Championship Roundup: Comrades Move Top as Larne Finally Win

NIFL Championship

Another full programme of action in the Bluefin Sport Championship saw a win at the top of the leaderboard as well as a first win of the season for the league’s bottom side Larne. We start this week at Breda Park were two of the top teams faced each other.

Knockbreda 0 Institute 1

Knockbreda went into this game having been unbeaten in their last six games and sitting pretty at the top of the table but this defeat along with Ballyclare’s win elsewhere saw them drop a place to 2nd, they remain ahead of Saturday’s opponents on goal difference. Stute needed just four minutes to score what proved to be the game’s only goal when Gareth Brown finished past David Ferguson. Both sides had chances in the game to score further goals but a combination of missed chances and good goalkeeping from Ferguson and his opposite number, Martin Gallagher, meant it was Stute who stayed 3rd but move a step closer to Knockbreda.

Larne 2 PSNI 1

Finally after nine league games Larne were able to celebrate victory for the first time this season on Saturday as they ran out 2-1 winners over PSNI. The victory was made all the more impressive due to the fact that PSNI are still sitting in the top six of the table despite defeat on Saturday but unfortunately for the Invermen, Dergview’s win on Saturday means they remain 5 points adrift at the foot of the table. It was the home side who opened the scoring on Saturday when former Dungannon and Glentoran player David Scullion opened his account for the club from 20 yards. Scullion doubled his side’s lead early in the 2nd half but when Mark Anderson pulled one back on the hour mark Larne fans must have thought it was going to be a repeat of what has been the story of their season so far but on this occasion they were able to see the game out and finally get a win on the board.

Limavady United 1 Newry City 3

Last season this fixture was a Premier Intermediate League clash, for the record Limavady won the division with Newry finishing second and coming up via the play-offs but on Saturday it was Newry who came out on top and took advantage of other results to shoot themselves up to 7th in the table while Limavady dropped down to 10th. Newry took the lead after 27 minutes when Jimmy Walker curled a free kick around the United defensive wall and the ball squeezed under Paul Wells in goal to cross the line. It was 2-0 before half-time when Keith Johnston scored following a pass from Stephen Hughes. The second half was slow to get started but after 70 minutes Newry sealed the points when Johnston lobbed the ball after his initial shot had been saved. Gerard Gillan scored a consolation goal for United after 80 minutes with a headed effort at the back post.

Loughgall 1 Harland and Wolff Welders 2

The Welders’ rise up the table continued on Saturday as they were able to leapfrog Saturday’s opponents and move into 4th place on goal difference. All the goals in the game came in the second half and it was the Welders who drew first blood when a Craig Harris shot from outside the box was deflected into the goal. Jamie Douglas brought the sides level going into the last 20 minutes but just when it looked like it was going to be a point apiece Scott McMillan snatched a winner for the Welders to give them the win and make it six games unbeaten.

Lurgan Celtic 1 Dergview 3

Dergview have only suffered one defeat in their last seven league games but too many draws sees them sitting in 11th position in the table but this positive win on the road has pulled them level on points with Limavady and Portadown and they are only a point behind Lurgan Celtic, Newry and PSNI. It only took the away side two minutes to open the scoring when Richard Lynch beat Conor McCorry from range but Dergview couldn’t extend their lead when in the 51st minute Warner Mullen applied the finishing touches to a team move and squared the game up. Celtic had chances to take the lead through Mullen, Jason Rogers and Adam Rodgers but in the 80th minute Adam Buchanan put the Castlederg men back in front and the same player made sure of the points late in the game with another long-range strike.

Portadown 1 Ballyclare Comrades 2

Saturday’s final game sees two sides who are going through contrasting fortunes at the minute, Ballyclare were able to take advantage of Knockbreda’s defeat to move into 1st place while yet another defeat for Portadown sees them slip ever closer to the bottom of the table. It was a day for early goals on Saturday as the Comrades found themselves in front after three minutes when Gary Brown hit a low effort into the bottom corner past Joh Connolly. In an action-packed opening 15 minutes to the game, the Ports hit the woodwork twice through Kevin Amuneke and Gary Warwick before equalising after 13 minutes when Stefan Lavery converted Kyle Neill’s cross at the near post. After the hour mark, the Comrades scored the winner when Brown turned provider, crossing to Samuel McIlveen who forced the ball past Connolly with the help of a deflection.

There’s only one Championship fixture this coming Saturday as Knockbreda host Larne.