Championship Roundup: Breda Continue Fine Form

NIFL Championship

There was another full programme of Championship action on Saturday and plenty of action to report on so we’ll get started by looking at the match at Darragh Park.

Dergview 1 Ballyclare Comrades 1

Dergview probably came away from this game the happier of the two sides as they made it 5 points from their last three games with this draw over Ballyclare who slip to 3rd place. Both goals were scored in the first half of Saturday’s game with the Comrades taking the lead thanks to Adam Gray’s early strike. Dergview got themselves level after 38 minutes when striker Ryan Campbell beat Comrades goalkeeper Paddy Flood to the ball and was able to convert. This result along with defeats for Larne and Newry sees Dergview move 4 points clear of bottom into 10th place.

Limavady United 2 PSNI 1

Fans attending this match didn’t have long to wait for the action to start as Joel Bradley converted a right wing cross from Robbie Hume after 21 seconds to give United an early lead. After 19 minutes the sides were level when Wright headed home from a corner for PSNI. Clear-cut chances were few and far between in the game and the score remained 1-1 until the 72nd minute when Limavady’s Declan McKeever was fouled in the penalty area and Hume stepped up to convert the penalty to give United the lead. Both sides had further penalty appeals but on these occasions, the referee wasn’t having any of it and the Roesiders held on for three points that sees them move level on points with the Welders, sitting in 9th place and PSNI currently sit in 5th place.

Loughgall 2 Larne 1

With the news of a multi-million pound investor signing on and the addition of former Manchester United and Northern Ireland youth goalkeeper, and two-time NIFL Premiership winner with Cliftonville, Conor Devlin, signing on last week Larne fans perhaps thought things were looking up for them. Larne took the lead within the first few minutes of the game on Saturday thanks to a 20-yard free-kick from Ralph Kottoy. Things swung even further in Larne’s favour when Josh Finlay saw red reducing the visitors to ten men for the rest of the match. As quickly as Larne took the lead at the start of the first half Loughgall were level after half-time as a cross from Graeme Taylor was glanced past Devlin by substitute Conor Mullen to draw the sides level. Devlin had to prove his worth to save from Paul Stretton and Stefan McMaster but was finally beaten seven minutes from time when he could only parry Dele Montgomery’s shot and Peter Campbell was on hand to convert from close range. Larne remain rooted to the bottom of the table and are still to taste victory this season, while Loughgall are now unbeaten in three and move up to 4th place.

Lurgan Celtic 2 Harland and Wolff Welders 2

The highest scoring game of the day was at Knockrammer Park when Lurgan Celtic and the Welders scored four goals between them and still couldn’t be separated. It was Celtic who started the livelier of the two sides and they took the lead after 15 minutes when Warner Mullen headed home Philip Donnelly’s cross, taking his tally to eight goals for the season so far. Celtic came close to extending their lead when player-manager Brendan Shannon clipped the bar before Welders’ attacker Ross Arthurs drew a good save from Shane McPartland. The Welders got their equaliser before the half-time break when Celtic failed to deal with a throw in and evergreen striker David Rainey took advantage to score. The game was turned on its head just a few minutes into the second half when Rainey scored a second goal to give the Welders the lead. The Welders looked to be heading back to East Belfast with all three points but in the dying moments of the game defender Adam Rodgers popped up to score from another Donnelly assist. The Welders remain as they were in 8th place in the table, while Lurgan Celtic move into the top half.

Newry City 0 Institute 1

Newry now haven’t won in their last four games and have slipped to second bottom in the league, more worryingly for Darren Mullen’s men they have only picked up one win from their opening seven games this season. Stute, on the other hand, took advantage of Ballyclare, PSNI, Lurgan Celtic and Portadown dropping points to climb up to 2nd in the league. The only goal of the game came around the 20 minute mark when Newry lost possession in midfield and Aaron Harkin ran unchallenged to the edge of the Newry area where he saw his effort on goal parried by keeper Steven Maguire but when the ball was sent straight back into the danger area Gareth Brown took advantage of some Newry indecision to score from close range. That goal would prove to be enough for Stute but Newry will feel aggrieved that they were denied what they believed to be a certain penalty after an hours’ play when Mark McCabe appeared to be bundled over inside the area but the referee was unmoved.

Portadown 0 Knockbreda 1

Portadown have had a terrible September losing three out of their four league games and falling out of the top half of the table, in contrast, Knockbreda have won five in a row and are sitting three points clear at the summit. There is still a lot of football to be played but Jeff Montgomery will no doubt be delighted with the start his Breda side have made, while Niall Currie will be hoping for a return to winning ways soon. The only goal of the game came after 8 minutes when Portadown failed to clear following a corner and when the ball dropped in the box Karl Hamill was able to get the ball over the line. The early goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of the Ports who struggled to create many chances of note in the game, a bad day at the office for them.

That’s it for another week in The Championship but tomorrow we will be returning to have a look at the season so far.