Championship Roundup: Newry Win Again and Are Things Looking Up for Larne?

NIFL Championship

There was another full programme of Championship action on Saturday and another day with plenty of talking points, goals and one or two surprising results.

Limavady United 3 Loughgall 1

United moved up three places into 5th in the table, ahead of their opponents on Saturday. Loughgall started on Saturday the brighter of the two teams but couldn’t find a way past Paul Wells and it was United who scored first through Robbie Hume after 27 minutes. Loughgall equalised before half-time when Peter Campbell was adjudged to have been fouled in the six-yard box and Jamie Douglas sent Wells the wrong way. United’s lead was restored two minutes after the break when a corner from Paul Owens could only be cleared by Loughgall keeper Craig Robinson straight to Gerard Gillan who volleyed home. The remainder of the game was far from comfortable for the Roesiders though and Wells had to be at his best on a number of occasions but after 87 minutes the points were secured when Hume scored from the spot after Glenn Law had been fouled. Loughgall now find themselves in the bottom half of the table.

Newry City 4 Ballyclare Comrades 1

Newry’s excellent run of form recently continued against table toppers Ballyclare on Saturday, this is now seven games unbeaten, six of those have been wins and they’ve scored four goals in three of their last four games. There were few chances in the opening 35 minutes of the game before James Walker gave Newry the lead when he volleyed into the bottom corner following good work from Mark Hughes down the left-hand side. Walker went close to doubling his and Newry’s tally after 55 minutes but his curling effort beat the keeper but not the crossbar. Newry did double the lead with 20 minutes to go when Mark McCabe headed home Stephen Hughes’ cross, further goals from Darren King and Marty Havern put the game beyond doubt. The Comrades did pull one back when a cross from Adam Gray was converted past Steven Maguire by one of his own defenders. Defeat in this game keeps the Comrades top but only on goal difference, Newry remain in 3rd but are now only three points behind Institute and Ballyclare.

Portadown 0 Harland and Wolff Welders 0

A rare goalless draw in The Championship on Saturday as both sides left with a point from a game they were likely targeting all three from. The game perhaps won’t live long in the memory as both sides had efforts from distance that failed to pose much of a threat and it was well into the game before David Rainey forced Ports keeper Chris McGaughey into the first save of the day and his opposite number Robert Robinson denied Peter Duffin and Adam Salley. Robinson had to be alert late in the game when his own defender Scott McMillan headed towards his own goal from close range. The Welders stay as they were in 4th place but Portadown drop a place to 8th.

Lurgan Celtic 0 Institute 1

Lurgan Celtic’s torrid run of form of late continued as they now fall to the bottom of the table, Institute took the lead after 20 minutes when a counter attack finished with James Dunne converting from inside the area for what proved to be the only goal of the game. Celtic had plenty of possession in the game but as can often be the case for a struggling side they just couldn’t find a way through the defence and things went from bad to worse when Philip Donnelly was brought off with a nasty looking leg injury before the end of the game. In contrast to their opponents on Saturday, Stute have slashed Ballyclare’s lead at the top of the table to goal difference.

Dergview 0 PSNI 1

There was plenty of late drama at Darragh Park on Saturday as a late penalty from Lukasz Adamczyk was enough to give the visitors the points but the home team must have thought they had salvaged a point when deep into added time they were awarded a penalty of their own but Jordan Williamson saved well to preserve the points. Dergview remain in 10th place in the table, while PSNI move three points clear of Dergview.

Larne 3 Knockbreda 1

Talksport presenter and former Newcastle striker Mick Quinn was in attendance as Larne won to finally move off the bottom of the table. Goals from Matthew Henry, Darren Stuart and a Ross Arthurs own goal were enough to win the game with Karl Hamill replying for Jeff Montgomery’s side. After a strong start and leading the table at one point Knockbreda have fallen to 6th in the table, 7 points behind Ballyclare. Larne in the meantime have lost only once in six games and were further boosted after the game on Saturday by the signing of former Derry City, Coleraine, Cliftonville and Waterford United striker David McDaid, who had also been a target for Premiership champions Linfield.

This weekend’s Championship fixtures are:-

Newry City v Limavady United (Friday)

Harland and Wolff Welders v Dergview

Institute v Knockbreda

Loughgall v Lurgan Celtic

PSNI v Larne

Ballyclare Comrades v Portadown