A big weekend across the intermediate divisions this week, and one where every title challenger in action picked up three points. No ground gained or lost then, but the leading sides certainly asserted their authority over the teams further down the divisions this week.
In Mid Ulster, the top three racked up 12 goals in the three games played, with Banbridge Rangers the big winners of the day. Lee Feeney’s side romped to a 7-1 win over second-bottom AFC Silverwood at Cheney Park. Six first-half goals for the hosts made the second half a formality, before a late 7th put the icing on the cake.
Last week we told how Hanover needed favours from elsewhere to catch up with the top three, however, Saturday’s result looks to have put paid to any hopes they had of lifting the title, as they fell to a 3-1 home defeat to second-placed Crewe. This was an impressive win for Peter Kennedy’s side as they bounced back from a 5-4 home defeat in their previous game against Tandragee.
Leaders Dollingstown kept up their good form with a 2-1 win at Ballymacash Rangers on a day where all the goals were scored by Dollingstown players! Aaron Duke got the visitors off the mark but Aaron Moffett put through his own goal to equalise for Rangers. Duke got his second of the game to seal the win which kept the Dolly Birds top, seven clear of Crewe and Banbridge, who have two and three games in hand respectively.
Elsewhere, rock-bottom Camlough fell to a 15-0 defeat to Valley Rangers, while Windmill Stars secured a 3-0 win at home to St.Marys.
To the North West now, and with leaders Magherafelt Sky Blues not in action two of the teams in the chase were able to close the gap. Second place Strabane Athletic were comfortable 5-0 winners over Dungiven, moving within 5 points of the leaders having played a game less.
In a game between two residents of Swilly, Maiden City were able to see off bottom side Oxford United Stars with a 3-1 win, in what was officially a home game for City. City were on a high coming into the game, as they were the first side to win a trophy at the new Brandywell. They defeated Trojans 2-0 after extra time in the NI Intermediate League Cup Final on Wednesday night to lift their second trophy of the campaign, adding it to the Craig Memorial Cup triumph picked up in December.
Maiden City will now look to catch up on the four games they have in hand of the Sky Blues, as they sit in fourth place now with 19 points on the board compared to Magherafelt’s 32. Next week sees two huge games in the title race as the top four all play off against each other. Ardstraw welcome Magherafelt Sky Blues to Vaughan’s Holm, while Maiden City welcome Strabane to the Swilly Stadium, two games which could have a big say in the destination of the title.
Onto the NAFL now, and with East Belfast well ahead in games played and not in action this weekend, Rathfriland and Crumlin Star kept up their chase, with both sides securing wins which keeps them neck and neck in the title race.
Rathfriland Rangers moved up into second place with a hard-earned 3-0 win at home to Crumlin United, with James Costello netting what was his 7th hat-trick of an impressive season for Aaron Black’s men. Crumlin Star kept themselves level with Rathfriland as they secured a 3-1 home win over Drumaness Mills. These results moved both sides within 12 points of the East, and both have 8 games in hand on Stephen Matthew’s men.
Elsewhere, Immaculata enjoyed a very productive week, easing themselves away from the bottom two, securing two victories which allowed them to leapfrog both opponents in the table. On Saturday they defeated Malachians 4-2 at Grosvenor, before travelling to Seycon Park to secure a 2-1 win over Derriaghy.
To the BPIL now and once again the top three sides secured victories on Saturday to help them in the title chase, with Bangor, St. James Swifts’ and Glebe Rangers all taking three points. Bangor bounced back from last week’s defeat at Sofia to win comfortably 5-1 against bottom side Chimney Corner.
Second-placed St. James’ Swifts took the trip north to the side who began the day in third place, Dunloy. The home side took the lead early on before an own goal got the sides level at the break. St. James weren’t to be denied though and they scored three more to secure an impressive win and a valuable three points.
Glebe, meanwhile, travelled to the reigning champions Coagh United on Saturday. These two sides were neck and neck for much of last season, and both sides picked up a trophy in the end with Rangers defeating Coagh in the McReynolds Cup Final. This season Coagh have found themselves just outside the chasing pack but in this game they matched this high flying Glebe side, and it took two late goals to separate the sides as the visitors won 4-2.
Jason Wilmont’s side have a large number of games in hand on the top two, and the arrival of British Summer Time means they will see a number of midweek fixtures as they try to make up the gap. The first of these came on Tuesday night as they welcomed Newtowne to the Riada. On the night though the visitors secured a 2-1 win to take back to Limavady, leaving Glebe with one less game in hand on Bangor.
Bangor remain top of the table on 40 points from their 19 games, while St. James are four points behind from three games less. Despite the midweek defeat, Glebe’s fate remains in their own hands as they have 6 games in hand on Bangor, and are 11 points behind.
Ballymena Provincial Intermediate League
Saturday 24th March
Coagh Utd 2-4 Glebe Rangers
Bangor 5-1 Chimney Corner
Sofia Farmer 1-2 Desertmartin
Dunloy 1-4 St James Swifts
Tuesday 27th March
Glebe Rangers 1-2 Newtowne
|2||St James Swifts||16||11||3||2||40||14||23||36|
Northern Amateur Football League
Saturday – 24th March
Rathfriland Rangers 3-0 Crumlin United
Crumlin Star 3-1 Drumaness Mills
Immaculata F.C. 4-2 Malachians
Downpatrick F.C. P-P Albert Foundry F.C.
Tuesday 27th March
Derriaghy C C 0-2 Immaculata F.C.
|4||Albert Foundry F.C.||16||8||4||4||29||24||5||28|
|5||1st Bangor Old Boys||17||8||3||6||31||30||1||27|
|8||Derriaghy C C||17||5||4||8||27||33||-6||19|
Mid Ulster Intermediate A
Ballymacash Rangers 1-2 Dollingstown
Banbridge Rangers 7-1 AFC Silverwood
Hanover 1-3 Crewe United
Valley Rangers 15-0 Camlough Rovers
Windmill Stars 3-0 St Marys
NI Intermediate League
Dungiven 0 – 5 Strabane Athletic
Maiden City 3 – 1 Oxford United Stars
Trojans 2 – 0 Ballymoney Utd
|1||Magherafelt Sky Blues||13||10||2||1||27||18||9||32|
|9||Oxford Utd Stars||10||1||0||9||13||36||-23||3|