Down Area Winter Football League round-up, February 28
It has come to that time in the season where one bad result could provide a fatal blow for any side fighting for the title, just like three points gained could be the difference between some of the struggling clubs staying in the division or facing relegation.
It is a tense and nervy time of year, however, as the heavens opened on Saturday and the players got thoroughly drenched, it was clear that the teams of the DAWFL aren't quite ready to see out the remainder of the season at a canter.
There were 43 goals in the six Premier Division games alone, so where better to begin than at league leaders Greenwell Star? They took an Oakfield Breda side who were unbeaten in seven games entering the fixture, knowing that their title credentials would be fully tested. The game proved to be one of the most competitive of the weekend, but Greenwell's pedigree shone through and they came away with the three points after a 4-2 victory.
Second-placed Brentwood made the long drive to Henry Jones Playing Fields to take on 8th OB, and the gulf in class was evident from the outset. 8th have only recently secured their place in the division for another year, while Brentwood have been fighting it out at the top for quite some time. The game ended in a 6-0 away win and, with one game in hand, Brentwood know that the title is still very much theirs to lose.
Moat Park's season may have proved to be a disappointment, given their heroics last year, however, with a 6-2 win over Comber Star, they have shown that, on their day, they still have too much quality for most sides in the division to handle.
Comber Young Men keep hold of third place after their 4-2 win at Abbey Villa III, Ravenhill YM climb to fifth with a 4-2 win over Willowfield Parish and, despite taking an early lead, Vision Athletic lost 8-3 to Corrymeela.
Division One leaders Bangor Rangers III lost 4-2 at home to 82nd, second-placed Newtown Forest lost 5-2 at Bryansburn Rangers III and third-placed 3rd Bangor OB were held to a 2-2 draw by Bangor Swifts III. With six games in hand, 3rd Bangor OB seem almost certain to win the division, however, the race for the final promotion spot could not be closer. Newtown Forest and Bangor Rangers III are separated only by goal difference, which makes this coming weekend's head-to-head clash one of the biggest games in either club's history.
In the second tier's remaining fixtures, Stranmillis 37th OB defeated Ards Rangers III 3-2, Ballygowan narrowly defeated Bangor YM III 5-4 and 43rd were held 1-1 by Queen's Graduates III.
There were some heavy defeats in Division 2A, with Greenwell Star II keeping their promotion push on track with a 5-0 win over Vision Athletic II, Corrymeela II defeating Newtown Forest II 3-0 and 3rd Bangor OB II claiming a 4-0 away win at Brentwood II. Comber YM II's 3-1 win at Bryansburn Rangers IV could prove pivotal in their efforts to avoid the drop, while Ravenhill YM II drew 2-2 with 43rd OB II.
Rounding off this week's fixtures with Division 2B. Stranmillis 37th OB II defeated Abbey Villa IV 2-0, 82nd II were 4-1 winners in their game against 8th OB II and Agapé II battled to a 2-1 victory over Oakfield Breda II. Comber Star II keep their place at the top of the bottom tier, with a 3-0 win over Queen's Graduates IV.
Belfast Telegraph Digital