Championship and Premier Intermediate League Roundup: Annagh and Larne Win Two on the Spin

NIFL Premier Intermediate League

There was only one Championship game on Saturday, along with a full programme of Premier Intermediate League (PIL) fixtures but we’ll start our weekly roundup in Northern Ireland’s second tier.

Bluefin Sport Championship

Knockbreda 1 Larne 3

Both these sides wanted to take advantage of there being no other fixtures in the division, Breda knew a win would move them back into 1st, while Larne were sitting 5 points adrift at the bottom going into play and had a chance to reduce that deficit. Larne took the lead after 29 minutes through Darren Stuart but two minutes later Lewis Irwin equalised. Before the break, Larne keeper Stephen McConnell saved well from a Michael Halliday header and Stuart saw an effort hit the post. In the second half goals from David Scullion and a first goal for the club from Julien Anau put Larne in control. Breda finished the game with just eight players on the pitch as Jamie Paterson, Callum Birney and Ciaran Murray all received red cards. Both sides stay in the same positions in the table after this result but Larne are now just behind Dergview by 2 points.

Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League

Annagh United 2 Newington Youth Club 1

Two weeks ago Annagh were rock bottom with not a point to their name but two wins on the spin have pulled them up to 9th place in the table. United had to come from behind to get the win after Chris McFall gave the visitors the lead after 13 minutes and it stayed that way until the 67th minute when Gareth Rees scored the equaliser. It didn’t take long for the same player to give the home side the lead and make it two wins from two in the league for interim manager Paul Matchett. In contrast, Newington have slipped further down to 10th.

Armagh City 1 Tobermore United 3

Tobermore hadn’t won in the league since the opening game of the season and this welcomed three points sees them swap places with Saturday’s opponents and move up a spot to 7th. It didn’t take long for United to take the lead as Conor Kearns scored an acrobatic effort from a corner after just 5 minutes. Both sides had chances to add to the scoresheet but the game would remain 1-0 until the 75th minute when Dean Brown brought Jack Clarke down in the box, the referee awarded a penalty and gave Brown his second yellow of the day and Matthew Hynds converted from the spot. Despite being reduced to 10 men Tobermore didn’t look like settling for a point and after seeing an effort saved by the City keeper and another shot hit the post, Ryan Doherty gave United the lead in the 89th minute and added his second and Tobermore’s third into injury time.

Banbridge Town 1 Dundela 1

It was honours even at Crystal Park on Saturday but that wasn’t enough to keep Town top of the table as they slipped to 3rd, following results elsewhere on Saturday. There were no goals in the first half but Dundela did miss a great chance to take the lead from the penalty spot before David McMaster gave them the lead. It looked as though the Duns were all set to secure victory before Banbridge were awarded a penalty of their own and Stephen Teggart held his nerves to earn his side a share of the points. This result keeps Dundela in 5th place.

Lisburn Distillery 3 Donegal Celtic 2

After two league defeats in a row Distillery were hoping for a return to winning ways on Saturday, while DC needed points on the board to move them clear off the bottom of the table. The first half was a fairly cagey affair with few chances for either team, though both sides did hit the woodwork. DC took the lead after 53 minutes when Brett Ritchie took advantage of a mix up at the back and Stephen O’Flynn doubled the lead. Colin MacIlwaine made a couple of changes but the Whites just didn’t look like scoring until one of the subs Andrew Simpson headed home an Alan McMurtry free kick, game on! After 85 minutes a long ball from Whites keeper Jonah Nicholl eluded everyone and another one of the subs, Matthew Ferguson, latched onto the loose ball and with one foot flicked the ball away from the DC defender and with the other fired the ball past the DC keeper, a goal well worth watching on the Whites’ highlights show tonight. At this stage, the Whites’ tails were up and they were pushing for the win and it came in the 93rd minute when former Distillery defender Daniel Wilson converted a McMurtry cross into his own net. This win moves the Whites up to 2nd, behind Queens on goal difference as DC fell to the bottom of the table.

Queens University 7 Portstewart 0

Portstewart haven’t won since the first league game of the season and this heavy defeat away to Queens on Saturday sees them drop to 11th in the table, a point ahead of Donegal Celtic. In contrast, Queens are now in 1st place and their goal difference will have soared thanks to seven goals scored and a clean sheet. The result was never really in doubt as two goals from Ryan McCready, as well as Matt Hughes and Ciaran O’Hare made it 4-0 after 35 minutes. In the second half, Matt Hughes added his second and Queens’ fifth of the day and Aaron Keenan and Ronan Young got on the scoresheet to round off the victory.

Sport & Leisure Swifts 3 Moyola Park 3

There was nothing to separate these two sides on the Glen Road on Saturday in this six-goal thriller that had a red card and late drama to boot. The Swifts seemed to have the game wrapped up going into injury time thanks to two goals from Kevin Lynch and another from Stephen O’Neill had them 3-2 up, Moyola’s two goals had been scored by leading marksman Tiarnan Rafferty. In an attempt to snatch an equaliser Moyola sent a long ball forward and Swifts player Daniel Largey was adjudged to have handled this and was subsequently sent off. Rafferty took the responsibility himself but saw his effort saved by keeper Brian McGurk. Following the clearance, Moyola were awarded a free kick 20 yards from goal and Rafferty showed his confidence was not dented in the slightest as he duly dispatched. The draw doesn’t really do much for either team as they remain as they were in the table. Some sides may be worried about running out of match balls when they play Moyola though as Rafferty was the third player in recent weeks to score a hat-trick for them.

So that brings another exciting weekend to a close. There are no PIL fixtures this weekend but we have a full Championship programme to look forward to.