Bangor take huge stride towards a top-flight return after victory over Danske Bank Premiership strugglers Warrenpoint
Bangor 2 - Warrenpoint 0
Bangor are within touching distance of returning to the top flight of the Irish League after a six-year absence.
The Seasiders claimed an impressive 2-0 victory over Warrenpoint Town in the first leg of the promotion/relegation play-off at a rain-soaked Clandeboye Park. A Stephen Moan own goal and an injury-time Paul McDowell close-range effort gave Belfast Telegraph Championship 1 side Bangor a huge advantage going into the second leg.
The two clubs will clash again at Milltown on Friday night with a place in the Danske Bank Premiership at stake. While top-flight side Warrenpoint started brightly, Bangor's win was ultimately well deserved.
Warrenpoint were almost handed an early gift in the seventh minute when Darren Gibbons dropped a Mark Hughes free-kick. John McGuigan reacted quickly, but his shot went well over the bar.
Town again came close in the 12th minute after Barry Walsh conceded possession in his own half. Stephen Hughes' shot was blocked by Walsh, who worked back to make amends for the error, but the ball landed at the feet of Daniel Hughes. The man linked with a summer move to Bolton Wanderers hit the post.
Bangor took the lead in the 29th minute after a well-worked move down the right flank. Andy Morrow, Walsh and Andy Hall all combined before Morrow picked up the ball again.
His low cross was turned into the back of the Warrenpoint net by the unfortunate Moan.
Bangor's goal might have come against the run of play, but they could have gone two goals ahead five minutes later. A long Hall pass put Ethan Boylan through on goal but Town goalkeeper Jonny Parr was quickly off his line.
Bangor had a golden opportunity to extend their lead inside the first minute of the second half but a Mark Cooling free-kick was headed past the post by an unmarked Dean Youle.
Youle had another chance in the 50th minute when he got onto the end of a Hall corner, but the defender side-footed wide.
Warrenpoint's first chance of the new half arrived in the 52nd minute when Daniel Hughes sent a 25-yard free-kick just over.
Town's next chance also came from a free-kick. Mark Hughes' dangerous 65th-minute effort was pushed over the bar by Gibbons. Bangor substitute McDowell should have scored in the 68th minute but shot wide.
Warrenpoint had a strong shout for a penalty from the resulting corner after a strong tackle by Colin Nixon on Conor McDonald, but referee Ian McNabb wasn't interested.
Bangor substitute McDowell should have scored in the 68th minute but wasted the effort.
The second goal eventually arrived in the 91st minute. Morrow slipped the ball along the line for Cooling, who cut the ball into the path of McDowell.
The striker couldn't miss, rolling the ball into the bottom corner from six yards.
Barry Gray's Warrenpoint will need to put in a huge effort on Friday night to keep their place in the Danske Bank Premiership.
BANGOR: Gibbons, Wray, Youle, Nixon, Pike, Hall, Walsh, Cooling, Long (Melly 82), Morrow, Boylan (McDowell 60).
Subs not used: Ferguson, Gardiner, McCallion.
WARRENPOINT TOWN: Parr, King, McVeigh, McDonald, M.Hughes, McGuigan (Devlin 78), Bagnall, Moan (Boyle 54), Smith (Frazer 57), S. Hughes, D. Hughes.
Subs not used: Cowan, Forsyth.
Man of the match: Andy Morrow
Match rating: 7/10
Referee: Ian McNabb