Championship and Premier Intermediate League Roundup: Larne and Dergview Stalemate as Whites go Top

NIFL Championship

On Saturday there was a full programme of Championship games with plenty of action to talk about, due to the Steel & Sons Cup and Intermediate Cup there were only two games in the Premier Intermediate League (PIL) on Saturday but no shortage of goals to cover. We’ll start the roundup with Friday night’s Championship game at Shamrock Park.

Bluefin Sport Championship:-

Portadown 1 Newry City 4

After winning last week to end a run of defeats Niall Currie will have been hoping to kick-start Portadown’s season but they were in for a tough task against a Newry side, who have acclimatised well to life in the second tier of Northern Ireland. It was Portadown who struck first when Chris Lavery gave them the lead after 27 minutes but ten minutes later Kyle Neil diverted the ball past his teammate John Connolly in the Ports goal to draw the side’s level. Newry took the lead before half-time when James Walker scored following good link-up play from Keith Johnston and Mark McCabe. Declan Carville added a third goal six minutes after the break and the last goal came near the end of the game when McCabe got himself on the scoresheet. This result sees the Ports slip a place to 8th, while Newry remain in fifth, just four points off first.

Dergview 2 Larne 2

This was perhaps the most highly anticipated game of the day as the bottom two sides faced off against each other. Larne went into the game having picked up a win and a draw in their two previous games and had their eyes set on a win that would move them off the bottom for the first time since the opening weekend of the season. It was Dergview who struck first in the game though when Matthew Callaghan tapped home a team move and the score remained that way at the break. Larne levelled things up when Matthew Henry was the first to react to a deflected shot and the game was turned on its head thanks to a great strike from Darren Stuart to put the Invermen in front. Just when it looked like Larne were finally off the bottom Gareth Falconer snatched an equaliser for the Castlederg side five minutes from time. A draw does little for either side in terms of their own league positions but due to all the bottom half sides dropping points on Saturday they have marginally closed the gap.

Institute 2 Harland and Wolff Welders 1

Stute kept pace with the other sides at the top end of the table while the Welders will be rueing their inconsistency yet again. It was the Welders who took the lead in the game after just five minutes when Jordan Malone scored a great goal from outside the area. Stute were level not long after though when Niall Grace volleyed home the equaliser and before the break, Stute had taken the lead when Ryan Morrow scored another great goal from outside the area. The Welders saw much more of the balls in the second half but were unable to create many chances and the game finished 2-1. The result keeps Stute third in the table, while the Welders drop to sixth. Perhaps most worrying for Gary Smyth’s Welders side is the goals conceded column, only bottom side Larne and Lurgan Celtic have conceded more than the Welders 21 goals.

Knockbreda 3 PSNI 0

PSNI have now lost four games on the spin now and remain in tenth place but the gap between them and the bottom two is slowly but surely closing. Breda returned to winning ways on Saturday, after suffering three defeats in a row, thanks to goals from Patrick Cafolla, Ryan Newberry, and Lewis Irwin. This results keeps Breda in 2nd, ahead of Institute on goal difference and appoint behind Ballyclare.

Loughgall 2 Ballyclare Comrades 1

Ballyclare remain top despite suffering only their second defeat of the season on Saturday, while Loughgall bounced back from two straight defeats. Andrew Hoey opened the scoring for the home side when he sent a superb strike past Paddy Flood into the top corner after 10 minutes. After 20 minutes Loughgall doubled their lead when Chris Rodgers inadvertently diverted a Craig Taylor cross into his own goal. Comrades pulled a goal back when he finished from five yards after his initial shot was saved but despite pressing heard they were unable to get a second goal.

Lurgan Celtic 3 Limavady United 3

These two sides couldn’t be separated in this six-goal thriller on Saturday, despite the final scoreline the game was goalless at half-time though Celtic did hit the woodwork three times. The breakthrough came in the 55th minute when Stefan Campbell gave Celtic the lead but within 15 minutes goals from Robbie Hume and John Watt had United in front. Ronan Fitzpatrick brought the sides level again at 2-2 and Celtic set about chasing the winner but it was Limavady who took the lead through Hume and appeared all set to claim all the points before Campbell popped up for his second in injury time. This result keeps Limavady seventh in the table and Celtic also remain as they were in ninth.

Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League:-

Lisburn Distillery 3 Sport & Leisure Swifts 0

The last time this sides met it was towards the end of last season when both sides were fighting for survival, today they wanted the points for entirely different reasons as the Whites knew any sort of result would move them into first place and the Swifts had an opportunity to move further into the top half with most sides not playing league games. It was the Whites who ran out convincing winners though and they opened the scoring after 17 minutes when Aaron Harris, two goal hero in that last game between the sides, found space down the left and finished past Brian McGurk. The Whites doubled their lead in the 54th minute when Matthew Ferguson headed him Gary Workman’s free kick for his tenth goal of the season. The Whites wrapped up the scoring six minutes from time when a great ball from Timmy Clarke found Aaron Harris in space down the right and when Ferguson couldn’t finish the cross the ball came to Clarke who had continued his run into the box and hammered home for his first goal of the season. The Whites now sit three clear at the top while the Swifts remain in sixth place.

Dundela 3 Annagh United 0

Annagh seemed to have turned the corner with back to back wins recently and last week caretaker manager Paul Matchett was appointed to the job permanently but they came unstuck on Saturday against Dundela who took advantage of Banbridge not playing to move into third place. With no other sides in the bottom half playing this result keeps Annagh ninth in the table.

There are no PIL fixtures this Saturday once again due to cup fixtures but we’ll be back with another full programme of Championship action to look at.