The Championship Roundup: Breda Still Top Despite Dropped Points

NIFL Championship

There were plenty of goals in The Championship, as usual, this weekend as a total of 20 goals were scored across the six matched played across Friday and Saturday. We’ll be taking our usual look at all the action in the league.

Limavady United 2 Institute 2

Four goals and still the two sides could not be separated in this thrilling derby match played at Limavady Showgrounds. This season Robbie Hume started with Limavady, left to sign for Institute, only to return to the Roesiders a few weeks later so when United took the lead after 43 second following a defensive mix-up it can’t have been a surprise to many to see that it was Hume who had given his new/old side the lead. The lead didn’t last long and when Michael McCrudden was brought down in the area and then stepped up to convert the penalty himself the two sides were level once more. The same player scored again, and in the same, way, when this time it was James Dunne who was brought down in the penalty area but once again United were able to make the most of a defensive mistake when Caoimhan Bonner conceded possession on the edge of the area and Hume was able to convert past Martin Gallagher for his second. The score remained the same throughout the second half and both sides had to settle for a point that neither will perhaps be entirely satisfied with. On a more positive note for Institute off the pitch the club was granted permission to play their home games at Wilton Park for the foreseeable future. Since torrential rain caused significant damage to their own ground Stute have had to play all their matches away from home but this news will come as a welcome boost to the club.

Newry City 3 Larne 1

After no wins in four games Newry picked up a much needed three points at home to move themselves further away from the bottom of the table and above Dergview into 10th place. Newry went close to taking the lead just before the half hour mark but Stephen Hughes was unable to convert from the penalty spot. It wasn’t long though before City took the lead with Declan Carville getting on the end of a cross and poking the ball home. Whatever Tiernan Lynch said to his players at half-time must have worked as within a minute of the restart Gerard Thompson drove home from the edge of the area to pull the Invermen level. Larne looked on course to get at least a point out of the game but unfortunately when your lucks out, it’s out. On 85 minutes Newry scored what proved to be the winner when Keith Johnston pounced on a short back pass to round Conor Devlin and slot into the empty net. To add insult to injury Newry added a third goal when Jimmy Walker made sure of the win with a chipped finish over Devlin. Larne remain rooted to the foot of the table but some positive news of the pitch was that midfilder Ralph Kottoy has been called up to the Central African Republic squad to play in their friendly against Equitorial Guinea and we wish him well.

Ballyclare Comrades 4 Lurgan Celtic 0

Mark Kelly bagged a brace as Ballyclare moved to within two points of leaders Knockbreda with this victory over Lurgan Celtic at Dixon Park on Saturday. Kelly’s goals were sandwiched between goals from Stewart Nixon who gave his side the lead in the first half and Zach Barr who completed the scoring nine minutes from time. This was the first league game this season that Celtic have failed to find the back of the net and the defeat coupled with the Welders win elsewhere on Saturday sees them drop a place to 7th in the table.

Harland and Wolff Welders 3 Portadown 2

The Welders moved into the top half of the table with this victory over Portadown at Tillysburn Park, as the Ports recent sticky patch continued. Two set pieces in the first half looked to have the Welders cruising to victory, firstly Scott McMillan converted from close range following a corner and after the 30 minute mark Daniel McMurray scored following a free kick. Things looked to go from bad to worse for the Ports when just before half-time Niall Henderson was sent for an early bath following an off the ball incident. Portadown weren’t going to give up without a fight though and within a minute of the restart the lead was halved when Adam McCallum finished a corner from Kyle Neill. Another corner from Neill seen the Ports level things up after 60 minutes when Kevin Amunuke finished a headed pass from McCallum. The Ports weren’t level for long though as after 68 minutes striker David Rainey was fouled in the box and the striker stepped up to convert the penalty himself. The Welders have struggled with consistency this season but this could prove to be an important three points. Niall Currie’s points meanwhile slip down to 8th in the league and could be in danger if being left for dead in the race for promotion.

Knockbreda 0 Dergview 0

Despite dropping two points on Saturday and their recent winning streak coming to an end a point was enough to keep them two points clear at the top of the table. Ordinarily Dergview may have taken a point away from home against the league leaders but Newry’s win on Friday night means this result sees Richard Clarke’s side fall back down to 11th in the table. There wasn’t too many chances of note in the match with Breda going the closest when after 48 minutes Karl Hamill seen his header from six yards cleared off the line.

PSNI 1 Loughgall 2

Loughgall have had an excellent start to the season and given that Saturday’s win sees them sitting 3rd in the table, behind Ballyclare only on goal difference and two points off leaders Knockbreda, it would be fair to say the mid-Ulster side have went unnoticed so far this season. They were made to work for this one at Newforge Lane as Owen Moody gave the home side the lead after 36 minutes and it stayed that way for most of the game. Conor Mullen pulled the sides level after 80 minutes and just when it looked like it would be a point apiece Jamie Douglas connected with a free kick with his knee to send the ball past the PSNI keeper and send the Villagers home with all three points.

This week’s Championship fixtures are:-
Knockbreda v Institute
Larne v PSNI
Limavady v Newry
Loughgall v HW Welders
Lurgan Celtic v Dergview
Portadown v Ballyclare