Belfast Telegraph

Championship round-up January 4

Round-up of action from Championship One & Two:

Championship 1:

Bangor 1 Donegal Celtic 0

A fast-paced game at Clandeboye Park which saw a couple of late red cards — one for each side — was lit up on a cold afternoon by a great goal for the home side just one minute after the break. It was a goal that keeps the Seasiders top of the Championship 1 table.

A superbly worked move saw midfielder Dom Melly slip the ball from the right flank midway inside the visitors' half to Andy Morrow on the edge of the area. The veteran striker pushed a pin-point pass inside to Jordan Forsythe and the winger gave Celtic ‘keeper Gerard McErlean no chance with a low drive from nine yards into the bottom right hand corner of the net.

The game began in bright sunshine, with both sides looking to prise an opening. However, defences were on top, and the first real chance fell to the home side on nine minutes when striker Stephen O'Neill's low drive from 16-yards brought a good save from McErlean.

Bangor skipper Dean Youle saved his side on 19 minutes when he nicked the ball off the toe of Celtic striker Joe Todd, while three minutes later a clever chipped eight yard shot by Gary Warwick was saved at the second attempt by home ‘keeper Paul Cairnduff.

At the other end, Forsythe saw his 18-yard shot deflect off the keeper in the 28th minute, while eight minutes later Bangor defender Colin Nixon, six yards from goal, just failed to get enough purchase on Dean Youle's long free kick and McErlean gathered comfortably.

Forsythe's 46th minute goal brought a rapid response from Celtic, spurred on by the excellent Kevin Hughes, but 80 seconds after the goal, the visitors' defender Karl Rossborough's power-packed drive from 22-yards was touched over by Cairnduff .

The Bangor keeper was again in action in the 63rd minute as he threw himself to push Mark Shannon's 25-yard piledriver round the post.

Four minutes later, McErlean reacted lightning-fast to push over Forsythe's seven yard side-footed shot from Morrow's long ball in from the left.

Bangor sub Melly was shown the red card by referee Evan Boyce following a tackle on Joe Todd in the 81st minute, and the Celtic striker brought a fine save from Cairnduff two minutes later with a shot from the edge of the area.

In the 88th minute, Celtic left-back Shannon was also sent for an early bath for dissent, while the last chance of the game fell to Bangor three minutes into added time, but sub Andy Hall failed to convert.


Ballyclare Comrades 5 Dundela 3

After an even opening, it was the visitors who hit the front in the 21st minute when Kyle Cherry converted from eight yards after a ball in from the right.

In the 40th minute, Comrades equalised when Duns ‘keeper McKay uncharacteristically dropped the ball from a cross and Chris Trussell was there to finish from close range.

The home side took the lead in the 56th minute when, after Johnny McClurg had hit the post with a header, Trussell was first to the loose ball to fire home from nine yards.

Four minutes later, the buoyant Comrades increased their advantage when Johnny McClurg headed into the top corner of the net from five yards after getting on the end of Daniel Smith corner.

In an amazing finish to a pulsating game, Dundela managed to get back on level terms. First, they pulled a goal back in the 82nd minute, when Owain Beggs headed home from a corner.

Then, in the 90th minute, a free-kick into the Comrades box lead to a scramble and Jamie Black managed to knock the ball into the net. Following this, Comrades midfielder Gerard McAlea received a red card for an altercation with the referee.

With the home side reduced to 10 men, the Duns looked favourites if there was to be a winner in injury-time, but Eddie Hill's men had other ideas.

Two minutes into added time, substitute George Young was brought down in the box after being slid in by Trussell. The referee pointed to the spot and Johnny McClurg planted the penalty past the ‘keeper.

The extensive period of injury-time had another goal. Seven minutes in, a long ball caught Dundela short at the back and Trussell latched onto it, taking the ball round the keeper and slotting home from seven yards.


Dergview 2 Carrick Rangers 1

Livewire attacker Andy Sproule produced a sensational stoppage-time winner as Dergview boosted their survival hopes with a precious victory over promotion chasers Carrick Rangers at Darragh Park.

Two minutes into extra time, the pacey wide man collected the ball in his own half, skipped past his marker, dashed forward and cut inside a defender to rifle an unstoppable shot inside goalkeeper Gareth Deane's near post from 18-yards.

The result comes as a timely morale boost ahead of next week's glamour Irish Cup-tie against Danske Bank Premiership leaders Linfield at Windsor Park.

Despite difficult underfoot conditions, both sides began in positive fashion with Rangers spearhead Richard Gibson testing home shot-stopper Alan Buchanan early doors, while at the other end Darren Higginbotham blazed a teasing Sproule delivery over from a narrow angle.

Without the suspended Adam Lecky and with the injured duo Gareth Porter and Aaron Arkinson on the bench, Dergview moved the ball early at every opportunity looking to turn the Rangers defence.

And it was a strategy that worked to good effect with Gareth, Sproule and Higginbotham all posing a threat due in the main to the excellent platform provided by the midfield trio of Richard Clarke, Gary Dickson and Denver Lecky.

Opportunities remained at a premium with Carrick midfielder Aaron Harmon heading straight at Buchanan before Ben Roy, on the turn, fired well over from a Gibson knock-down.

It was Dergview though who continued to shade the verdict, visiting goalkeeper Deane pushing a spectacular free-kick by Higginbotham around his left post before the same player had a shot blocked after a mistimed attempted clearance by Conor McCloskey.

Fullback Dale Maxwell then had a close-range effort deflected agonisingly wide but it was the visitors who finished the half stronger with Buchanan acrobatically turning away a 25-yard pile-driver by Carrick attacker David Bell.

Rangers, too, enjoyed the best of the early exchanges in the second half however it was the hosts who struck with deadly effect on the counter attack just before the hour.

Right-back Philip Wallace intercepted a loose pass before releasing Gareth Sproule, who timed his run to perfection to scamper clear and lift the ball expertly over Deane.

Carrick duly upped the ante and should have levelled 10 minutes later when a Ryan Burns shot was deflected goalwards by Gibson, but Buchanan reacted brilliantly to make the stop.

The visitors continued to lay siege to the home goal and with seven minutes remaining they eventually conjured up an equaliser when centre-back Ciaran Donaghy's overhead kick deflected off the unfortunate Wallace and into the bottom left hand corner of Buchanan's net.

It was Dergview who had the better of the late opportunities and after Andy Sproule and Stephen Campbell both went close, it was Andy Sproule who ran half the length of the field to smash home a precious winner.


Lisburn Distillery 2 Loughgall 1

2014 started exactly as hoped for the men from New Grosvenor with a hard fought win against Loughgall, a side playing for the first time under recently appointed manager Brian Adair.

Before the game, supporters of Lisburn Distillery had been buoyed by the news of four new signings coming into the first team squad but as it turned out it was old boy Neil Alderdice who was to make the headlines, both good and bad, on the day.

The game got off to a perfect start for the hosts when, with only five minutes on the clock, impressive debutant Luke Wilson won a corner. It was subsequently floated in by Kris Pike and met by a static Loughgall defence, who allowed Alderdice to nip in and power a header past McConville.

Poor defending by the visitors from the set piece, but what must have frustrated new manager Adair even more would have been that lessons weren't learnt from the mistakes as only four minutes later an almost identical situation led to the Whites taking a two goal lead.

Another corner, this time taken by Chris Kingsberry, once again floated in, once again Alderdice on hand to nip in and power another header into the back of the net as the Loughgall defence looked on.

And so with less than 10 minutes on the clock, the game seemed as good as over. Indeed, it seemed that way right up to the half time break with few further chances to report in what was very much a game where each team cancelled the other out.

The second half started very much as the first half had finished with both sides going about their business in an almost lethargic way at times.

However, it was the visitors who were doing whatever pressing that was being done and indeed they had the best opportunity to add to the score sheet when, in the 58th minute, captain Steven Ferguson hit a sweetly struck shot from 20-yards out which cannoned off the home crossbar before being cleared to safety.

If anything, this should have served as a wake-up call for the home side but it was one they didn't heed as the visitors then did pull a goal back in the 67th minute. A well struck effort from Daniel Ryan soared over home 'keeper McBride to reduce the deficit to a single goal.

With only eight minutes remaining, the Whites were were given grounds for hope as first half hero Alderdice made a challenge which saw his second yellow lead to a red with the defender being sent off for the first time in his career.

So would this give the visitors the impetus they needed? Whites' manager Tommy Kincaid was going to take no chances and automatically responded by replacing Kingsberry with defender Stuart Thompson, although he had to wait almost five minutes before he could introduce him as the ball simply wouldn't go out of play.

Despite their chasing the game and having the man advantage, Loughgall were still struggling to break through a determined Lisburn Distillery defence.

Home manager Kincaid will have been delighted that they were restricted to one solitary chance during that last frantic 10 minutes, an effort in injury time from Ryan going harmlessly over the Distillery bar.


Championship Two

Banbridge Town 0 Queen’s University 2

Strength in depth is vitally important to maintain a challenge for league honours and so it was inevitable that with five regulars unavailable (Wilson, Waddell, Jones, Pedlow and Walsh) Town would struggle against talented Queens at Crystal Park on Saturday.

The players that came in did not let Town down and the home side (especially in the early stages) had several chances to score but in the end that was the difference —Queen’s took their chances and Town did not.

They had three new signings on the bench (Shannon Drainey, ex-Lurgan Celtic, Keith McVittie, ex-Ballinamallard/Seapatrick and Michael McAllister, returning for his second spell at Crystal Park).

The game was only two minutes old when a Mark Teggart cross found its way to Conor Downey, whose shot on the turn just whisked past the post. It was all Town pressure and Teggart was so unlucky not to score soon after when a reflex shot from a corner trickled wide off the post with 'keeper Declan Brown (ex- Donegal Celtic) beaten.

It wasn't long before Queen’s got their act together and several dangerous crosses fully stretched the Banbridge rearguard.

In the 20th minute, Mark Teggart got in behind the Queen’s defence to a Nathan Baird cross only to head narrowly past and Town were left to rue another missed chance.

Kevin Hagan then raced between two back tracking home defenders but saw his effort stopped by the foot of Town's Martin Buchanan. Both sides were cancelling each other out generally in a dour first half, although Mark Teggart should have done better when played through by a superb Mattie McCartan ball in the 35th minute.

The latter, with Damian McParland, was battling hard in the middle for Town but was tested in the extreme by the Queen’s pair Thompson and Hagan.

A long range effort from Allison sailed wide before a good Town move saw McCartan and Teggart combine before the latter's cross was just taken off the head of the dangerously positioned Steven O'Neill for a Town corner.

Conor Downey went closest to putting Banbridge ahead when his effort following the corner rattled the crossbar before being scrambled clear.

Just a minute before the break, Downey latched on to a McParland pass but came off second best in a one to one with 'keeper Brown.

The second period produced more open play than the first 45 minutes and Conor Downey sent in a curling shot which big 'keeper Brown safely held.

In the 56th minute, Queen’s hard-working Thompson volleyed inches over from 18-yards, while at the other end Town's Johnny Kernoghan raced on to a long clearance but was crowded out by some good covering when a goal looked on.

A goal was inevitable and it came to the visitors on the hour mark when Aaron Thompson drilled a brilliant 20-yard free-kick through Town's wall and into the corner past the diving Stephen Cairnduff.

Banbridge pushed Queen’s back in search of the equaliser and a fine Stephen Greene header was pushed out by Brown minutes later.

The 'keeper came to his side's rescue in the 75th minute when he blocked a Steven O'Neill piledriver after Martin Buchanan had found his No.9 with a flicked pass.

Seconds later, Town's leading goalscorer found the side netting after collecting a ball on the right side of the penalty box. However, Queen’s went 2 - 0 ahead in the 83rd minute.

It was Dromore man Daniel Culbert who broke Town hearts when he was first to react to a left wing corner to direct his header to the net.

Banbridge fought to the end and it looked as if they were back in the game in the 85th minute when substitute Neil Watson sent a great drive from way out on the left over a depairing Declan Brown and into the roof of the net.

However, the referee ruled it out to Town's great disappointment. It just wasn't Town's day and Steven O'Neill had another good chance blocked by Brown as the home side fought to the finish.

This Saturday (January 11) is Irish Cup fifth Round Day and Town make the journey to Ballymoney United (Kick-Off 3.00p.m.) The Supporters Club will be running their usual Bus so contact Terry Sweeney (Tel: 07970275154) for travel details.

Banbridge Town Members will be aware of recent Media speculation that Banbridge Rangers F.C. will be playing at the Crystal Park Complex from August 2014. Chairman Andrew Cully has made it known that NO CLUB has approached him regarding the use of Town's facilities at Crystal Park for next season.


Killymoon Rangers 2-4 Sport & Leisure Swifts

A hat-trick from Gallagher helped Sport & Lesuire Swifts come away with all three points at a cold Mid Ulster Sports Arena on Saturday afternoon at the expense of Killymoon Rangers.

The visitors had the first attempt on goal within seconds, but Cunningham's free-kick sailed wide of the mark.

Straight up the other end, good link up play between Donaghy and Young enabled the latter to fire a shot on goal but much like Cunningham a few minutes before, it sailed wide of Nugent's goal.

Young saw a perfectly flighted free-kick find Neill at the far post soon after but thankfully for the visitors the linesman's flag was raised.

McElhatton fired a quick free-kick which caught the visiting defence napping, but Nugent was able to get to the ball before Donaghy.

Donaghy was next to have a go for the home side after the referee played great advantage for a foul on Kelly, but his effort went over the cross bar.

Lindsay's corner was eventually cleared and the homeside nearly took advantage on the counter attack with Young, Hunter and Donaghy all linking up well but Nugent was alert to the danger.

The home side took the lead after the 10 minute mark. Young's free-kick powered through the wall to give Nugent no change in the Swift's goal.

Up the other end almost immediately, Cunningham got on the end of a Gallagher flick on to unleash a volley on goal but it sailed high and wide. That same player tried his luck from a free-kick moments later but it was comfortably seen wide by Stewart in the Killymoon goal.

O'Neill saw a tame left footed effort saved before he put in a great cross for Gallagher's strike partner Daly, but thankfully for Killymoon it was an air shot and the danger was dealt with.

Sport & Lesuire were sloppy from a throw in and the home side claimed the ball back with Young firing in a half volley from distance but it sailed wide of the mark.

The visitors were nearly through on goal but for good defending from Neill at the back making a last ditch challenge.

Greer saw a thunderous volley blocked by Quinn and from the resulting corner Donaghy got on the end of Young's whipped corner but Nugent saw the ball go wide.

Cunningham again tried his luck with a free-kick but it sailed straight into the arms of Stewart. A lovely cross field ball from Donaghy found its way to Young, but he wasn't able to find space and the visiting defence dealt with the danger.

Close forced Stewart into a fine punch away from a free-kick before Donaghy got on the end of a Greer layoff but his shot sailed over the bar.

The home side started the second half the brighter with Donaghy getting on the end of Scott cross but his effort was wide.

Moments later, Leslie showed great skill to beat his man before unleashing an effort from range but his effort was over the bar.

Lindsay had the visitors’ first meaningful attempt in the second half, forcing the home keeper into a smart stop and the same players resulting corner was eventually cleared.

An insane five minute period on the hour mark saw the visitors take the lead only for the home side to peg them back. First, the home side where caught napping at the back before substitute Flanagan, unmarked, unleashed a thunderous volley home.

A minute later, Gallagher scored his first after linking up well with Dolan to slot the ball past the helpless Stewart. The visitors’ celebrations where short lived however, as Greer pounced on a bad mistake from the visiting ‘keeper to slot home the equaliser.

Stewart had to punch away a dangerous ball into the box before the home side had the ball in the back of the net again.

Great play by Coyle on the left hand side put in a cross for Donaghy to slot the ball home. However, he used his arm and the goal was chalked off.

That's good as it got for the home side as Gallagher unleashed a thunderous volley from range, which gave Stewart no chance before he completed his hat-trick with nine minutes to go after getting on the end of a Lindsay corner to seal all three points.

Subsitute Kelly drilled a low dangerous ball into the area but the visiting defence dealt with the danger well.


Lurgan Celtic 3 Glebe Rangers 2

Lurgan Celtic made a winning start to the New Year with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Glebe Rangers.

With new signings Niall Lavery, Decky McVeigh and Conor Forker all making their debuts, it was a much-changed side to last week’s and with Conor Hagan to come back in after an injury, squad depth is definitely improving.

With Forker and David Magee playing in advance of top scorer Fitzpatrick, it was up to the captain to win possession in midfield and from the outset he won lots of balls in the air despite being up against much taller defenders.

Indeed, in the fifth minute, his header found the lively Forker who turned and fired an early warning just over the bar.

The heavy pitch made it very difficult for both sides to play any passing football but both battled through. It was the home side who were creating the better chances, with the constant movement of Forker up front troubling the away defenders all game and the direct running of Magee giving Celtic a cutting edge.

In the 15th minute, the strong running of McVeigh from right-back resulted in a dangerous ball being played across the front of goal, but somehow it evaded the strikers.

Again, it was Forker in the 22nd minute who had a volley blaze over but it was clear he would find the target soon. In the 28th minute, he did from another volley after some fine build up play this time gave the keeper no chance.

Shortly after the goal Magee, who was having a fine game, was forced off through injury and was replaced by Campbell, who went into midfield and captain Fitzpatrick then reverted to his more familiar role up front.

Jason Rodgers in midfield was showing up well with some breaks from deep and in the 43rd minute his brilliant through ball found McVeigh, but again his teasing cross just missed the Celtic forwards to send the teams in at half time with the one goal margin.

The second half began with Glebe pressing more and they had their best chance so far in the 52nd minute when they somehow managed to miss the target from close range.

This miss from the away side proved costly when minutes later, Forker broke down the left and held off the challenge of the defender to swing over a cross which was met by Fitzpatrick, who powered home a header to the top corner.

Having been moved to a more advanced role, Fitzpatrick was causing all sorts of problems for the Glebe defence and had another glorious chance in the 59th minute, but after beating two players his tame shot was easily saved.

Glebe then reduced the score in the 63rd minute when a free-kick from the right found their winger, who was unmarked and he easily headed home.

Despite conceding, Celtic regained control of the game and added to their goals in the 65th minute when that man again Fitzpatrick struck.

It was Rodgers who won the ball in midfield and he fed the big striker, who side-stepped the tackles and rifled home a left foot strike from outside the box that gave the ‘keeper no chance.

Having restored their two goal advantage, Celtic possibly should have increased their advantage as they had many long range efforts, but none troubled the ‘keeper. They had to endure a nervous last few minutes when Glebe converted a penalty in the 88th minute after some holding in the area.

The home side remained in control to see out the injury time to gain three points to move up one place in the league. Next up for the Hoops is the long journey to face Portstewart next week.


Moyola Park 4 Chimney Corner 0

Moyola Park bounced back from a disappointing penalty shoot out defeat in the Craig Memorial Cup Final at the hands of Johnny Law's Coleraine Reserves to open 2014 with a resounding 4-0 victory in the NIFL Championship Two against Chimney Corner at Mill Meadow.

The visitors started enthusiastically with Ciaran Ryan testing the Moyola Park defence, which captain Steven McQuillan marshalled with his usual aplomb.

It was somewhat against the run of play when Michael Walsh slipped the ball through to Darren Walls, who beat Corner's 'keeper Jonathan Norwood from a tight angle.

Steven Kenning doubled Moyola Park's advantage in the 19th minute when he found the net following a strong run and cross from the left by Walls.

Mark McCullough fired over the Moyola Park crossbar four minutes later. On the half hour mark, Chris Dowie brought out the best in Norwood as the latter finger tipped a goal bound strike over his crossbar.

Nine minutes before the half time interval, Dowie rattled Norwood's net with Walls again providing the opening.

Walls was once again a thorn in the side of the Antrim men's defence when he provided the pass which led to Sean McConnell heading past Norwood at his left hand goalpost.

Dowie had an excellent opportunity to add a fifth goal for Moyola Park two minutes into the second half, but when through one on one with Norwood, he drove the ball wide of an upright.

The home side continued to control the game and only a Dominik Luzynczyk effort which he sent a foot over the crossbar threatened Marty Farniok's goal during the second half.

Steven Kenning came close to doubling his tally, but following a good run his shot went wide of Norwood's goal.

Mervyn Pattison's men earned three points which saw them climb to 10th place in the NIFL Championship Two league table, leap frogging both Chimney Corner and near neighbours Tobermore United.

 Next up for Moyola Park is an IFA Challenge Cup Fifth Round tie against Dungannon Swifts at Mill Meadow on Saturday, January 11 with a 3.00pm kick off. Saturday, January 18 brings Banbridge Town as visitors for an NIFL Championship Two fixture.

Newington YC 1 Annagh United 1

Newington introduced a new ‘keeper in McGill, and he produced a fine debut performance, denying Annagh on numerous occasions in the first 15 minutes.

Annagh were getting a lot of crosses in from the right wing and only for Adams and Manning holding firm, and the exploits of McGill, the game remained scoreless.

Yet another Annagh attack from the right wing saw a perfect cross into the Newington box and the forward meeting the ball with a perfect header, but somehow he managed to put it over the bar with the goal begging.

It was all one way traffic until the 30th minute, when Newington had their first attempt on goal, with a shot by Smyth just over the bar.

This seemed to inspire Newington, and when McFall was taken down some 25-yards from goal, it gave Quinn the opportunity for a free-kick, but again the shot was over the bar.

This proved temporary reprieve for Newington, as towards the end of the first half, a quick break by Annagh saw them miss another glorious chance to go one up.

McCarthy must have read the riot act at half time as his team started the second half on the front foot, with Smyth again making the keeper work when he saved a shot from inside the box.

Conal Burns and Quinn were starting to get more possession and looked threatening up front, with Burns coming closest after a dazzling run only for his shot to be saved.

The tables turned quickly again and Annagh were breaking at will, and should have scored in the 50th minute when they had a shot saved on the line by McFall.

The deadlock was broken soon afterwards when a shot was saved by McGill, only for the rebound to be slotted home.

McCarthy started to ring in the changes with Brennan and Magee replacing McAuley and Smyth.

Another free-kick by Quinn shaved the upright. The last throw of the dice saw McMenain replace Kane in the 75th minute.

Newington seemed to up their game and they were awarded a corner, which was floated in perfectly to the box and met by Manning, who headed home from close range.

Newington seemed like a different team and it was they who kept up the pressure on Annagh until the final whistle.


PSNI 3 Portstewart 2

Despite heavy rainfall over the preceding days, the Newforge pitch was in its usual excellent condition. The pipe and drainage system definitely pays dividends.

Two different styles of play were on display, the PSNI playing their usual short passing and making in-roads on the Portstewart defence, but unable to create any clear chances.

Portstewart appeared to favour the long ball, by-passing the PSNI midfield, and using the height and strength of their attackers to full advantage.

They were unable to penetrate the defence until the 18th minute, when the PSNI were outnumbered in their own 18-yard box. A cross from the right went from one Portstewart head to the other and their big number ninr, Ian Todd, picked his spot and headed the visitors into the lead.

In the 32nd minute, that lead was doubled when Noel Anderson pulled at a Portstewart shirt and the referee awarded a penalty. James Pedan made no mistake from the spot.

Despite having the majority of the play in midfield, the PSNI could not take advantage and it looked like an uphill battle in the second half.

However, within the space of three minutes, the PSNIhad drawn level, first from Peter Steele, who received the perfect ball from Ashton McDermott. He chipped the oncoming Josh Madison before J B Dobbin buried the ball in the bottom right of the Portstewart net with a powerful drive from 20-yards. The PSNI went into the break on level terms.

The second half mirrored the first without any real scoring opportunities.

Then, manager Gavin Arthur made his substitutions, and brought on two strikers, Lukasz Adamczyk and new signing Darren Bell. Almost immediately, the PSNI were creating chance after chance and it was no surprise when McDermott's well-driven shot rebounded of the post and fell at feet of Steel, who made no mistake.

Madison was tested by Bell (who impressed on his debut), and he prevented Steele from getting his hat-trick.


Tobermore United 1 Armagh City 2

A blistering start from the visitors saw them take a two goal lead in the opening 15 minutes with goals from Matthew Hynds and Gareth Grimley.

At that stage, Armagh were well on top but their lead was halved midway through the half when Trevor Parkhill latched onto a fine cross to fire home on the half volley.

The visitors had a couple of good chances before the interval, but failed to add to their lead.

The second half saw the home side put the visitors defence under a lot more pressure, but they held firm.

The best chance to level came when a Parkhill slot was blocked for a corner just when it looked as if he was about to find the City net.

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