Queens Title Challenge is Boosted and Distillery Secure Top Six Finish

NIFL Premier Intermediate League

There were four games in the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League (PIL) on Saturday and, perhaps surprisingly, both games scheduled for Tuesday went ahead despite the poor weather so I’m back to look back on all the action.

Lisburn Distillery 1 Portstewart 0 (Saturday)

The Whites moved a step closer to a top six finish with this win at home against a resilient Portstewart side at on Saturday. It was the visitors who had the first real chance of the game after 14 minutes when Patrick Saunders, deputising for the injured Jonah Nicholl, had to save a James Pedan free-kick but when the rebound fell to Eoghan Quigg he looked set to put his side ahead but sent his effort over the bar from just outside the six yard box. Nine minutes later and the Whites had a golden opportunity to take the lead from the penalty spot when Mikey Withers was brought down by keeper Lukasz Bednarz but the normally reliable Alan McMurtry missed the target with his effort. In truth neither side had many chances after this and the game will not live long in the memory but just when we looked all set for a goalless draw, Distillery substitute Nick Beta produced a moment of quality to give his side the victory.

Moyola Park 2 Armagh City 3 (Saturday)

Unlike their opponents Moyola were already secure of their place in the top six going into this game but will have been hoping to put some pressure on the team’s leading the way at the top of the table. Moyola started the game with plenty of possession but it was City who took an early lead through an Andrew Wilson strike and just after the 30 minutes mark their lead was doubled thanks to Jack Clarke. Just a few minutes after Armagh’s second goal Moyola were back in the game, when Oran McAuley was fouled inside the area Jason Paul stepped up to convert the subsequent spot kick. Moyola were on level terms just over ten minutes after the restart and it was Paul who got on the end of a long ball forward to add his second of the game. Moyola weren’t level for long though as just a few minutes later Nedas Macuilaitis scored what proved to be the winner. A frustrated Moyola side were then reduced to ten men when Nicky Hudson was shown his second yellow card to make a second comeback unlikely.

Queens University 4 Banbridge Town 1 (Saturday)

These two sides met for the second time in the space of a few days but while they couldn’t be separated the previous Tuesday night on this occasion it was Queens who ran out convincing winners with a three goal winning margin. Queens goals on the day came from Ronan Young, Ryanb McCready and Eamon Fyfe helped himself to a brace, Banbridge’s goal came through defender Stuart Thompson. Queens are now 6 points clear of 3rd placed Moyola and only two points off top spot.

Sport and Leisure Swifts 2 Tobermore United 1 (Saturday)

Sport and Leisure ensured a big boost in their chances of a top six finish this season with a win over one of their nearest challengers on Saturday at Glen Road Heights. Sport and Leisure were made to work for their three points though as Ryan Doherty edged Tobermore ahead ten minutes into the second half following a right wing cross. With just less than 20 minutes of the game remaining Daniel Largey equalised when he headed home from a corner and when the Swifts were awarded a penalty in the 77th minute Gavin Johnson stepped up to fire his side into the lead and onto the win. Wutg just seconds of the game remaining both sides were reduced to ten men following an off the ball incident.

Tobermore United 1 Banbridge Town 4 (Tuesday)

Tobermore’s chances of a top six finish took a further blow on Tuesday as this defeat at Fortwilliam Park now leaves them 5 points behind Sport and Lesiure. Stephen Taggart opened the scoring in the 16th minute when he got on the end of a Jack McCreanor pass to finish past ‘keeper Andy Findlay. Darren McGrath made it 2-0 before the break from a Stuart Thompson cross and Teggart completed his hat-trick in the second half. Conor Kearns pulled one back but it was Town who went closer to scoring again when substitute Joe Todd seen a penalty saved by Findlay after he himself had been fouled.

Lisburn Distillery 2 Moyola 0 (Tuesday)

With the Tobermore v Banbridge game taking place earlier in the day Distillery knew that a win would guarantee them a place in the top half of the table when the league splits. Both teams had chances in the first half, Nick Beta couldn’t connect with a cross from Mikey Withers on the left and when the ball came to Matthew Ferguson he could only send the ball over the crossbar and in the meantime at the other end Patrick Saunders was called into action on no less than two occasions to keep Moyola out. Saunders had to save his side again early in the second half before Matthew Ferguson scored from an Alan McMurtry cross from the right and ten minutes later Adam Wright headed home his first goal for the Whites to secure the win and a top six finish. The joy was perhaps mixed with a mix of relief on Tuesday night at New Grosvenor as this marked the first time Distillery had improved on a previous seasons finish since the 2010/11 season when they finished in the top half of the Premiership and won the League Cup.

There are four fixtures in the PIL this Saturday and then three on Tuesday night, the following fixtures take place on Saturday:-

Banbridge Town v Moyola Park

Portstewart v Lisburn Distillery

Sport and Leisure Swifts v Armagh City

Tobermore United v Queens University

And on Tuesday night the programme is as follows:-

Donegal Celtic v Banbridge Town

Lisburn Distillery v Annagh United

Sport and Lesiure Swifts v Dundela