NIFL Championship round-up, March 19
All the latest from Championship One and Two:
Ards 2 Donegal Celtic 1
Celtic attacked from the off, and took an unexpected lead when Thomas Conlon skipped away from a Denver Gage lunge and fired past Ryan Brown from 20 yards. Dee McAllister was tormenting the Celtic defence, and it was no surprise when he set up Albert McCombe to level the affair on 23 minutes. Ross Arthurs put Ards ahead in the 44th minute, when he strode through the static defence and coolly slotted the ball home. McCombe had a goal ruled out for offside, and Buckly and Brown were denied by the Celtic keeper as Ards upped the pace. Celtic would not lie down and Brown saved bravely at Conlon's feet, but Ards held out, and remain five points clear at the top of Championship One.
Ballyclare Comrades 4 Lisburn Distillery 1
After a scoreless first half, in which the home side had what chances there were, the game burst into life with a flurry of goals at the start of the second period. Inside the first minute of the half, the visitors grabbed the lead, when a Lee Chapman cross-shot from 22 yards out on the right, flew into the top corner of the net over the helpless goalkeeper. Distillery’s lead didn’t last long, as in the 48th minute, Comrades were back on level terms, with Gary Brown drilling a low shot just inside the far post from 12 yards. A minute later, the home side hit the front as Jason Johnston got his head bravely to a cross and looped a header in from six yards. Then, on 53 minutes it was 3-1, with Stuart McCullough beating the keeper to the ball and stabbing it home from four yards. The scoring was completed on 72 minutes, when a good counter-attack ended with Michael O’Hanlon clipping the ball over the advancing keeper and into the net to secure the points.
Institute 2 Armagh City 0
Armagh goalkeeper Sean Morgan kept his side in contention with three early saves and City were denied when Jordan Bell saw his 20-yard strike hit the post and Stefan Lavery’s follow-up effort was ruled out for offside. Right on the stroke of half-time, Stute had another super chance but Grace’s header was cleared off the line by Sean Mallon. Armagh started the second half on the front foot, and they would have broken the deadlock but for another super save by Gallagher. Institute broke the deadlock on 71 minutes. Roddy’s left winger corner found an in-rushing O'Donnell, who made no mistake heading home from close range. Stute doubled their lead on 78 minutes from a goalmouth scramble which saw Morgan keep out Michael McCrudden’s close range strike, the ball was parried straight into Mills path and he gleefully side-footed home. Armagh were reduced to ten men on 80 minutes after Dara Noonan was shown a straight red card for an off-the-ball incident.
Knockbreda 3 Larne 0
Both teams went into this match on the back of difficult midweek games. Breda started well, and on three minutes, went ahead when Dee McMaster met a cross into the box by Jordan Hughes and blasted the ball into the net. The home team were dominant after that, and getting behind the Larne defence at will. On 25 minutes, a free kick in midfield, by Jordan Hughes, evaded the defence and Breda centre-back, Andrew Ferguson, poked the ball past the Larne keeper. It was no surprise when Breda extended their lead, on 30 minutes, when Jordan Hughes again got behind the Larne defence and beat their keeper for a deserved goal to cap his overall impressive display. With the game effectively over, Breda were content to sit back, although almost scored a further goal when a fine Jordan Hughes header went narrowly wide. A big three points for Breda.
Moyola Park 0 Newington 3
Fourth-placed Moyola Park came into this game unbeaten in their last six games. Manager Mervyn Pattison had nearly a full strength squad to pick from, with Gallagher and Gray returning after missing the midweek game with Portstewart, but following a scoreless first half, it was the visitors who opened the scoring in the 65th minute, when McErlean crossed from the right and the unmarked Rafferty calmly headed past Maybin. With 10 minutes left on the clock, a poor corner from the home side saw the visitors break, with McFall evading Waddell and crossing for Rafferty to score past Maybin for his second. The game was coming to a close when the visitors were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box. McAuley’s effort was saved by Maybin, but the rebound off the post hit Rafferty and went in for his and Newington’s third.
PSNI 1 Glebe Rangers 0
The game took an unexpected turn on 18 minutes when the police were reduced to 10 men following a straight red for Mark Anderson. This advantage to the Rangers left the police chasing the game for most of the first half and, only for three top-class one-handed saves by Jordan Williamson, were the police able to reach half time on equal terms. The second half saw a much-improved police performance. However, another excellent-double save by Williamson ensured the police stayed on level terms. The Glebe goalkeeper and defence rode their luck on more than one occasion, successfully clearing their goal-line following a number of scrambles. With time running out, the police went for broke and launched attack-after-attack on the Glebe goal, and they received their just rewards on 90 minutes, when Ashton McDemott eventually forced the ball over the Glebe goal-line during a goalmouth scramble.
Dollingstown 0 Limavady United 1
Limavady should have opened the scoring on 23 minutes, but Harkin placed his effort wide of the far post from a left wing cross. Young Josh Norton worked exceptionally hard all afternoon and kept the defence fully occupied, and he combined very well with Gibson, whose shot was deflected for a corner. Dollingstown were very unlucky on 45 minutes, when Norton chased a lost cause and pulled the ball back for Gibson, whose goal-bound shot was deflected onto the post. On 48 minutes, Hughes found himself one-on-one with the keeper who saved with his feet. Limavady went in front on the hour mark, when a Paul Owens free kick from fully 30 yards evaded the home keeper. Credit to DFC, they kept plugging away, and Walker shot wide from a good position. Hughes and McConnell were then replaced with Tomelty and Adams, as DFC went in search of an equaliser which almost came on 80 minutes, when the keeper got down low to his left to keep out a shot from Lavery.
Tobermore United 1 Queens University 0
Tobermore were the first to threaten, and it was centre-half Conor Kearns who rose well to meet a free kick in the seventh minute, but his effort was high and wide of the target. At the other end, Queen's were launching their first threat on the home goal from a corner but McGraw claimed well. Winton was causing all sorts of bother on the left and with 19 minutes gone, he got in behind the Queen's defence and bearing down on goal. The keeper charged out of the box, but Winton’s quick feet sold him, resulting in a foul and straight red card for the No 1. Queen's were forced to reshuffle and reorganise and were under a lot of pressure when Tobermore scored from a corner in the 27th minute. Somehow the ball landed at the feet of the hard-working Trevor Parkhill, and his shot found the back of the net. Queen's fought hard, but the one-man disadvantage proved too much, as Tobermore took the points.
Dundela 0 Banbridge Town 1
Ryan Gourley had the first chance of the game for Banbridge, but headed over after beating Sergeant to the ball. TJ Murray and Matty Burrows were struggling to beat the offside trap, and Tuda Murphy saved from Burrows, despite the flag being raised. The best chance of the half fell to TJ Murray, after he managed to get on the end of a Matty Burrows cross, however, it was agonisingly kept out through a combination of Murphy and the crossbar. The second half began and The Duns will probably feel that they should have taken the lead after a goalmouth scramble that was caused by a TJ Murray effort. The lively Downey was causing problems, and he struck the bar from a header from a corner. The warning signs were there for the Duns, and Town took the lead soon after, when Downey cut in from the right and burst through Dundela’s defence to fire an unstoppable drive beyond Sergeant. Burrows had a chance to equalise late on, but he fired straight at Murphy when played into the box.
Belfast Telegraph Digital