European Hockey League: Banbridge beat Saint Germain in opener

Jonny McKee put Banbridge ahead against Saint Germain at Havelock Park
Jonny McKee put Banbridge ahead against Saint Germain at Havelock Park

Banbridge impressed in beating Saint Germain 2-0 before a crowd of over 2,500 at Havelock Park in their first match of the European Hockey League.

Bann got off to a great start with Jonny McKee going close on two occasions before breaking the deadlock.

The hosts went 2-0 ahead before half-time when Dane Ward was on hand to deflect in a Fraser Mills shot.

Banbridge need a draw on Sunday against Royal Leopold to reach the KO16 phase of the competition for the first time.

McKee was under pressure but showed enough strength to hold off the challenge of the Saint Germain defender and goalkeeper to slot the ball into the goal.

Led by the impressive Matthew Bell, the home side defended their circle resolutely throughout and were always dangerous on the counter attack.

Bann strike again

In the final minute of the first half they doubled their advantage when Mills, on the reverse stick, fired low and hard towards the far corner of the French side's goal and Dane Ward was on hand to deflect the ball in.

The second half saw Saint Germain fight back, making numerous good chances with Martin Genestet hitting the post while Bann goalkeeper Gareth Lennox kept out three corners in a row including one that he saved with his head.

The result eliminated Saint Germain and leaves a winner takes all battle between Banbridge and Belgian team Royal Leopold.

Defending champions Kampong from the Netherlands, with Irish international goalkeeper Davy Harte in their ranks, beat English side Holcombe 2-1 and will need only a draw with Poznan on Sunday to make it through.

Holcombe, who include local GB international Iain Lewers, beat the Polish side 8-1 on Friday.

The other games on Sunday see Scottish club Kelburne face Atletic Terrassa from Spain while Hamburg play Cardiff, with the winners of both games progressing in the competition.