Belfast Telegraph

Ballyclare Comrades planning for more giantkilling against Ballymena United

By Conor McLaughlin

Ballyclare Comrades have another Premiership scalp in their sights after being paired with Ballymena United in the third round of the WASP Solutions League Cup.

Eddie Hill's side rocked Irish League football by dumping Linfield out of the competition last week and will hope to set tongues wagging again when they travel to The Showgrounds on Tuesday, October 7.

Fellow shock-troopers H&W Welders, who got the better of Warrenpoint Town in their second round clash, have been handed a home date with fellow Belfast Telegraph Championship 1 side Bangor, whose tenants Ards will host Dungannon Swifts on the Clandeboye Road.

Back-to-back cup winners Cliftonville – who have not conceded a goal in the competition since a November 2012 quarter-final defeat of Portadown – are poised to face Carrick Rangers at Taylor's Avenue, with Irish Cup holders Glenavon welcoming Glentoran to Mourneview Park.

Crusaders will continue their quest to reach the final for a fourth consecutive season when they entertain Coleraine in a repeat of the 2012 decider, while Institute will have home advantage against Ballinamallard United and Portadown must see off the threat of Knockbreda.

The NI Football League have, in addition, announced that next month's third round fixtures will signal the start of a pilot experiment with extra officials behind each goal-line.

Familiar presences in Champions League and Europa League football in recent years, fifth and sixth officials have also been introduced to a swathe domestic divisions across the Continent and will be used in the remainder of this season's League Cup games as well as in the Irish Cup from the fifth round onwards.

"The use of additional Assistant Referees is now commonplace in many of the top competitions across Europe and I am pleased the NI Football League is now part of that elite group," said vice-chairman of the Premiership Management Committee, Stephen Bell.

"If they are good enough for the Champions League, we should at least be prepared to see what benefit these Additional Assistants can bring to our game. We all know refereeing is a very tough job. The pressure is constant for referees to make the right decision first time every time and if these extra officials can help deliver that, then the game as a whole can only benefit."

And officials were certainly at the heart of the action during Friday night's Premiership fixtures at Mourneview and the Coleraine Showgrounds.

Glenavon got the better of previously unbeaten Ballymena United during a controversial battle which, following Kris Lindsay's early header, saw the Lurgan Blues double their advantage when Rhys Marshall nodded home from a 65th minute corner that United contested had been awarded in error.

In a skirmish which followed shortly afterwards, referee Raymond Hetherington then flashed red cards in the direction of perplexed Ballymena skipper Allan Jenkins and midfield counterpart Shane McCabe ahead of David Cushley plundering a late consolation for the visitors.

Coleraine, meanwhile, picked up a point in a scoreless draw with Portadown which saw ref Arnold Hunter dish out no fewer than 11 yellow cards – two of which led to Ports skipper Keith O'Hara departing the scene with five minutes left on the clock – in a game which both sides afterwards claimed had not been physical by any stretch of the imagination.

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