Championship Roundup: Loughgall and Lurgan Celtic Share Five Goals in Thriller

NIFL Championship

Institute’s home game against Knockbreda fell victim to a waterlogged pitch but the other five Championship fixtures went ahead at the weekend. Stute’s game being called off also handed Ballyclare the chance to move top of the table in their own right.

Newry City 2 Limavady United 2

Both if last season’s newly promoted sides continued their recent good form of late, a draw in this game keeps Newry unbeaten in eight league games, while Paul Owens’ United side have lost only one game in their last six. For a while it looked as though United were going to bring Newry’s run to an end as goals from John Watt and Robbie Hume put them in pole position before Declan Carville pulled one back for Newry before half-time. In the second half James Walker was on hand to score his 6th goal of the season and rescue a point for Newry. A draw keeps both sides as they were in the table with Newry in 3rd and Limavady 6th.

Ballyclare Comrades 2 Portadown 1

Ballyclare got the better of Portadown for the second time this season with this win at Dixon Park on Saturday. Ballyclare controlled the opening 30 minutes of the game and took the lead after 27 minutes when a free kick from Samuel McIlveen deceived everyone and flew in. The goal seemed to spark the Ports into life and Paddy Flood was called into action to deny Adam Salley and Ross Larkin late in the half. Portadown were back on level terms a minute after the restart when Salley beat the offside trap and finished past Flood but just a minute after that the Comrades had restored their lead thanks to Gary Brown. The second half was much like the first with the Comrades on top early on but the Ports did apply some late pressure but to no avail. This win moves Ballyclare three points clear in 1st due to Institute not playing on Saturday, Portadown remain 8th but teams below them are closing in fast.

Loughgall 3 Lurgan Celtic 2

Basement side Lurgan Celtic took the lead in this game when former Loughgall striker Warner Mullan scored his 11th goal of the season after 10 minutes. Loughgall equalised 10 minutes later though when Jamie Douglas fired first time past Gavin O’Neil in the Celtic goal and the same player had out the home side ahead before the break when he headed home Andrew Hoey’s cross. Both sides went close early in the second period with Loughgall keeper Craig Robinson saving superbly from Stefan Campbell. Midway through the second half an incident involving Celtic’s Raymond Fitzpatrick and Loughgall’s Peter Campbell seen the game stopped for five minutes but in the end no action was taken much to the frustration of the home side. Ricky Copeland headed home a third goal for Loughgall after 75 minutes but Celtic set up a nervy finish when Mullan scored from the spot for his second of the game. Celtic applied plenty of late pressure but struggled to test Robinson in goals and it was Loughgall who went close to scoring again when Hoey hit the post deep into added time. Celtic are still routed to the bottom of the table but still remain only a point behind Dergview, while Loughgall still occupy 5th in the table.

Harland and Wolff Welders 5 Dergview 1

The Welders kept themselves amongst the division’s top sides with this comfortable home win over Dergview on Saturday. Craig Harris opened the scoring in the game for the Welders after Ross Arthurs had earlier hit the crossbar. The Welders lead was then doubled when 41 year old striker David Rainey volleyed into the bottom corner and two soon became three when Ryan Deans shot deflected inside the error wrong-footing the keeper. Ross Arthurs did get himself on the scoresheet when he headed home unmarked at the back post following a long throw. Dergview did pull a goal back but the Welders and Rainey weren’t done yet and following a mix up between defence and keeper Rainey nabbed his second to wrap up the scoring.

PSNI 1 Larne 1

Larne have continued their recent run of good form, while PSNI made it 4 points from 6 but both sides may have been targeting a win on Saturday to put some distance between them and the bottom two. Larne looked the most likely team to score in the first half with Darren Stuart and Matthew Henry hitting the bar and Jordan Williamson saving well from James Georgakli. PSNI did have the ball in the net but Adam Wright’s header from Ryan Berry’s corner was ruled out for a foul. The same player gave the home side the lead before the break though when he headed home again from a corner and this time the goal stood. Larne went in at half-time one down but it wouldn’t stay that way for long as substitute Dickson Chisanga got on the end of Stuart’s fine pass and coolly slotted past Williamson to ensure Larne got a share of the spoils. Larne remain 10th in the table but have played more games than any other side in the league, PSNI sit a place ahead of them in 9th.

That’s all the action for this week in The Championship, there’s four fixtures to look forward to this week:-

Dergview v Newry City

Institute v Loughgall

PSNI v Harland and Wolff Welders

Ballyclare Comradres v Limavady United

We’ll be back as usual with all the action.