Scates wants Bangor's win over Shankill to kick-start league momentum
Bangor manager Garth Scates believes progress in the Intermediate Cup can provide the platform his side need to finish their league campaign on a high.
He was speaking after the Clandeboye Road club’s 5-1 victory over amateurs Shankill United – a fixture that could well have provided a banana skin for them, but they passed this latest test with flying colours.
Indeed, supporters of the Seasiders may well have had some lingering memories of Shankill’s penalty shootout win over their side in the 2010 Steel & Sons Cup, but there were was to be no nerve-jangling finale for them on this occasion.
Putting the victory into context, Scates said: “It was a good, professional job. We have been pushing with that sort of performance in our past few games – we were unlucky to come away with nothing against Ards on Boxing Day, and we shouldn’t have gone out of the Irish Cup against Lurgan Celtic.
“We have to keep a good cup run going now for our momentum. That was one of the problems at the start of the season – it got too stop-start when we went out of the Steel & Sons Cup and we were having weekends without a game.
“The thing that pleased me most was getting the five goals. Now we have to see what we can do against Annagh in the league next weekend. ”
The home side looked bright from the off, with Stephen Curry forcing a fine parried save from Craig Kennedy after just two minutes, and the keeper was alert to quickly recover and push the ball further again beyond the range of the advancing Barry Walsh.
At the other end, Luke Briers could well have given the visitors the initiative, but they were denied only by the crossbar from his dipping 20-yard free kick.
Instead, Bangor were a goal to the good by the 10th minute. Luke Braiden’s foul on Brian Dickson inside the area gave Mark Cooling the opportunity to score from the spot, which he duly seized with minimum fuss.
Soon after this, Shankill’s Daryll Kernohan almost found Thomas Morrison with a cross into the box, but Darren Gibbons pounced off his line to smother the ball.
Andy Long could well have stretched Bangor’s lead on the half hour mark, but contrived to head over from eight yards out, despite having been unmarked when Curry’s cross came in.
Both sides had chances in the lead-up to half time – Curtis Black striking into the side-netting and just over the bar, both from forward passes by Kernohan, while a blasted effort from the edge of the area and half-cross/half-shot from Paul McDowell were both tipped to safety by Kennedy.
However, the Shankill shot-stopper couldn’t deny McDowell from a third attempt on the stroke of half time, as he collected the ball, took it around Braiden White and drilled into the net from close range.
Persistence paid off for Black, too, as three minutes on the other side of the break, he threaded a neat finish inside the far post to give his team-mates some hope of recovery.
This, however, was as good as it got for Shankill, as two Bangor strikes in a three-minute spell put paid to any comeback aspirations. Bangor’s third of the match arrived on 60 minutes, courtesy of a rasping effort from Curry, while their fourth was a moment of real quality, which saw Gerard McMillan skip several challenges before sliding the ball into the bottom right corner.
It had, by no means, been a hot-headed affair, yet Braiden’s 69th minute foul on McMillan and Brett Widdowson’s on Kernohan a minute later saw both pick up their second yellow cards, and as a result, both teams reduced to 10 men for the remainder.
There was just one real moment of note left in the game – a stunning 25-yard free kick from Cooling in the 74th minute, which completed the scoring for the hosts.
Yet despite the score-line, Shankill manager Robert Robinson – whose side lie fourth in the Amateur League Premier Division – remained upbeat.
He said: “There are positives. We have come to a Championship One side with four players out injured, and the young players that have come in to replace them have done themselves proud.
“We weren’t expected to get anything today, and the experience can only help us moving forward. At the end of the day, we are only a wee club doing our best to push on, so we will see where the rest of the season takes us.”
MAN OF THE MATCH: Stephen Curry (Bangor). Caught the eye with a very positive contribution.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Gerard McMillan’s 62nd minute goal was a great example of individual skill, both in build-up and finish.
SAVE OF THE MATCH: Craig Kennedy’s second minute save from Curry, and the tidy-up save that followed, showed he was alert from the start.
BLOOPER OF THE MATCH: Andy Long’s header over the target from eight yards should have tested the keeper at least.
Darren Gibbons: Did well when called into action. 8
Dean Youle: A solid contribution. 7
Kris Pike: Made some good bursting runs down the left. 8
Tommy Wray: Had a good aerial presence. 7
Brett Widdowson: Youthful exuberance a factor in his dismissal. 6
Aidan Watson: Can be happy enough with his display. 7
Stephen Curry: Plenty of involvement in the final third for Bangor. 9
Mark Cooling: Showed his class from set pieces. 9
Barry Walsh: Good movement on and off the ball. 8
Paul McDowell: Good attitude and application. 8
Andy Long: Gave Shankill’s defence a fair bit to think about. 7
Gerard McMillan: On for Watson, 52
Gareth Beattie: On for Curry, 69
Jordan Lucas: On for Pike, 69
Chris Johns: Not used
Craig Kennedy: Don’t let the score-line fool you… a fine display. 7
Luke Braiden: Tenacious and determined, but ultimately red-carded. 6
George Douglas: Put in a shift. 7
Braiden White: Timed most challenges well. 7
Ryan McAuley: Beaten the ball on a few occasions. 6
Thomas Morrison: A decent showing. 7
Daryll Kernohan: Passing was a big asset to his team-mates. 8
Edward Williamson: Strong and physical. 7
Luke Briers: Didn’t get many chances. 6
Curtis Black: Shankill’s greatest attacking threat – deserved his goal. 8
Brian Dickson: A reasonably quiet game. 6
Stuart Conlin: On for Dickson, 58
Alfie Gilmore: On for Morrison, 69
Marc Young: On for White, 81
Craig Sloan: Not used
Jason Bell: Not used