This weeks roundup begins in the North West, with the NI Intermediate League back in action this weekend.
Maiden City are one of those teams who have applied to be in the promotion mix at the end of the season. The Swilly stadium men romped to a 6-0 win over league leaders Magherafelt Sky Blues on Saturday, in the process wiping out the visitors unbeaten record. Maiden City now boast the only 100% record in the division, though to date have played only four league games.
This is due to their progress in a number of cup competitions, with the latter stages of the Intermediate Cup, Craig Memorial Cup, League Cup and Irish Cup all reached by Colm Cassidy’s men. Indeed in the Boxing Day Craig Memorial Cup showdown Maiden City saw off Portstewart 2-1 to lift their first ever trophy at senior level. Maiden City were big underdogs against the Premier Intermediate League side, but rose to the occasion and are now aiming to compete on a weekly basis in the PIL, with Portstewart themselves making the same journey last season.
Maiden City were formed in 1990 as a cross community youth football club with their alumni including Darron Gibson, Eunan O’Kane and Shane Ferguson to name just three. In 2016 took the decision to add a senior side to the ranks in order to give a pathway to adult football for the youngsters coming through their ranks. This has proved to be a success so far, and after a solid start they finished in a respectable mid table finish in their first season at Intermediate level, and this time around they have been on fire all season.
In the Irish Cup a trip to Seaview to face Crusaders was the reward for another victory over Portstewart, this time a 3-1 win AET following a 1-1 draw at Seahaven, while they look forward to a League Cup Final vs their city neighbours Trojans. This coming Saturday they make the trip to Strabane Athletic, who have also put their name forward for promotion at the seasons end.
Strabane play their football at Melvin Sports Complex and have long had ambitions to move up the ranks in the Irish League pyramid. Formed in 2010 they can include Dungannon Swifts pair Johnny Lafferty and Liam McMenamin among their former players and they are keen to give such players a platform to play for their local side in the Premier Intermediate League.
Strabane also find themselves right in the mix for the title in the NI Intermediate League sitting second on 17 points, five points behind Magherafelt Sky Blues but with eight games played they have a game in hand on the leaders.
This weekend the two potential PIL sides go head to head at Melvin in what is sure to be a cracker with both sides averaging around 3 goals a game.
Meanwhile in the NAFL leaders East Belfast were held 2-2 at Albert Foundry though their lead at the top of the table remains 13 points over Ards Rangers, as they too were held on their travels, 1-1 at Malachians. Rangers have three games in hand on the East Park men so will certainly have a big say in the title mix, while 1st Bangor, who came up from 1A last season along with champions East Belfast, remain in close pursuit a further point behind.
Last season’s Premier division champions Crumlin Star are creeping ominously up on the horizon, however. The Ardoyne men are the only side in the Amateur league to win every division from 2C to Premier and they remain on course to add to their maiden top flight crown this season.
The Star have a 100% record in the league this season, seven wins from seven meaning they are only 16 points behind East Belfast but with ten games in hand. They will welcome to leaders to The Cliff in a couple of weeks in a game that could go a long way to determining the destination of the title.
In the BPIL there were just two league games and in one of those Coagh United closed the gap to leaders Bangor to two points with a 3-1 home win over Brantwood. In the other game Cookstown RBL picked up only their second win of the season and one they will savour as they triumphed 2-0 over rivals Cookstown Youth.
To Mid Ulster now, and with leaders Dollingstown not in action second place Crewe Utd closed the gap to four points with a 2-0 home win over Valley Rangers. The Dolly Birds travel to Bourneview Mill this week in Marshall Cup action, while Crewe have the chance to close the gap further as they travel to struggling Camlough Rovers.
Ballymena & Provincial Intermediate League
Coagh Utd 3-1 Brantwood
Cookstown RBL 2-0 Cookstown Youth
|8||St James Swifts||8||4||2||2||18||10||8||14|
Northern Amateur Football League
Albert Foundry 2-2 East Belfast
Derriaghy CC 2-0 Lisburn Rangers
Drumaness Mills 0-1 Crumlin Utd
Malachians 1-1 Ards Rangers
Shankill Utd 2-0 Downpatrick
|3||1st Bangor Old Boys||15||7||2||6||28||28||0||23|
|5||Albert Foundry F.C.||11||5||2||4||20||19||1||17|
|9||Derriaghy C C||12||4||2||6||22||23||-1||14|
Mid Ulster Intermediate A
AFC Silverwood P-P Dollingstown
Crewe United 2-0 Valley Rangers
Fivemiletown United 2-0 Moneyslane
Hanover 6-2 St Marys
Richhill AFC 1-0 Camlough Rovers
Tandragee Rovers 2-1 Ballymacash Rangers
NI Intermediate League
Dungiven 4-1 Oxford Utd Stars
Maiden City 6-0 Magherafelt Sky Blues