Belfast Telegraph

Championship round-up October 26

Round-up of action from Championship One & Two:

Championship One:

Limavady United 1 Lisburn Distillery 0

What a difference a week makes. Limavady, under new management, gained their first league win on Saturday with a late goal from Cathair Friel, but it was a game more about character than good football. New boss Neil Mullan promised there would be more fighting spirit as the team sought to banish memories of last week's horror show, and although the home side probably rode their luck at times, there is no doubt they were overdue some good fortune.

The visitors created the vast majority of the chances, but wasteful finishing, and heroic defending, notably from Ryan Mullan and McClelland, meant they had only themselves to blame for failing to take the points.

United had the first chance, a scuffed shot from Lee Harkin outside the box in the 10th minute. But the Whites hit back, first with a chip that flew over the bar, then a free header from Tweedie that McGraw clawed out from the goal line, unaware that it had been flagged offside, and finally Morton's snapshot that flashed past the post and the static McGraw.

Straight away, the keeper fed Logue, who passed to Friel, and the winger raced into the box, but although he did well to chip McBride, his effort went just wide.

In the 20th minute, McGraw produced another good instinctive save and Pike blazed the rebound over.

Next minute, Aaron Mullan hacked the ball off the goal- line from a close range cutback. Next, Withers had a curling effort that went close. There were no more chances until Tweedie had a dipping effort from distance in the 38th minute.

The home side had been clinging on, but had a glorious chance to break the deadlock two minutes later, when a long throw fell invitingly for an unmarked Friel in the six-yard box, but he smacked his effort off the crossbar with the goal at his mercy.

The second half saw Distillery continue to dominate the ball, but although United were pinned back, McGraw was coping with everything thrown at him.

First, he comfortably gathered Kingsbury's long range effort on 53 minutes, and then gathered another long range effort at the second attempt a minute later.

United's McGregor had a weak shot to relieve the pressure in the 56th minute. But almost immediately, Kingsbury missed a great chance when he shot well wide.

Distillery went even closer in the 59th minute, when the home defence was split and a wicked low cross was brilliantly turned over his own bar by Burke from point-blank range.

In the 74th minute, the turning point in the game arrived. Distillery were laying siege to the home goal, and only an instinctive block by McGraw prevented a certain goal, but as the play was stretched, the ball broke upfield to Friel, who won his race with the last man to be through on goal, and he kept his nerve to slip the ball past the advancing McBride. They could have doubled their lead a minute later, when Heaney was set up by Logue's delightful pass, but his effort was well saved.

There was late drama in the 86th minute, when Thompson went down in the box under McClelland's challenge, but he was booked for diving, and as he had already been cautioned, was sent off. United had a late chance to make the game safe, when Friel had an identical breakaway effort to his goal, but this time McBride was able to smother the ball. However, the referee blew for full time before Distillery could mount another attack, and the Roesiders claimed three precious points.


Ballyclare Comrades 4 Larne 0

The first half of this local derby was a feisty yet entertaining affair, with both sides having chances and dishing out a few physical challenges. The woodwork had been rattled at either end before the visitors were reduced to ten men in the 34th minute, when Robbie-Lee Crawford was sent off for dissent after a melee involving a number of players.

The first period had an explosive finish. Firstly, Comrades took the lead in the 44th minute when Ricky Higgins knocked the ball in from five yards after being set up by player-coach Stuart McClean. However, a minute later, McClean got his marching orders from the referee after a crunching tackle just inside the Larne half.

A minute into first half injury time, Chris Trussell put his side 2-0 up with a finish past the out-rushing keeper from 13 yards, after Larne had been caught out by a quick throw in.

Comrades maintained their dominance in the second half, and on the hour increased the lead further, when Gerard McAlea converted a penalty, awarded for a hand-ball offence.

The home side were reduced to nine men in the 70th minute when captain Andrew Doyle was sent off for a second yellow having knocked the ball away rather innocuously.

Comrades' comprehensive win was completed three minutes into injury time, when substitute Adam Gray scored a fine individual goal after running from deep in his own half, beating three opponents and sliding the ball home from 12 yards


Championship Two:

Banbridge Town 3 Ballymoney United 0

It is widely acknowledged that to compete for league honours it is imperative to win your home games, and in this respect, Ryan Watson's Banbridge Town could not be asked to do anything more, as they retained their 100% home record this season with an emphatic 3-0 win over a strong Ballymoney Utd side at Crystal Park on Saturday.

It says a lot for this Town side that they were able to put behind them last week's disappointing result at Newington and produce a performance which was as near to flawless as it gets.

Strong at the back, creative, energetic and dominant in midfield, and lethal up front, they rarely looked like losing the game and added three more valuable points to  their already impressive tally.

They made a promising start in treacherous underfoot conditions. with Damian McParland and Adam Pedlow looking good down the left with a couple of dangerous forays into the Ballymoney area.

They forced a couple of early corners from which Steven O'Neill headed wide and Johnny Kernoghan chipped just over the bar.

Adam Pedlow forced a fine save from Ballymoney keeper Bryan Moore, but presented the visitors with their first real chance after he got himself dispossessed 20 yards from his own goal.

However, his ever-alert defence cleared the danger as Ballymoney's McAuley lurked.

The Braid men had worked their way into the game, threatening with a few surges on the home goal.

It was then that the Town rearguard came to the fore, with McParland and Waddell especially dominant.

In the 17th minute, the hardworking Stephen Jones won the ball and found Mattie McCartan in space. Mattie, who had his best game in a Town jersey for some time, in turn threaded a ball through to Gary Boyle and the big striker made no mistake to put Banbridge 1-0 in front.

For Boyle, making a rare start for Town, this would have been the perfect way to build on confidence.

Ballymoney quickly counter-attacked and Gillan's inviting cross into Town's box only needed a touch, which fortunately for the homesters, didn't come.

In the 25th minute, Boyle got his head to a Kernoghan cross but was narrowly off target.

Jones, McCartan and Pedlow combined in a great move shortly afterwards, which the visitors cleared at full stretch.

It was a joy to watch some of Town's movement in midfield, and after 30 minutes, Johnny Kernoghan fired a 22- yard volley straight at Moore.

However, Ballymoney remained threatening, and only a magnificent save from Stephen Cairnduff minutes later prevented an equaliser.

Declan McGarry raced goalwards and fired a goal-bound effort, only for the Town custodian to stretch and tip his volley onto the bar and away for a fruitless corner.

Great covering from Glen Waddell after 38 minutes stopped another dangerous situation, after McAuley had got the better of Martin Buchanan in front of goal.

The game was still in the melting pot as the teams trooped off at half time, but Banbridge got the perfect start to the second period with a well-taken Steven O'Neill goal to put the homesters 2-0 ahead.

A lovely left wing cross from Adam Pedlow in the 48th minute was met by the head of Stephen Greene.

However, Ballymoney keeper Moore saved his point- blank header only to see O'Neill follow up to plant the ball into the corner for his 10th goal of the season.

The visitors did not give up the fight as they saw their fivematch winning streak coming to an end.

McGarry saw an effort end up in the side-netting and Gillan had a long-range shot whistle past the upright after 59 minutes.

Three minutes later, and Town had stretched into a 3-0 lead with a wonderful finish from Adam Pedlow.

The latter ghosted behind the Ballymoney rearguard to pick up a great through-ball from Glen Waddell and first-timed a neat volley into the bottom corner.

Still the Co Antrim men wouldn't throw in the towel and exerted some pressure on Town's goal.

It took a super blocking save from Cairnduff and a great Buchanan clearance to prevent the visitors from reducing the arrears.

Steven O'Neill was unlucky not to increase Town's lead when he latched onto a good Mattie McCartan pass after 68 minutes.

Ballymoney sub Higgins brought the best out of Cairnduff two minutes later, and McKinley fired over two minutes later after racing through.

It was Town who came closest to scoring again as the game neared its end, with Kernoghan chipping over the Ballymoney rearguard to O'Neill, who was millimetres over with his effort.

Sub Conor Downey was just the wrong side of the upright after a strong run and shot in the 87th minute.

A great victory for Town, which takes them within one point of league leaders Armagh City.

The dream continues. Congratulations to Stephen Jones, who is September's player of the month, and a big thank you to all supporters who voted online.

Next Saturday, Banbridge Town face Dollingstown in the second round of the Mid Ulster Cup at Crystal Park. Kick-off 2pm.

This game will be played to a finish, with extra time and penalties if required. Dollingstown are unbeaten in Mid Ulster Intermediate A this season and with several ex-Town players in their ranks, including manager Gary Duke, will provide formidable opposition.


Moyola Park 0 Wakehurst 0

A controversial decision midway through the first half changed the pattern of the game.

Eugene Gallagher was shown two yellow cards and a subsequent red in quick succession for alleged dissent as Wakehurst prepared to take a free kick some 30 yards from Marty Farniok's goal.

Up to that point, the teams were evenly matched, but for most of the remainder of the game, the Moyola Park midfield and defence came under heavy pressure.

A break on the left by Darren Walls and a resultant inviting cross into the Wakehurst penalty area was not anticipated and a good chance went  begging.

Minutes later, Ryan Young made a good run on the Wakehurst left and his cross/shot was only stopped by Farniok at the second attempt.

Ten minutes before the half time interval, Walls broke free of the visitors' defence but Macauley Cairns in the Wakehurst goal blocked his shot.

A few minutes later, a Conor Gregg rasping drive was deflected by Farniok, with the assistance of his left hand upright, for a corner.

Wakehurst started the second half at a frenetic pace, and in one attack, a timely tackle by Steven McQuillan prevented Jason Paul getting a shot on goal from 10 yards.

Shortly afterwards, Farniok made a good save from Paul. A Wall's run down the left wing ended with the ball stopping just short of the Wakehurst goal-line, as the ball deflected off Cairns.

Conor Gregg continued to test the home defence as the second half progressed.

Two of his free kicks went narrowly over the home crossbar, and in the dying minutes of the game, Farniok came out to save at his feet.

Substitute Lee McCaughen also brought an excellent save from Farniok.

The Moyola Park defence held firm to the final whistle, and in doing so, gained a hard- earned point, but for Wakehurst, enjoying a one-man advantage for all of 70 minutes, it was a case of two points lost.

Moyola Park travel to Portstewart on Saturday, November 2, for a Championship Two fixture with a 2pm kick-off.

On the same date, also in Championship Two, Wakehurst entertain PSNI at Mill Meadow, kick-off 3pm.

Moyola Park's next home game is a Championship Two match against Annagh United on Saturday, November 9, at 2pm.


Portstewart 4 Armagh City 1

Portstewart haven't had much luck in front of goal in their last two home games.

But on Saturday, it all came together and they shocked the league leaders with a four-goal salvo.

Armagh had the ball in the net after six minutes, but it was disallowed for an infringement.

They produced a nice two- pass move from deep in their half which ended with Murray shooting wide of the goal in the 35th minute.

Portstewart took the lead in the 41st minute, when McAllister's free kick was headed out, but Turner volleyed the ball into the bottom corner of the net.

They increased their lead in the 54th minute when Dunlop took a long throw and Doherty headed in at the far post.

Madison produced an excellent save on the hour to keep the Seasiders’ lead intact, then Peden made it three with a well struck free kick from distance.

The fourth came from the penalty spot after Moody was brought down inside the area. Dunlop stroked the ball home.

Armagh scored a consolation goal from Noonan when he shot home following a corner. Armagh played some fine football in the match, but were unable to break down a dogged Ports defence well- marshalled by Neill.


Glebe Rangers 1 Newington  YC 1

Glebe Rangers entertained Newington as they attempted to continue their recent improved form at the Joey Dunlop Centre on Saturday, and they managed to pick up a point in a hard-fought encounter which saw one red card for the visitors.

In an action-packed opening, Dee Heaney saw yellow after 30 seconds for a high challenge.

However, no-one from Glebe was able to take advantage of Elder's free kick.

The visitors hit back two minutes later when Jadaezcwik turned inside the box.

Kane got a hand to the shot, but Sean McAuley was on hand to drive home the rebound and put Newington in front.

However, Glebe only took five minutes to draw level, when centre-back Shepherd forced Elder's corner past Smyth.

Newington settled into a neat, passing game, and Jadaezcwik again drew a fine save from Kane with a low effort in the 17th minute.

Glebe also had their chances, and Wilkinson's long-range effort skimmed the top of the crossbar, before a combination of Smyth and Cahill denied Peter Kennoway.

The half ended as it began — with a flurry of action. 

Firstly, a brilliant point-blank stop by Kane prevented Walsh from putting his team back in front, and Shepherd cleared with Jadaezcwik waiting to pounce.

Then, on the stroke of half time, referee Ferguson showed Michael Smyth a red card for what appeared to be dissent.

Newington made three substitutions at the start of the second period, but it was Glebe who had the first attempt as Wilkinson fired over after Elder's corner had eluded everyone.

Quinn then replicated Wilkinson when he was unable to find the target from a cross by McAuley.

 Although Glebe had a one- man advantage, Newington enjoyed the majority of possession in the second half without managing to create any clear-cut chances.

In fact, the two best opportunities fell to the home side, and both arrived in the last five minutes.

In the 85th minute, Smith produced a great stop from dangerman Wilkinson and, a minute later, Kennoway's header was cleared off the line by Quinn.

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