Another important week in Intermediate football, with a number of big games taking place that will have a hand in determining the outcome, and potential promotion candidates, for each of the four leagues.
As we remember the teams who have applied for the promotion playoff picture, Ballymena League sides Bangor, Brantwood, Coagh United, Glebe Rangers and Sofia Farm, NI Intermediate league clubs Maiden City and Strabane Athletic, plus Mid Ulster heavyweights Dollingstown, Crewe United and Banbridge Rangers, this will give us an idea which sides have put themselves in the driving seat.
Of those clubs, only Bangor and Dollingstown are top of their respective divisions, but a number of the clubs are well in the mix up for the end of season title carve up.
In Mid Ulster the top two sides, Dollingstown and Crewe, were in cup action this week, both sides coming through away ties against Intermediate B sides, Bourneview Mill and Markethill respectively. This allowed third placed Banbridge Rangers to make up ground on them though, as they saw off Valley Rangers 3-0 at Cheney Park to move within ten points of Dollingstown, but having played 5 games less than the Planters Park side. The bottom two, Camlough and AFC Silverwood, both fell to away defeats, Camloughs 3-0 reverse at Ballymacash sees them 6 points adrift of Silverwood, who lost 1-0 at Fivemiletown Utd. In the days other game Moneyslane and St Marys fought out a 3-3 draw at Jubilee Park.
In the north west we had a full programme of league matches, and leaders Magherafelt Sky Blues carried on their good form with a 2-1 win away at Ballymoney. Second placed Strabane drew 0-0 away to Newbuildings, while Ardstraw secured a 2-1 home win over Trojans.
Maiden City got back to winning ways after a couple of games without a victory, and it was an important one, 1-0 at home to Dungiven. This result lifted Maiden City above their opponents into 4th spot, 15 points behind Magherafelt but with five games in hand. This week Ardstraw host the leaders Magherafelt in the game of the day, while Maiden City make the short trip to city rivals Trojans for their local derby. Another Derry derby takes place at the Swilly Stadium where Oxford United Stars take on Newbuildings, while Strabane welcome Ballymoney United to the Melvin Complex.
The BPIL this week saw some big matches at the top of the table, and leaders Bangor secured an impressive 3-2 win away to Newtowne. The Seasiders had led 1-0 before Newtowne fought back to take the lead. Bangor had a player sent off but with the clock running down they grabbed the two goals they needed to travel home with the three points.
St. James Swifts strengthened their grip on second place with a 2-1 win on the road at Sofia Farm, and this allowed Dunloy to leapfrog Sofia as they welcomed Coagh United to McCamphill Park and sent them home empty handed as the home side secured an impressive 4-1 win over the reigning champions.
Glebe Rangers were back in league action this week, with two league games taking place as they look to mop up their backlog of games due to their excellent progress in the cups. On Tuesday night they welcomed Sofia Farm to the Joey Dunlop Centre and romped to a 5-2 win, before following that up with a trip to Antrim where they went one better by seeing off Chimney Corner with a 6-0 victory which lifted them up to fourth spot. Glebe are now eleven points off Bangor but with six games in hand of the leaders, a lot of games to fit into a relatively short spell for Glebe, but a challenge they will no doubt relish. In the remaining game this week Cookstown RBL drew 2-2 with Brantwood at Beechway, a result which does neither side any favours in the league table.
To the NAFL now and leaders East Belfast got back to winning ways after three games without a win as they travelled to Derriaghy and came home with a comfortable 5-0 victory. This proved to be the only victory for the top six sides this weekend, albeit Crumlin Star and Rathfriland Rangers were in cup action with both securing a passage to the next round of the Clarence Cup. 1st Bangor remain second following their 0-0 draw at home to 5th placed Albert Foundry, but it was at the other end of the table where the surprise of the day came as rock bottom Lisburn Rangers picked up only their second win of the season, an impressive 6-2 win over Immaculata. Shankill United continued their resurgence with a 3-0 win away to Drumaness Mills, a result which lifts them within two points of their hosts with two games in hand.
This weekend will see Crumlin Star and Rathfriland Rangers back in league action as they take on Derriaghy and Drumaness Mills respectively, while 1st Bangor travel to Downpatrick. Arguably the game of the day takes place at Paisley Park where 5th place Albert Foundry take on 4th place side Ards Rangers, with the hosts looking to leapfrog Rangers. East Belfast are in Clarence Cup action at home to Ballysillan Swifts so the chasing pack will be looking to take advantage as they chase down the leaders with the run in beckoning.
Ballymena Provincial Intermediate League
Brantwood 0 – 2 St James Swifts
Chimney Corner 0 – 6 Glebe Rangers
Cookstown Royal British Legion 2 – 2 Brantwood
Dunloy 4 – 1 Coagh United
Newtowne 2 – 3 Bangor
Sofia Farm 1 – 2 St James Swifts
|2||St James Swifts||13||9||2||2||33||11||22||29|
|12||Cookstown Royal British Legion||16||2||7||7||15||38||-23||13|
Northern Amateur Football League
Ards Rangers P-P Downpatrick F.C.
Drumaness Mills 0-3 Shankill United
Immaculata F.C. 2-6 Lisburn Rangers
Derriaghy C C 0-5 East Belfast
1st Bangor Old Boys 0-0 Albert Foundry F.C.
|2||1st Bangor Old Boys||17||8||3||6||31||30||1||27|
|5||Albert Foundry F.C.||15||7||4||4||26||22||4||25|
|7||Derriaghy C C||15||5||3||7||27||31||-4||18|
Mid Ulster Intermediate A
Ballymacash Rangers 3-0 Camlough Rovers
Banbridge Rangers 3-0 Valley Rangers
Fivemiletown United 1-0 AFC Silverwood
Moneyslane 3-3 St Marys
NI Intermediate League
Ardstraw 2 – 1 Trojans
Ballymoney Utd 1 – 2 Magherafelt Sky Blues
Maiden City 1 – 0 Dungiven
Newbuildings Utd 0 – 0 Strabane Athletic
|1||Magherafelt Sky Blues||12||10||1||1||25||16||9||31|
|9||Oxford Utd Stars||9||1||0||8||12||33||-21||3|