Championship and PIL Roundup: Comrades Extend Lead and DC Win Crucial Match

NIFL Championship

Unfortunately virtually all football in Northern Ireland last weekend was wiped out due to the heavy snowfall towards the end of last week but Limavady’s home game with Ballyclare did go ahead and it was an absolute cracker!!! We’ll also take a look at last night’s Premier Intermediate League (PIL) game between Newington and Donegal Celtic.

Limavady United 3 Ballyclare Comrades 5 (Bluefin Sport Championship)

Ballyclare beat Limavady for the second week in a row and in doing so extended their lead at the top to 6 points, though 2nd placed Institute still have 3 games in hand. It was United who took the lead after 3 minutes on Saturday when talismanic striker Robbie Hume took advantage of a defensive error to tap home but the Comrades equalised after 24 minutes when Adam Gray outpaced the United backline and finished past Paul Wells in goal. Early in the second half Ballyclare took the lead when Stewart Nixon headed home Gray’s cross and 2-1 soon became 3-1 when Jason Johnston scored with another header. If the Comrades thought the game was over at that stage they were mistaken as after 58 minutes Hume reduced the deficit to one goal when he scored from the penalty spot after a handball inside the area. It was Ballyclare who scored next though as Gray added his second of the afternoon and this was soon followed by their 5th goal of the day as Adam McCart scored another header. Hume did complete his hat-trick but United also seen John Watt sent off for two yellow cards. United remain 6th in the league but any hopes of promotion would now appear to be ruled out and they face a fight on their hands to finish in the top six.

Newington Youth Club 0 Donegal Celtic 1

Both these sides went into last night’s game at Seaview level on points and knowing a win would move them ahead of Portstewart and 4 points clear of bottom side Annagh. DC had some chances early on in the game but couldn’t take them and then at the other end Newington began to take control with Sean McIlhone having to be at his best in goal on a number of occasions and when McIlhone was beaten DC skipper Mark Burns was on hand to clear off the goal line. The only goal of the game came in the first half when Ritchie Brent finished off a through ball from Robbie McVarnock. DC now move up into 9th place and have another big game on Saturday as they travel to Portstewart, Newington remain in 11th place ahead of Saturday’s game with 2nd placed Queens.

Normal service should return this Saturday as both the Championship and PIL have full programmes of fixtures and as usual I’ll be back to take a look at all the action, weather permitting of course.