Newry Win Battle of the Top Two

NIFL Championship

There was a full programme of Bluefin Sport Championship action on Saturday, with the top two facing off at the Newry Showgrounds and at the other end of the table Lurgan Celtic’s chances of surviving the drop are looking more and more unlikely with each passing game. In total there were 26 goals in the division on Saturday so let’s get started.

Ballyclare Comrades 1 Portadown 0

After two defeats in a row, Clifford Adams’ Comrades side got back to winning ways with victory over Portadown at Dixon Park on Saturday. Both sides went close in the early stages with Kyle McVey heading just over for the Ports and at the other end visiting keeper Chris McGaughey had to tip over a header from Gary Brown. After these opening exchanges both sides’ defences were both very much on top for the remainder of the first half but after 58 minutes the Comrades found a way through the Ports’ rear-guard. Mark Kelly received the ball and after some good hold up play laid the ball back to Brown who curled the ball past McGaughey. The remainder of the game was played out in the Comrades half but for all their possession they couldn’t create any real chances and in fact it was the Comrades who went closest to extending their lead after 83 minutes but Dean Youle couldn’t get his header from a Matty Parker corner on target. Both sides remain as they were in the table, 4th and 5th respectively, but the Comrades have extended their lead over the Ports to 6 points.

Harland and Wolff Welders 1 Loughgall 0

It was the Welders who came away with the points from a sunny Tillysburn Park on Saturday to remain 3rd in the table and well in the hunt for promotion. In the first half most of the chances came the way of the visitors with Nathaniel Ferris seeing a shot saved by Welders keeper Ben McAuley, the same player had an effort off target and just before the break Loughgall skipper Ricky Copeland also fired over. Ferris continued trying his luck after the break but once again couldn’t find the target and with ten minutes to go Marcus Dallas forced a brilliant save from McAuley to keep the score tied at 0-0, at the other end Ross Arthurs had a good chance to put the Welders in front but like Ferris he didn’t trouble Gareth Buchanan in the Loughgall goal. The winner came in stoppage time when Arthurs made up for his earlier miss to secure the win and send the Welders fans home happy. Loughgall remain 6th in the table and are now 11 points off the pace regarding promotion.

Knockbreda 1 Dergview 4

Dergview secured an important win at Breda Park on Saturday in Peter Allen’s first game in charge following the recent resignation of Richard Clarke, and in doing so managed to close the gap on their opponents and widen the gap between themselves and bottom side Lurgan Celtic, though they still sit 6 points behind 10th place and guaranteed safety. Dergview raced into an early first half lead thanks to goals from Matthew Callaghan, Gareth Falconer and Ryan Campbell. Breda did manage to pull a goal back but a further goal from Duwayne McManus wrapped up the win for Dergview.

Larne 2 Limavady United 1

Tiernan Lynch’s Larne side continued their red-hot form and now sit 7th in the table, nine points ahead of their nearest challengers and haven’t suffered defeat in the league since the 11th November, they’ve also scored 13 goals in their four league games in 2018. It didn’t take long for the Invermen to take the lead as after 3 minutes defender Paul Finnegan met Martin Donnelly’s corner to score his second goal in two weeks. The score remained 1-0 until the 66th minute when United keeper Paul Wells left his area to clear the ball but could only find Larne striker David McDaid who, with the keeper struggling to get back, lobbed the ball home from all of 30 yards to double his side’s lead. Andy Devlin did pull a goal back for the Roesiders but it was too little too late and they drop one place to 8th.

Newry City 3 Institute 1

Newry secured a crucial win over 1st placed Institute to move to within four points of the top of the table, Institute do have a game in hand but the two sides will meet once more in the league before the season ends. It was Stute who took the lead in the game after 10 minutes when Jamie Dunne found himself in some space and slotted the ball past keeper Steven Maguire. The tables started turning after 33 minutes when an off the ball incident between Stute’s Caoimhan Bonnar and Newry’s Keith Johnston led to the former being given his marching orders. Despite being a man light Stute held the lead until the 67th minute when Dara Noonan scored his first goal for Newry following a Declan Carville knockdown and two minutes later Stephen Hughes went close to putting them in front but couldn’t keep his shot down. Newry did take the lead when Noonan doubled his goalscoring account for Newry and the win was sealed when Mark McCabe scored to make it 3-1 to the home side.

PSNI 11 Lurgan Celtic 1

It was a day to forget for Frankie Wilson’s boys as they suffered a heavy defeat to PSNI at Newforge Lane on Saturday, they remain 4 points behind Dergview, a not insurmountable gap, but their goal difference has taken a battering following this fixture. It didn’t take long for the first goal to come as PSNI’s big striker Lukasz Adamczyk headed home from a corner, the striker then went on to help himself to three further goals but he was not the only player to bag himself a hat-trick as Johnny Courtney also scored three goals to spark the argument as to who would be leaving with the match ball. Also on the scoresheet for Colin Malone’s side was Chris Trussell who returned to the side after a break from football for a few months, he helped himself to a brace, and Mark Anderson and Jake O’Neill completed the scoring, the Celtic goal was scored by Zac Wilson. This victory has moved PSNI up into 8th place and they now sit 7 points clear of the danger area with a much healthier goal difference.

There’s another full set of fixtures this Saturday with the following games taking place:-

Dergview v Limavady United

Institute v Ballyclare Comrades

Larne v PSNI

Loughgall v Newry City

Lurgan Celtic v Knockbreda

Portadown v Harland and Wolff Welders