A big turn in the weather this week meant we had a large programme of intermediate league and cup football take place, with some important games at the top and bottom of the four leagues.
In the NAFL this week the big game at the top was at the Cliff, where reigning champions Crumlin Star took on leaders East Belfast. Star were coming off the back of their first defeat of the season having lost comprehensively to an impressive Rathfriland Rangers side in midweek. That defeat seemed to spur the champions on, as they seen off the East 3-1. Rathfriland followed up that fantastic 6-3 win over Crumlin Star by racking up another six-goal haul, this time without reply as they defeated Drumaness Mills 6-0 at Iveagh Park.
Sandwiched between East Belfast and Crumlin Star are 1st Bangor OB, and they strengthened their hand with a 3-2 win against the team who had begun the weekend in 3rdplace, and their near neighbours, Ards Rangers. Shankill Utd continued their rise up the table with a 2-0 win at home to Malachians, making it three wins from their last five. Along with Immaculata, Shankill Utd have a number of games in hand on the teams around them in the table and will be looking to make the most of those games in the coming weeks. Bottom side Lisburn Rangers miserable season continued as they fell to a 2-0 defeat away to Albert Foundry, while Downpatrick picked up a point on the road at Derriaghy to move four clear of the bottom side.
This weekend East Belfast travel to Seycon Park to take on Derriaghy, and Ards Rangers will look to get back to winning ways at home to Downpatrick. 1st Bangor host Albert Foundry , while Crumlin Star and Rathfriland are in Clarence Cup action.
In the BPIL goals were the order of the day at the top of the table, as Bangor hit Desertmartin for 8 at the Bangor Fuels Arena. Newtowne went one better though, as they travelled to Chimney Corner and seen off the bottom side 9-0 at Allen Park. These results would suggest that next Saturdays fixture between Newtowne and Bangor at Scroggy Road is all set to be a cracker.
With Coagh United not in action, St James Swifts took the opportunity to jump above them into second place this week with a 2-0 win at Brantwood. Sofia Farm remain in contention and they battled to a 1-1 at home to neighbours Cookstown RBL, despite being down to ten men for over 80 minutes of the game. This sets up another big game next week as Sofia host St. James Swifts, while elsewhere Coagh United travel to Dunloy and Glebe get back to league action away to Chimney Corner.
To Mid Ulster now, and another mountain of goals for the teams at the top. Leaders Dollingstown romped to a 9-2 win at Planters Park against Ballymacash Rangers, but their seven-point lead remains as Crewe welcomed bottom side Camlough Rovers to Crewe Park and sent them home on the wrong end of a 6-0 scoreline.
Moneyslane picked up an impressive win as they travelled to Portadown to take Hanover who were keen to protect an unbeaten league run stretching back to August. Moneyslane though came away from Brownstown Park with a hard-fought 2-1 win, and they remain four behind second-placed Crewe. For their part, Hanover will look to get back on track next week as they travel to Armagh to take on Windmill Star. Hanover remain in mid-table, but with 19 points from just 11 games they have plenty up for grabs in the coming weeks.
At the bottom, Richhill opened up a 3 point gap to second bottom AFC Silverwood with an impressive 3-0 win at home to Fivemiletown Utd, with Silverwood themselves falling 4-1 on the road at Valley Rangers. This weekend both Dollingstown and Crewe are in Marshall Cup action, so this will allow 4th placed Banbridge Rangers to catch up on one of their games in hand on the sides above them as they welcome Valley Rangers to Cheney Park.
In the NI Intermediate League, the game of the day at Vaughans Holm between Ardstraw and Strabane Athletic was off, so Maiden City had a chance to edge closer to the top three as they welcomed lowly Ballymoney to the Swilly Stadium. However it was only one point rather than three as the visitors ground out a 1-1 draw, to stretch their lead over bottom side Oxford United Stars ever so slightly to three points, as the Stars lost 3-2 at near neighbours Newbuildings. Next week leaders Magherafelt Sky Blues are back in action as they travel to North Antrim to take on Ballymoney, while Ardstraw welcome Trojans to Vaughans Holm. Strabane take on Newbuildings at the Melvin Complex, and Maiden City welcome Dungiven to the Swilly Stadium.
Northern Amateur Intermediate League
Rathfriland Rangers 6-0 Drumaness Mills
Derriaghy C C 2-2 Downpatrick F.C.
Crumlin Star 3-1 East Belfast
Shankill United 2-0 Malachians
1st Bangor Old Boys 3-2 Ards Rangers
Albert Foundry F.C. 2-0 Lisburn Rangers
|2||1st Bangor Old Boys||16||8||2||6||31||30||1||26|
|5||Albert Foundry F.C.||14||7||3||4||26||22||4||24|
|7||Derriaghy C C||14||5||3||6||27||26||1||18|
Ballymena & Provincial Intermediate League
Sofia Farm 1 – 1 Cookstown Royal British Legion
Chimney Corner 0 – 9 Newtowne
Brantwood 0 – 2 St James Swifts
Bangor 8 – 0 Desertmartin
Dunloy 0 – 1 Ballynure OB
|2||St James Swifts||12||8||2||2||31||10||21||26|
|12||Cookstown Royal British Legion||15||2||6||7||13||36||-23||12|
Mid Ulster Intermediate A
Crewe United 6-0 Camlough Rovers
Dollingstown 9-2 Ballymacash Rangers
Hanover 1-2 Moneyslane
Richhill AFC 3-0 Fivemiletown United
St Marys 2-2 Tandragee Rovers
Valley Rangers 4-1 AFC Silverwood
NI Intermediate League
Ardstraw P – P Strabane Athletic
Dungiven 4 – 1 Trojans
Maiden City 1 – 1 Ballymoney Utd
Newbuildings Utd 3 – 2 Oxford United Stars
|1||Magherafelt Sky Blues||11||9||1||1||23||15||8||28|
|9||Oxford Utd Stars||9||1||0||8||12||33||-21||3|