Championship round-ups, April 12
Loughgall 6 Ballyclare Comrades 4
Loughgall were yet again involved in another high scoring thriller at Lakeview Park, but this time came out the victors with a 6-4 win over Ballyclare Comrades.
James Costello, Justin Bradley, Ryan Moffett, David Cully and Mark Carson got the goals as the Villagers came back from 3-1 down in the first half to grab the three points.
Loughgall responded from an early opener by Ballyclare striker Trussell with a goal of their own after Justin Bradley finished with a good strike from the right hand side of the box to level scores at 1-1.
Two more goals from Trussell and McGowan moved Ballyclare into a commanding 3-1 lead, but Loughgall got another goal back just before half-time as Ryan Moffett's corner went in via the Comrades keeper.
Two goals from James Costello around the hour mark, along with a sending off for Ballyclare Comrades, changed the game as Loughgall went into the lead for the first time and never looked back.
A flurry of goals in the last five minutes put Loughgall 6-3 up - a David Cully header from a corner and a Mark Carson strike - before a goal from Agnew for Ballyclare deep into injury time ensured the game finished 6-4.
Lurgan Celtic 0 Armagh City 1
Celtic took the field minus four players due to injury and suspension, but showed a steely determination against Armagh, who went top due to this victory.
The first half saw the defence from both sides on top, keeping the respective forwards at bay and although nine places separate the sides, Celtic didn't look like a side at the bottom regions of the table with McVeigh and McCabe showing up well for the home side.
The second half saw the game open up more but neither keeper had a goalbound shot to save, although Malone came close for Celtic.
The stalemate was broken when a break by Armagh saw a shot go harmlessly across goal, but the ball hit Coleman and and went back towards goal for Donnelly to score from two feet.
Near the end, Fitzpatrick was given a yellow for kicking the ball away and when he remonstrated to the referee Mervyn Smith, the official produced a straight red card, leaving the home side to finish with 10 men
Banbridge Town 2 v Newington Y.C. 1
Former Amateur League kingpins Newington Y.C. (famed for their historic Irish Cup victory over mighty Glentoran a few seasons ago) made their first ever visit to Crystal Park on Saturday for a N.I.F.L. Championship Two league clash.
Having recorded a 2-0 win over Town at Seaview (they groundshare with Crusaders) earlier in the season, the fifth-placed north Belfast men were in a bullish mood and confident of completing the double over struggling Banbridge Town.
Welcoming back Dee McParland (although exam-tied Stephen Jones missed out), Ryan Watson assured supporters that Town would end their rut of hard luck stories sooner rather than later, and indeed they turned in a great second half performance which was equal to any of their terrific early season displays.
Playing with the aid of a strong wind, Newington were soon in the driving seat and Walsh sent McGovern racing down the right for the latter to cross slightly on the heavy side, much to Town's relief.
The visitors were creating the early chances and McGovern shot wide on 12 minutes after a good move involving Manning and ex-Crusaders star Gilgunn. The latter was close with a header from 10 yards after getting on the end of a Neal Quinn freekick.
Banbridge were fighting to stop the Newington momentum and Mark Teggart was first on target with a long range effort, which keeper Smyth held comfortably. Minutes later, it looked as if Newington would take the lead when Rafferty bore down on goal but a great covering tackle from Nathan Baird stopped the striker in his tracks.
Stephen Greene bravely got his body in the way of a Quinn thunderbolt on 27 minutes but two minutes later, Town were rocked when the referee awarded a penalty against Greene when a Newington forward fell in the area and up stepped Rafferty to blast past Cairnduff to put the visitors 1-0 ahead.
However, on the half-hour it took two magnificent bits of defending to prevent Town from going further behind. The impressive Walsh skipped past Nathan Baird and fired a rocket which seemed destined for the net. However, keeper Cairnduff had other ideas and bent backwards to claw the ball from under the bar with the alert James Wilson hooking the ball clear out of the danger area.
This was to be a turning point in the game and Town were becoming more confident. None more so than diminutive winger Johnny Kernoghan, who roused the home support with an equaliser after 34 minutes.
Gathering the ball some 35 yards from goal, and with the Newington defence expecting him to pass to a team-mate, he smashed a volley into the corner of the net past an off-guard Smyth.
It was just the boost Town needed and although Burns went close for Newington on 41 minutes after good build up play from Walsh and Quinn, it was Town who went in at half-time happier on a 1-1 scoreline.
With their new found confidence and playing with the aid of the strong wind, Banbridge began for the first time to take the game to Newington and when Downey and Kernoghan combined on 53 minutes, the latter rode a tackle and fired across an open net but unfortunately for Town no-one was on hand to finish.
It was nip and tuck now and as the game wore on, it became obvious the next goal could well decide the contest.
Walsh slipped past two Town players in a dangerous Newington raid but once again Nathan Baird came to the rescue with a timely tackle.
On 61 minutes, a scintillating Conor Downey run, which was all of 60 yards, stretched the visitor’s rearguard. Ryan Watson had switched wingers Teggart and Kernoghan and this move was beginning to pay dividends.
Their fightback was complete when after 70 minutes they took a 2-1 lead. Mark Teggart began the move and sent Johnny Kernoghan racing behind the visitor's defence with an angled pass.
The latter did really well to pick out the unmarked Conor Downey, who shot past Smyth for his first goal since February 1.
This was more like the Downey of old and augers well for himself and Town for the remainder of the season. However, it was a nervy last 20 minutes for the home side as Newington threw everything at them.
Substitute McKeating headed wide after beating the Town defence to a right wing cross after 75 minutes and Stephen Cairnduff was Town's hero on 82 minutes with a flying save to turn a goal-bound header over the bar.
Newington had another chance to equalise just before full-time when they were awarded a freekick on the edge of the box, but their effort was charged down and cleared by a determined Town rear-guard, in which substitute Michael Ferguson (after replacing the injured Nathan Baird) fitted in perfectly.
Three welcome points and a boost for Ryan's depleted squad as they go into the latter stages of the league.
This Saturday (April 19) Town travel to Allen Park to face Chimney Corner, while two days later (Easter Monday, April 21) they are again on their travels when they face Ballymoney United.
Both games have a 3pm kick-off. Town’s next home fixture is Saturday April 26 when Tobermore United will visit Crystal Park (kick-off 3pm).
Sport& Leisure Swifts 1 Glebe Rangers 3
Sport and Leisure knew this was a vital game and had prepared really well with new manager Packy McAllister.
All the hard graft was undone within five minutes when sloppy defensive work allowed Ian Christie to slot the ball under Nugent, the Leisure keeper.
Leisure gradually worked their way back into the game and were starting to get on top when the killer second goal arrived for Glebe via the penalty spot. David McVicker slotted the spot kick home and Glebe went into half time 2-0 up.
Leisure responded well in the second half with substitutes Mairs and Brady adding something different to the game. Neil Corr scored early in the half to bring Leisure into the game but Nicholl finished to put the game out of Leisure's reach.
Belfast Telegraph Digital