Normality was resumed in Intermediate football this weekend, with just about a full programme taking place. The Amateur League, however, had only two games scheduled, and both fell victim to the weather on Saturday morning. That aside, only one other game was lost throughout the Intermediate leagues as the weather conditions improved dramatically from the previous weekends big freeze.
Bangor continued their assault on a quick return to the NIFL structure as they secured a 4-3 win over one of this season Intermediate new boys, Cookstown Youth. Not for the first time this season Bangor found themselves behind before they turned the game around with two quick and early second half goals. Hugh Sinclairs side now sit 7 points clear of the chasing pack, albeit having played more games than their nearest challengers.
The teams sitting just behind Bangor in the table went head to head as reigning champions Coagh United welcomed St James Swifts to Hagan Park. The visitors took the lead on the hour mark, but Coagh gained a share of the spoils with a late equaliser. The result did neither side any favours in the title race though, with St James now seven behind Bangor with three games in hand, and Coagh a further four back, though they have just one game in hand on the leaders.
Elsewhere, Dunloy secured a comfortable 4-0 win over Desertmartin, Newtowne beat Brantwood 3-1, while Cookstown RBL romped to an 8-0 over Chimney Corner in a one sided game at Beechway.
In the NI Intermediate League, leaders Magherafelt Sky Blues travelled north to mid-table side Dungiven, but came home having dropped league points for only the third time this season as they drew 2-2. This meant that the chasing pack had a chance to make up some ground, and second-placed Strabane took advantage, with a 2-0 home win over Newbuildings.
Arguably the game of the day though took place at Swilly Stadium as 4th placed Maiden City hosted 3rd placed Ardstraw. Maiden City have a number of games in hand on the three teams above them due to their impressive cup form this season, and were looking to make the most of a game against their rivals. Ardstraw had other ideas though, and Ivan Sproules men travelled home with the three points after an impressive 1-0 win.
The Sky Blues remain top, with their 13 games having yielded 32 points, ahead of Strabane on 24 points from 11 games. Ardstraw follow on with 22 points from 11 games, while Maiden City sit 16 points behind the leaders with five games in hand.
To Mid Ulster now and with leaders Dollingstown in Marshall Cup action, Crewe United and Banbridge Rangers had the chance to make up ground with one of their games in hand on the Dolly Birds. Banbridge were the big winners on the day though, as they came from behind to see of Fivemiletown United 2-1 at Cheney Park.
Crewe, meanwhile, came out on the wrong side of a nine goal thriller at Crewe Park as they fell to a 5-4 defeat to Tandragee Rovers. Elsewhere, AFC Silverwood tightened things up at the bottom with a 3-1 win away at Ballymacash Rangers, while St Marys 4-1 win at home to Camlough leaves the villagers looking doomed at the foot of the table.
Banbridge now sit on 37 points, level with second placed Crewe but with two games in hand. Dollingstown are seven points ahead of the pair, but, perhaps crucially, Rangers have four games in hand on the reigning champions.
This weekend also seen the quarter finals of the Intermediate Cup take place, with all four games beating the weather. Premier Intermediate League top two, Dundela and Queens, both made it safely into the semi finals of the competition, and both triumphed over league rivals on the day.
Dundela travelled to Moyola Park and came away with a comfortable 3-0 win, while Queens welcomed Lisburn Distillery to the Dub and they too enjoyed a comfortable victory, this one by 3-1. The last remaining PIL side in the competition were Tobermore United, but they fell to a 3-2 defeat at NAFL side Immaculata.
The final semi final berth was taken by BPIL side Glebe Rangers, as they came from behind to secure an impressive 2-1 win at home to Mid Ulster side Windmill Stars. The Armagh side had taken an early lead, one which they held until just after the hour mark when the home side equalised. With extra time looming though Glebe bagged an 88th minute winner to set up a semi final tie with Queens. The other semi pits Dundela against Immaculata, with the two games set to take place on the 4th and 11th of April, ahead of the final at the National Stadium on Tuesday 8th May.
Ballymena Premier Intermediate League
Bangor 4 – 3 Cookstown Youth
Coagh United 1 – 1 St James Swifts
Cookstown RBL 8 – 0 Chimney Corner
Newtowne 3 – 1 Brantwood
Dunloy 4 – 0 Desertmartin
|2||St James Swifts||14||9||3||2||34||12||22||30|
Northern Amateur Football League
Ards Rangers P-P Downpatrick F.C.
Malachians P-P Albert Foundry F.C.
|2||1st Bangor Old Boys||17||8||3||6||31||30||1||27|
|5||Albert Foundry F.C.||15||7||4||4||26||22||4||25|
|7||Derriaghy C C||15||5||3||7||27||31||-4||18|
Mid Ulster Intermediate A
Ballymacash Rangers 1-3 AFC Silverwood
Banbridge Rangers 2-1 Fivemiletown United
Crewe United 4-5 Tandragee Rovers
St Marys 4-1 Camlough Rovers
Valley Rangers 1-0 Richhill AFC
NI Intermediate League
Dungiven 2 – 2 Magherafelt Sky Blues
Maiden City 0 – 1 Ardstraw
Strabane Athletic 2 – 0 Newbuildings Utd
Trojans P – P Oxford United Stars
|1||Magherafelt Sky Blues||13||10||2||1||27||18||9||32|
|9||Oxford Utd Stars||9||1||0||8||12||33||-21||3|