Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Telegraph Championship round-up, November 15

All the latest from Championship One and Two:

Championship One

 

Ballyclare Comrades 1 Ards 1

Both sides had chances early on, but the breakthrough came for the home side on 28 minutes, when Andrew Simpson slipped a perfect ball through the centre of the Ards defence to find Randal Reid, who coolly slotted the ball past the keeper and in off the inside of the post from 15 yards.

On 32 minutes, the visitors were unlucky not to get back on level terms when Willie Faulkner smashed a great 25-yard effort off the crossbar.

The second half saw Comrades defending their lead fairly comfortably for the most part, but the final quarter of an hour saw Ards step up the pressure for an equaliser. However, it looked as if they would go home with nothing until they grabbed a point, with a 90th minute strike from Owain Beggs from just inside the box, which took a wicked deflection off a defender’s boot to fly past keeper Paddy Flood.

 

Larne 1  Lisburn Distillery 2

Lisburn Distillery travelled to Inver Park hoping to continue their recent impressive run of form, but at the same time, fully aware of how tough a game this would be, given that the Larne side they were facing, managed by former Whites player David McAlinden, who were sitting second in the table. As it turned out, this was not to be a game for the faint-hearted, as both teams went hammer and tong to secure the points.

Larne were out of the blocks much quicker and had an early chance when Ross Davidson picked the ball up and hit a powerful effort over from range. However the Whites didn’t learn from this early warning sign, as after only five minutes of play, Ciaran Murray was played through by a Stuart King pass before thundering his shot past the advancing Ryan McBride in the Distillery goal.

Murray was then inches away from making it two, as King surged down the right flank, his cross nearly falling gracefully to the feet of Murray but somehow, the ball was cleared.

Distillery knew this was a big let-off and worked hard as they started to settle into the game, the Whites starting to get a good rhythm going in midfield and their first chance soon followed as Jimmy McIlhagga played a cross into the box only to see it slid away by Ross Davidson when Stephen Doyle was lurking.

This was followed up by another chance as Sean Southam flicked the ball off to Doyle, whose lightening pace saw him get into the box before cutting the ball back for Joe McDonnell but his effort was fired straight at the keeper.

Whites manager Tommy Kincaid however was forced into a change as Ciaran Burns was forced off due to injury - he was replaced by Kieran O'Connor but with Darren Nixon suspended and only one recognised centre-half now on the field of play, the visitors must have feared the worst.

The change may have taken some of the tempo out of Distillery, as Larne nearly had the ball in the net when a Stuart King free kick bounced just wide of the right hand post and then Murray then was once again involved in the action as he smashed his effort just wide of goal .

Distillery were however level on 32 minutes as they hit back through a real screamer, when Stephen Doyle curled his free kick from 20 yards out around the Larne wall and into the corner of the net.

Distillery then had another great chance as William Bingham played in Sean Southam, but his shot was well blocked by the Larne defender. Whites custodian McBride then made a superb save to keep the sides level when Murray ran through and looked to dink the ball over the advancing keeper, but he got his fingertips to the ball to knock it behind - a great save to help out his teammates.

Larne had the first chance of the second half as substitute Craig Todd's shot was well blocked by Stuart Thompson and then Murray nearly had his second as he chipped the ball over McBride, the ball rolling just wide. The Whites seemed very slow to start the second half and, as a result, it was the hosts well in the ascendancy in the early stages of play, pressing the visitors back at every opportunity.

However, similar to the first half, the Whites slowly settled into their rhythm & took the lead on 70 minutes, when Peter Sargent played in a blistering cross into the penalty area and red hot forward Southam was on hand to power home an unstoppable header.

Kincaid made a further change, bringing off Bingham and replacing him with Robbie White, his first time returning to Inver since his transfer in the summer, but it was Doyle who nearly had the game sealed as his volley at the back post just went over the top of the bar. Bradley Morton, in his first game back since suffering a broken jaw pre-season,  was superb all game and it was he who denied Larne a late equaliser as his tackle was timed to perfection when Todd was lining up a shot from a promising position.

A superb result then for the Whites, and one which extends their recent unbeaten run to six, Bradley Morton was outstanding as was Artur Kopyt and Ryan McBride between the sticks.

 

Armagh City 3 Donegal Celtic 2

The local side began the stronger and took a deserved lead on 15 minutes, when a cross from Dale Montgomery found Dara Noonan at the back post and he headed past the despairing visiting keeper Gerard McErlean.

And, four minutes later, it was 2-0 to City, when Stephen Murray ran through the static Celtic back-four before blasting wide of the onrushing McErlean into the back of the net.

At this stage, Armagh were cruising and looked as if they would have the game wrapped up by the interval.

They had another great chance to increase their tally on 34 minutes, but Philip Donnelly dragged his shot wide when well-placed.

Then, on 40 minutes, City's young midfielder Ronan O'Hara blasted just over the Celtic crossbar following an inch-perfect cross from Paul Carvill.

A minute before the break, however, the match was turned on its head when a mix-up in the Armagh defence allowed the ball to drop at the feet of Celtic's Darren Stewart, who tapped home from close range.

Just after the break, Denver Taggart almost brought an equaliser for the visitors but somehow he managed to blast the ball over the Armagh crossbar from just three yards out.

The Belfast side were now pressing for the equaliser, but were caught cold by a superb City break which resulted in a 25-yard dipping shot from Carvill being flicked over the crossbar by the alert McErlean.

From the resultant corner taken by Montgomery, however, Ultan Lennon powered in at the back post to head City's third past the stranded Celtic stopper.

To their credit, DC piled forward at every opportunity, and Noonan and Lennon at the heart of the Armagh defence had to be at their brilliant best to keep the visitors at bay.

But, with time running out, there was nothing they could do to stop Pearse Devine making a superb run into the box before sending a 15-yard pile-driver into the corner of the net past outstretched City keeper Sean Morgan.

City's impressive midfielder Cornor McAnallen was sent off near the end after receiving his second yellow. Celtic's Ryan Dunlop also received a red after a crunching tackle and, in an unsavoury melee on the final whistle, another visiting player was given his marching orders as tempers flared.

 

Dergview 2 Loughgall United 0

Clinically-executed goals by Nathan Cashel and Aaron Arkinson helped Dergview maintain their unbeaten home record with a hard-fought but deserved victory over Loughgall United at a sodden Darragh Park.

Cashel paved the way with a stunning solo effort on 23 minutes, and the impish Arkinson banked the points and Dergview's fifth home victory of the season by waltzing through, 15 minutes from time.

In between, Loughgall weaved some pretty patterns, but the visitors lacked a cutting edge in the final third, while, in stark contrast, the hosts posed a real threat throughout and had the home attack demonstrated a little more potency then the margin of victory could have been significantly greater.

Dergview, who as a result of the win move up to joint third in the Championsip One rankings, flew out of the traps with Arkinson having a shot diverted inches wide, while right-back Neil Coulter headed over at the near post from a cross by striker Richard Lecky.

In between, the hosts spurned a glorious opportunity when Richard Lecky sent Darren Higginbotham scampering down the left flank. The former Ballinamallard man dashed in on goal only to be denied by Loughgall custodian Gareth Buchanon, when the better option was to square to Dicky Lynch, who was standing unmarked and screaming in front of a gaping goal.

Richard Clarke's men continued to enjoy the better of the opening exchanges and it was no real surprise when they forged ahead courtesy of Cashel's stunning goal on the counter attack.

There didn't appear to be any imminent danger to the visiting goal when the ball was cleared up the left touchline. Cashel, however, rode a lunging challenge around halfway and headed towards goal with no fewer than four attacking players for company. Like everyone else, the back-tracking Loughgall defence was expecting the attacker to square to one of his team-mates but the Kesh man had other ideas and superbly curled the ball low inside Buchanon's far post.

Higginbotham wasn't having one of his better days in front of goal and just eight minutes into the second half the hitman side-footed wide after connecting with a high dropping ball.

That effort apart though, it was Loughgall who were now asking the bulk of the questions, and shortly after the hour mark, the visitors almost equalised.

A sweeping attack down the right ended with raiding full-back Mark Carson whipping in a dangerous delivery which a stretching Stephen O'Neill could only steer into the grateful hands of Boggs.

Dergview responded on the counter attack and a minute after coming off the bench, Stephen Sheridan sprinted clear to chip the ball past the advancing Buchanon and agonisingly past the keeper's right post.

That was a major let-off for Loughgall, however, moments later, the visitors did concede a second, when Arkinson waltzed through and turned defender Kevin Anderson inside out before before smashing low and hard past Buchanon.

That proved the killer blow and apart from a free kick by Dergview old boy Warner Mullen that whistled past Boggs' left upright, the Lakeview Park men never seriously threatened the home side's comfortable advantage.

Loughgall's miserable afternoon was complete when substitute Colm Curtis was dismissed for a lunging challenge on Higginbotham in stoppage-time

 

Championship Two

 

Lurgan Celtic 1 Moyola Park 0

Celtic opened the scoring in the fifth minute when Daniel Ryan beat the full-back and crossed for Chris Lavery to coolly place the ball into the Moyola net, giving the home side a lead they never surrendered.

Play flowed from end-to-end and for such an important game, it was played in a hard but fair and sporting manner. Both sides kept their discipline and on any other day, Lavery would have completed a hat-trick or maybe two.

On at least six occasions, his goal-bound shots were saved by the Moyola keeper who had an inspired game. The visitors, who enjoyed plenty of possession around the midfield area, were unable to create any real chances.

The home side thought they had scored a second when Hoops full back Declan McVeigh sent in a dangerous high cross, which the keeper failed to gather, and the ball was hooked away with the home players claiming it had crossed the line to no avail.

Ryan then ghosted in behind the centre-half and his pass was struck towards goal by Lavery, but a defender got back to save the day, and from another free kick, Celtic defender John Cochrane headed just wide when a goal looked certain.

Despite having the lion’s share of attacking, Celtic couldn't add to the score but they finished deserved winners.

After the game, all three officials commented on the performance of both sides for playing the game in a very honest and open fashion, with every player coming out of the game with great credit.

 

Ballymoney United 0 Sport and Leisure 1

After a quiet opening 10 minutes, Agnew for the visitors was sent off for a blatant foul Ballymoney United's Dempsey.

Shortly after that, Jenkins came close for the visitors, skimming the ball past the home team goal. The game descended into a dogged midfield battle with neither team gaining any sort of advantage.

Lynch came close for Sport and Leisure on 32 minutes after a bit of slack defending by the home team. A free kick by McKenna for the home team was well saved by Nugent in the visitor’s goal on 36 minutes.

Just before half time, Jennings got involved with a Sport and Leisure player who went to ground for no apparent reason and consequently, Jennings got sent off. Sadly, the first half will be remembered for the lack of discipline and not for the lack of football.

A great piece of link-up play down the right on 51 minutes between Dickson and Boyle put in Bradley, who blasted over the bar from close range.

The deadlock was broken on 68 minutes when Thompson pounced on a loose ball in the home six-yard box and blasted past Moore in the home goal with the help of a deflection.

With time running out, Ballymoney United had McKenna red-carded on 82 minutes for an encroachment on a visitor’s free kick. The home team came close from a corner on 88 minutes when McClelland crashed his header from a corner kick against Nugent's post. Ballymoney piled on the pressure in the dying minutes, but could not find that crucial break.

 

Limavady United 2 Tobermore United 0

On a perfect day for football, Limavady won this enjoyable derby to strengthen their claims to be dark horses for promotion. This was an assured performance from front to back, with the only criticism being that the team should have converted more of the multitude of chances created.

The return of Bryan McClelland to the back four was an unqualified success, as he produced a display of tenacity and intelligent defending and dovetailed perfectly into the centre-half role. In midfield Logue and Harkin continued their fine form, while Andy Ferris has now scored eight times in his brief spell at the club, and is rapidly finding his feet at this level.

The Roesiders were out of the traps quickly, as they sought to make amends for last week's last minute defeat at Queen's. Within four minutes Lee Harkin had dashed into the box and forced Wells to concede a corner. Three minutes later, intelligent play between the forwards saw Friel put Ferris through, and the burly centre forward shrugged off his marker but with the route to goal opening up before him, he put his shot wide.

Five minutes later it was Friel's turn to go close, as Harkin's measured cross-field ball picked him out on the right, but Wells was smartly off his line to block the shot with his shins. 

United were testing the visitors' defence, as both their full-backs were having a torrid time, and a free kick picked out Blain Morrison at the back post, who lost his marker and nodded in from close range. Three minutes later, the lead was doubled and again the provider was Harkin, whose perceptive through-ball was perfectly weighted for Ferris to burst through the back-line, round the goalkeeper and plant the ball firmly in the net.

Limavady were in total control at this point, and could have scored again on 26 minutes when Friel had a 25-yard free kick which was bound for the top corner until the outstretched hand of Wells intervened.

To their credit, Tobermore rallied and had their best spell of the match, pressing Limavady back into defence, but without really stretching the home side.

The second half saw Tobermore come out determined to get back into the game, but it was the hosts who were first to threaten with Brown's audacious chip from 25 yards, but he was off-target.

The visitors went close with a free before Friel and Ferris combined again, the former failing to make a full connection after his strike partner had gone on a typical charge into the box. For the visitors, Parkhill was trying his best to score against his old team, but his shot on 62 minutes was well wide.

On 68 minutes, Forrest received his second yellow after upending Friel.

The last 20 minutes then became a series of counter-attacks by the Roesiders as the visitors would be caught up field, and the ball would be played to Friel, who would fail to score through a combination of good goalkeeping, bad luck, and wayward shooting.

He put one chip over both keeper and bar, and another effort was lacking in power. Brown also had a pile-driver from outside the box tipped over by Wells. There was almost a late consolation for the visitors, but McGraw saved well at the second attempt.

So Limavady win again, and keep a clean sheet, but will have to up their game for the visit of league leaders Lurgan Celtic next weekend.

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