne who made no mistake from 10 metres.
Garvey took their slender advantage into the second quarter and remained solid in defence while Glassey, Sean Murray and Timmy Cockram created a great chance in the 19th minute but no shot resulted.
The home side still dogged in mid field were short of ideas near the Garvey circle but they did earn a second penalty corner in the 26th minute; again Tormey was more than equal to the Dowd’s shot saving with his hand.
Seconds later, Banbridge’s keeper Gareth Lennox was forced to save from Andy Williamson while Johnny McKee shot over the bar in the final minute of the first half.
Garvey had introduced captain Jonny Bell after his long lay-off but he immediately fitted into the already solid defence and his team were rewarded with a second goal in the 37th minute.
A quick break down the right wing saw Daniel Buser get a shot in which canonned off keeper Lennox’s helmet and in trying to clear the high ball Peter Brown could only knock the ball into his own net.
This goal, if somewhat fortunate, gave Garvey the boost they needed to see them through the match and surprisingly, Banbridge did not react to the situation in a manner to be expected.
They did, however, force a 3rd penalty corner in the 42nd minute but again Tormey made a save from the low drag flick by Dowds and another threat was averted.
Garvey responded a minute later with their 3rd set piece but Andy Williamson’s effort was also unsuccessful; Lennox making a routine save.
Williamson gave himself a half chance in the last seconds of the third quarter but his shot from the left went wide and Garvey maintained their 2-0 lead going into the final quarter.
Timmy Cockram had a great chance to seal the game in the 49th minute but again Lennox was in the right place to save the shot and a minute later Banbridge, after a short period of pressure scored the goal they so badly needed to get back into the match.
It came from Johnny McKee who worked his way across the pitch, swivelled and shot past Tormey through a crowded circle leaving Garvey with 10 minutes to hold onto their single goal advantage.
Owen Magee had a great run on the left but his shot from a very narrow angle went past the post while Sean Murray replied with the run of the game which ended with Garvey’s 4th penalty corner in the 54th minute.
Another switch was almost wasted but Steven Arbuthnot did get in a shot which went past the upright.
Paul Gleghorne received a green card with just five minutes remaining.
However, the defence, marshalled by the superb Jonny Bell were able to hold firm, even surviving a three on one situation by Banbridge in the dying seconds of the nail biting encounter.
This victory, hard fought but totally deserved, corrects the ground lost after the Monkstown defeat with the top three IH.L. contenders, Garvey, Banbridge and Monkstown all on six points.
However, favourites, Monkstown did not play last week end as they were involved in the E.H.L. IN Germany.
The I.H.L. now takes a two week break before Garvey round four of the league against Cork Church of Ireland at Gulladuff on Saturday 7th November.
In between however, the first round of the Irish Senior Cup is on the 31st October when Garvey play N.I.C.S at Comber Road.