Lisnagarvey maintained the seven point lead at the top of the EYHL on Saturday when they defeated Banbridge by the rather flattering score of 4-0 at Comber Road.
The match was yet another high powered encounter which saw Garvey dominate the early part but later Banbridge grew in stature and put their old rivals under severe pressure later in the game.
Richard Arneill was first to show his talent in the 5th minute with a special piece of skill while Banbridge were created the opening chance of the game in the 7th minute.
Andy Williamson replied for the home side with a reverse shot which went wide of the mark but in the 10th minute his team grabbed the lead.
It was Mickey Watt who started the move which then saw Neil Glassey cross for Williamson to slot the ball home.
Banbridge showed intent in the last seconds of the first quarter with a chance which was well managed by the well organised defence marshalled by Jonny Bell and Paul Gleghorne and the score remained 1-0 after 15 minutes.
Neil Glassey seemed to have scored a second goal in the 18th minute but his shot was deemed to struck outside the circle while in the 20th minute Sean Murray linked up with Daniel Buser who shot wide of the post.
Garvey found the net again in the 22nd minute when after good work by Watt and Buser, Garvey were awarded their first penalty corner.
Timmy Cockram obliged with a shot which went under the legs of the 17 year old Banbridge goalkeeper Luke Roleston, standing in for the injured Gareth Lennox.
Banbridge struck back almost instantly with a set piece of their own in the 23rd minute and were unlucky when Eugene Magee’s drag flick rocketed off the cross bar with Garvey keeper John Tormey beaten by the pace of the shot.
Johnny McKee had a great dribble along the Garvey bye-line but no Banbridge forward on hand to grab the open chance to get back into the game and Magee also came close when his shot was superbly saved by Tormey showing quick reflexes in the process and the first half ended with Banbridge’s second penalty corner which was deflected by Daniel Buser for a long corner leaving Garvey still ahead by 2 goals to nil.
Neil Glassey shot wide on his reverse side in the 31st minute but the same player was robbed in midfield leading to Banbridge forcing their 3rd penalty corner, but again ace drag flicker Stephen Dowds was unable to beat Tormey who made a straight forward save.
Garvey, at this point seemed to retreat into the half allowing Bann to form attack after attack but they held firm with Bell, Gleghorne, James Lorimer and Steven Arbuthnot being sound in defence as the third quarter was completed with Garvey still holding on to their two goal advantage but only due to some great defending.
During the last 15 minute period, Bann forced two more set pieces but both Dowds and Magee were again repelled especially by another great save by John Tormey in the 50th minute and a 6th corner was blocked by runner out Andy Williamson to deny Bann another chance to get back into the match.
With all the visitor’s pressure and commitment to attack, Garvey took advantage of the gaps at the back of the Bann defence and they scored the vital third goal in the 54th minute.
Timmy Cockram found acres of space in the middle of the pitch and he created a ‘one on one’ situation with keeper Roleston; his shot was well saved but Daniel Buser, following up, swept the loose ball into the empty net.
The icing on the Garvey cake came in the 58th minute when they added their fourth goal; Mickey Watt totally stripped the Bann defence down the right wing and his inch perfect pass was guided into the net by the ever alert Daniel Buser.
A four nil margin was hardly a true reflection of the 60 minutes of play but Bann were unable to take their numerous chances including six penalty corners while Garvey were quite ruthless in their finishing giving them another fine win, their 9th in succession keeping their seven point lead over closest rivals Monkstown who defeated Pembroke by 3 goals to nil in Dublin.
The intensity of the season continues with back to back games against Three Rock Rovers.
The first is on Saturday at Grange Road in the 12th round of the EYHL. The following, week Garvey entertain Rovers to Comber Road for the semi-final of the Irish Senior Cup.
Both matches are vital to Garvey’s season. They have the ‘upper hand’ on Rovers having already beaten them 4-0 in the IHL back in December at Comber Road but Garvey must keep focusing match by match if they are to turn a promising season into a highly successful one.
The game at Grange Road is at 3.00p.m.