Championship Roundup: Comrades Come Out on Top in Seven Goal Thriller

NIFL Championship

PSNI’s game against Institute may have fallen foul of the weather at the weekend but the other five games in the Bluefin Sport Championship went ahead as planned. We start the roundup with a seven goal thriller that took place at Dixons Park on Friday night.

Ballyclare Comrades 4 v Harland and Wolff Welders 3

Ballyclare remain top of the table after this win on Friday and thanks to other results, and Institute not playing, have stretched their lead to 4 points. The Welders started brightly but it was the Comrades who took the lead after 6 minutes when Gary Brown fired home a superb strike from range. The lead didn’t last long though and former Ballyclare player David Rainey had the sides level again after 9 minutes, only for Mark Kelly to head the Comrades back in front two minutes later. After this action-packed start, there was some time for the spectators to catch their breath but the Comrades did extend their lead further before half-time thanks to s Stewart Nixon strike. With less than 10 minutes on the clock the game looked to be over but on 83 minutes a high ball forward eluded the Comrades rearguard and when substitute keeper Geoff McGinty could only parry Rainey’s effort the ball came off Jason Johnston and in for an unfortunate own goal. Soon after the kick off the Welders were level when a well worked corner saw Mikey Withers pull the ball back to Ryan Deans who hit his shot through a crowded penalty area and saw it squeeze into the goal. There was still time for one last twist though when a free kick from Samuel McIlveen in added time hit the woodwork but the rebound fell to Kelly who knocked the ball in from close range. The Welders remain 4th in the table but will be frustrated to have not been able to take advantage of results elsewhere, especially having fought back into the game.

Portadown 3 Loughgall 0

After four defeats in a row Niall Currie will have been delighted to see his Portadown side get back to winning ways with this convincing victory over Loughgall on Saturday evening. The Ports took the lead in rather fortuitous circumstances as a corner from Kyle Neill was aided by the wind and dropped over Loughall keeper Gareth Buchannan’s head and nestled in the net. The Ports doubled their lead after 35 minutes when Gary Warwick’s strike came back of the woodwork but teenager Luke Wilson was on hand to score the rebound. The game was well and truly wrapped up two minutes into the second half as Kevin Amunuke scored from Chris Lavery’s cross. Portadown climbed above Lurgan Celtic and PSNI bit remain in the bottom half in 7th place, Loughgall remain as they were in 5th.

Larne 2 Lurgan Celtic 2

Larne’s recent revival continued as they made if three games unbeaten and whilst they’re still bottom they have cut the deficit to a point and play Dergview, the side directly above them, this Saturday. The first half was scoreless but Larne did have the ball in the net when David Scullion lobbed the ball over Shane McPartlan in goal and Darren Stuart tapped home but the celebrations were cut short by the linesman’s flag. Celtic went close just after the break when Jordan Gibson’s shot came back off the crossbar. After 50 minutes Larne took the lead when Stuart had the ball in the net again but this time the flag stayed down. The score remained 1-0 until the 78th minute when Celtic were awarded a penalty and Warner Mullen rolled the ball past Conor Devlin. Stuart restored Larne’s lead soon after the equaliser when Stuart headed home a right-wing cross but just when Larne were starting to think they were no longer bottom Dara Noonan levelled the scores from close range. The point for Celtic, on top of PSNI not playing, moves them up a place to 9th.

Limavady United 1 Dergview 0

Another defeat for Dergview sees them nervously looking over the shoulders as they prepare for next Saturday’s game against Larne, while this much needed win for United sees them climb up to 8th. To be honest this game may not live long in the memory with the game’s only goal coming after 3 minutes, when a cross from the right was only partially cleared and Glen Law let rip with an impossible stop that flew into the net. Dergview thought they equalised when Aaron Arkinson’s shot was deflected off his teammate Ryan Campbell and into the goal but the linesman ruled that Campbell was in an offside position. Both sides had further opportunities to score but United were able to hold out for the win.

Newry City 1 Knockbreda 0

Victory for Newry on Saturday keeps them in the top half of the table and Knockbreda also remain as they were despite defeat due to the Welders and Loughgall suffering defeat and Institute’s game being called off. Breda looked on top in the early stages of the game when Mark Cooling went close with a free kick and Lewis Irwin saw a shot cleared off the line by Mark Hughes. After this though Newry stepped it up a gear and Stephen Hughes saw an effort saved by David Ferguson and Decky Carville and Thomas McCann both saw efforts cleared off the line. Newry scored the solitary goal of the game when good work by Keith Johnston to recover possession before releasing Mark McCabe down the right-hand side, McCabe’s cross was met in the area by Carville who finished past Ferguson. Newry essentially dominated the remainder of the game and perhaps the only frustration for Darren Mullen’s side is failing to score more than they did.

That’s all the action this week in the Bluefin Sport Championship, next Saturday we’ll have a full programme scheduled with the following fixtures:

Portadown v Newry

Dergview v Larne

Institute v H&W Welders

Knockbreda v PSNI

Loughgall v Ballyclare

Lurgan Celtic v Limavady