THE Wingmakers sealed European qualification for the first time in their history with a 2-0 victory over Bangor City at the Hollingsworth Group Stadium.
Airbus secured a rare win against the visitors and broke their jinx of never winning a live televised game in the process.
The opening stages were cagey which was understandable given what was at stake, a physical battle developing between two strong sides. Neither side created much in the final third in first 20 minutes as they both cancelled each other out. Set-pieces looked the likeliest way of breaking the deadlock early on.
On 26 minutes the Wingmakers took the lead with the best move of the game so far – Chris Budrys getting to the byline and cutting the ball back for Wayne Riley to find the far corner with a low finish from 6 yards. It was exactly what the game needed and would be a real test for Bangor.
Les Davies earned a booking on 36 minutes for a coming together with Glenn Rule who had helped keep the big Bangor forward quiet so far. At the other end Ryan Wade was causing havoc for the Bangor defence with Airbus the more creative side in this tight encounter.
Half-time arrived with the Wingmakers still deservedly in front and Bangor really needing to open the game up if they were to beat Airbus to the runners-up spot in the league this season. They made a double change at the break with Peter Hoy and Sion Edwards being replaced by Gary O’Toole and Robbie Booth respectively.
Wayne Riley earned a booking for dissent on 49 minutes but Airbus were still relatively untroubled by the visitors. On 56 minutes Ian Kearney headed over from a Tom Field free-kick as the Wingmakers continued to assert a grip on the game.
On 59 minutes Wingmakers midfielder Tom Field was inexplicably booked but despite this all the play was in the Bangor half of the pitch as Airbus continued to exert pressure. Bangor’s Dave Morley also picked up a booking for hauling down Chris Budrys. From Tom Field’s resulting free-kick Steve Tomassen swept home at the far-post to make it 2-0 to Airbus on 62 minutes and it was fully deserved.
Glenn Rule and Lee Owens were shown yellow cards a minute after the goal as tensions rose and tackles flew in. Jason Jarrett soon followed them into the book as well. In the meantime Bangor were still struggling going forward.
With 20 minutes to go Airbus replaced Jason Jarrett with Michael Roddy while Bangor replaced former Wingmakers favourite Ryan Edwards with Levi Mackin. With quarter of an hour to go the next best chance fell to Chris Budrys who dragged his shot wide but nearly put Airbus out of sight.
Bangor’s Liam Brownhill was booked for a foul on Lewis Field on 79 minutes before Airbus replaced Chris Budrys with Steve Abbott. He made an immediate impact in drawing a save from Lee Idzi with a low shot. A minute later Robbie Booth became the latest Bangor player booked for a cynical foul.
The Wingmakers final change with eight minutes to go saw Jordan Johnson come on in place of Ryan Wade.
Ironically the last 10 minutes were the most open of the game as desperation crept into Bangor’s play but the Wingmakers held firm and merited their 2-0 win.
The result means Airbus have qualified for Europe for the first time in the club’s history with their highest ever league finish. The Wingmakers have also broken their live TV hoodoo with a rare win over Bangor – this being a great end to a brilliant season of football at the Airfield.
By Rory Sheehan
Below: Wayne Riley scores the opening goal.