Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Championship round-up, August 9

All the latest from Championship One and Two:

Championship One

Dundela 4 Loughgall 0

Dundela opened their season with a convincing 4-0 home win against Loughgall. The Duns were one up on 5 minutes when a 35-yard volley from Jordan West crashed off the Loughgall crossbar and dropped to Nathen Jones, who scored with a low drive. Dundela continued to press for the remainder of the first half and they almost increased their lead - however, Loughgall keeper Buchanan kept them in the game with two great saves in a matter of seconds from Halliday and Jackson.

The second half was only three minutes old when Buchanan again made a great save to keep the Duns out, but he was helpless on 50 minutes when Michael Halliday scored a rebound off an upright. The Duns pressed hard for further goals and were rewarded on 55 minutes, when Jordan West hit the back of the net from 25-yards for the third, and the fourth goal came on 85 minutes when Buchanan could only push a shot onto the crossbar and watch Carl McComb follow in to score.

Lisburn Distillery 2 Knockbreda 0

After the hard work of pre-season, finally the season was finally upon us as Lisburn Distillery hosted Knockbreda with the Whites hoping to impress the home crowd in their first competitive match of the 2014-15 campaign.

With both sides having quite a few new faces in their teams, it was Knockbreda who forced the early pace having a string of chances the first on five minutes as James Wright ran through before lobbing the advancing home  keeper Ryan McBride but thankfully, for the home fans, the effort hit the side netting.

The hosts slowly settled into the game and had their first chance on 16 minutes when Jimmy McIlhagga’s shot beat Breda keeper John Willamson only for the ball to rebound off the bar, but the visitors' respite was only temporary, as shortly afterwards, Whites debutant Marty Jones scored the first goal of the new season as he fought off the attention of a Knockbreda defender before scooping the ball past Willamson on 29 minutes.

Joe McDonnell then made it 2-0 on 38 minutes as he twisted and turned, holding off the attentions of the visitors' defence before firing accurately into the bottom corner of the net, a sizzler of a goal for the summer signing.

Knockbreda started the second half the brighter, with a Thomas Lambe floated free kick deflecting off the head of Joe McDonnell before beating McBride, but narrowly going behind for a corner.

The game fizzled out with no further chances with the home side pleased to secure their first win in an opening game since 2007 and this is doubtless something that they will want to build on.

Bangor 4 Dergview 1

Bangor got their season off to a winning start with a hard-fought victory over Dergview.  An evenly-contested battle swung in the Seasiders' favour in the second half with three goals to put the gloss on an opening day win.

The visitors opened the scoring after 12 minutes when Darren Higginbotham found the top corner from 20 yards.  While that was spectacular, Andy Morrow’s equaliser in the 32nd minute was scrappy.

Debutant Richard Gibson gave Bangor the lead on the hour mark before an 88 and 90 minute double from Mark Cooling gave the Seasiders all three points.

Armagh City 1 Ards 1

Armagh City returned to the Belfast Telegraph Championship One on Saturday after four years and quickly realised they will have a tough task this season. Despite gaining a precious point in the 1-1 draw, they came under tremendous pressure throughout this competitive match.

Armagh, in fact, started brightly despite the fact that they were missing four of their top senior players because of suspensions and other current sporting commitments.

City almost opened their account on five minutes when a thunderous right-footed half-volley from Eamon Kelly whizzed over the opposition crossbar. They deservedly took the lead on 12 minutes when a corner from the left was headed back across the goal by Dara Noonan and, as the Ards defence dithered, the prolific Stephen Murray pounced to blast the ball into the roof of the net from 15 yards out.

But this score only served to start an Ards onslaught led by Cahoon who burst into the City box and was unlucky to drag his 10-yard effort into the side-netting. Almost immediately after this, Eamon McAllister fired a low 20-yard shot just wide as Ards applied the pressure and tried to grab the equaliser before the break.

However, Noonan and Conor McAnallen - signed this season by City from Lurgan Celtic - were immense in the heart of the home side's defence and, in company with keeper Sean Morgan, just about managed to keep the visitors at bay.

After the break, City's Philip Donnelly shot goalwards but Ards stopper Graham McKibben got down well to his right to divert the ball around an upright. Visiting sub Keith Dougan should have levelled on 55 minutes when he was left free in the box but Morgan parried his initial shot and the follow-up effort was drilled wide.

Ards continued on the offensive and their deserved equaliser came with just over 10 minutes remaining. A shot struck an Armagh upright and bounced across goal, where Cahoon was first to react and bundled the ball past the despairing Morgan.

Ards were now firing on all cylinders as they went for the win. But, in doing so, they twice left themselves exposed at the back and the rampant Murray almost made them pay twice.

An excellent game, Ards - led brilliantly by the experienced Conor Downey - will count themselves unlucky not to have taken all three points.

City, however, played doggedly throughout and will be buoyed by the fact that their inexperienced team will be boosted by the return of four senior players over the next two weeks.

PSNI 0 H&W Welders 2

The PSNI didn't get their dream start in their first ever Championship One encounter. With the exception of David Harrison in goals and Berry Moore in midfield, the line-up was from last season’s squad. With club captain, Scott McCrory, his deputy, Noel Anderson and Robert Knox all out injured, the police side knew they were going to be well tested by the Welders, who finished last season with a number of impressive results.

There was little to separate the two teams in the first half. Lukasz Adamczyk had the best chance on two minutes, but he was unable to convert a Mark Anderson pass with the goal at his mercy. At the other end, the Welders had an opportunity to get on the score-sheet when on nine minutes Michael McClelland was through on goal but an excellent sliding tackle by Harrison cleared the ball to safety.

A Ryan Berry free from 20 yards grazed the Welders upright as did an Anderson effort on 42 minutes. Both teams played attractive open football, but cancelled each other out when it mattered.

The deadlock was broken on 54 minutes when a long high ball into the police 18-yard box was not cleared to safety. Scott Davidson gladly picked up the loose ball and notched it home.

The PSNI raised their game and went on the offensive. The 55th minute saw ex-PSNI FC keeper, Michael Dougherty pull off a top class save, preventing a long range effort from Anderson. The police endeavours were short lived, as on the 60th minute another long range Welders effort into the box was again not properly dealt with by the police defence, and with time and space, Davidson made no mistake.  Another Anderson effort from distance was again turned round the post by Dougherty and on 75 minutes, an excellent overhead effort by a Welders player rebounded off the police upright.

The Welders ran out deserved winners but the PSNI FC can take some comfort from the fact they were neither overawed nor out of their depth.

Championship Two

Dollingstown 0 Wakehurst 1

Dollingstown FC welcomed Wakehurst FC to the first ever Championship game to be held at Planters Park on a beautiful sunny afternoon with the pitch in perfect playing conditions and a very encouraging home attendance for the big kick off.

Dollingstown were very comfortable during the first half hour of the game and moved the ball around very well but were very fortunate just before the break when the Wakehurst centre-half headed in from a free kick but was adjudged to be inches off side.

In the second half, Wakehurst began to dictate the play without ever really looking like breaking the deadlock. Indeed, it was Dollingstown who should have went in front when Jake Redpath headed over from inside the six-yard box from a well-taken free kick.

Minutes later, Dollingstown were awarded another free kick on the opposite side of the pitch but a poor delivery from Adam Walker resulted in a break away by Wakehurst, who ended up with an extra man during the attack and Conor Cregg scored with a sublime chip over the keeper.

Banbridge Town 0 Portstewart 2

Banbridge Town began their season with a home defeat, which will give manager Ryan Watson plenty to think about.

Town keeper Stephen Croft was quickly off his line as early as the 4th minute to clear a dangerous situation and minutes later, defender Stephen Greene was on hand to clear a cross from experienced Portstewart midfielder Lee Forgrave. Town's first real effort came from a Conor Downey shot as he cut in from the right but Joel Madison proved more than a match for it. Downey could have given the hosts a 12th minute lead but was denied by a combination of the post and good goalkeeping by Madison.

The visitors were proving a handful in fast counter-attacks and Stewart fired just wide of Croft's upright after 25 minutes.

Just before the half time whistle Damian McParland sent Mark Teggart through on goal but Madison pushed his effort out for a fruitless corner.  When Portstewart forced a corner early in the second half, Stewart found himself unmarked at the near post and duly obliged by prodding the ball past Croft to shock Town.

To give Banbridge some credit, they began to show some fight after this and Ferguson blasted wide on 59 minutes. Four minutes later, a James Wilson cross was met by a downward header from Conor Downey which Madison held at the base of the post.

The Seahawks did have a lucky escape in the 73rd minute when a Downey cross into the box caused mayhem and a defender sent a header crashing on to his own crossbar in a desperate attempt to clear. Ryan Watson made a double substitution bringing Ryan Gourley and Ryan Gregg into the fray, and the new formation did appear to add impetus to the Banbridge play.

A fine Downey-McParland move ended with Mark Teggart blazing over after 80 minutes and Nathan Baird was wide with a 20-yard free kick three minutes later as Town piled in the pressure. However, it was all to no avail when after 86 minutes Portstewart substitute McClements was on hand to stroke a loose ball home after another corner had not been cleared by the home rear-guard.

Ballymoney United 1 Queen's University 2

Being the first game of the new season, both teams started cautiously. A Queen’s free kick on 15 minutes was blasted over the Ballymoney bar by Allison. A corner by Queen’s Murphy was headed over the bar by Thompson on 20 minutes. Queen's took the lead after 35 minutes when Culbert converted a penalty past Moore in the home goal. Just before half time, an Elliot effort for the home team went just over the visitors' goal. A great pass on 44 minutes by Elliot found Brown who rounded his namesake Brown in the Queen's goal to equalise.

Ballymoney started the second half in lively mood and Hanna forced Brown in the visitors' goal to bring off a crucial save on 50 minutes. Moore in the home goal made a brilliant save, pushing the ball round the post. Queen's took the lead on the hour when Hanna headed home from a corner unmarked.

The game continued to produce attack and counter-attack, but Ballymoney United couldn’t break down a resilient Queen’s defence. A sustained Ballymoney United attack on 75 minutes set up a series of goal scoring chances only to see the goalkeeper and the defence in the right place at the right time.

Sport and Leisure 2 Limavady United 0

Following a disappointing season, Sport and Leisure approached this game with a degree of optimism due to the impact their new manager Packie McAllister and coach John O'Kane had made on the squad over the summer and also the hard work the team had put in during pre-season training and their friendlies.

The game kicked off in glorious sunshine and both teams moved the ball at great pace but chances were few and far between until the 13th minute when Brendan Agnew brought down Limavady's Brown for a penalty. Up stepped Morrison, but his well-struck shot was saved by Saunders.

The game went end-to-end with Leisure's Corr having a shot cleared off the line and Dougie Moore heading a corner straight at McGraw in the Limavady goal.  It looked like a 0-0 at half time but then on 42 minutes a great through ball from Moore put Kevin Lynch through on goal, Limavady’s centre-half O'Hara chased him down, but a cool finish past McGraw put Leisure 1-0 up.

McAllister made his first change on 58 minutes, replacing Corr with Gallagher. This move paid great dividends when Gallagher flicked on to Lynch who fed Ryan McAuley to finish really well and make it 2-0 to Leisure. A few minutes later, a late tackle from McAuley saw him enter the referee’s notebook. McGraw was having a good game and he made a super save from Gallagher on 73 minutes to keep Limavady interested.

On 78 minutes, Pierce Tully came on for Gavin Johnston and almost instantly was booked for a late challenge. Limavady's Brown was first booked on 80 minutes for dissent and then sent off on 85 for a late challenge.

Moyola Park 4 Glebe Rangers 0

Moyola Park kicked off the 2014/2015 season in fine style leaving a much-fancied Glebe Rangers side chasing shadows during a barnstorming first half, scoring four goals without reply. The visitors found it impossible to deal with Moyola's midfield maestro Eugene Gallagher. The latter sent over a superb cross, which evaded the Glebe defence and found Darren Walls at the back post, who slotted the ball into the net after eight minutes. Midway through the half Robbie Lucas was upended in the visitors' penalty area and having placed the ball on the penalty spot he calmly stroked it into the net to give Moyola Park a two goal advantage. Just before the half-hour mark, Walls struck a 35-yard thunderbolt past a hapless Glebe keeper. Eight minutes before the interval, Gallagher got on the score-sheet to round off a superb half for Mervyn Pattison's side.

The second half saw the visitors make a more determined effort to get back into the game but the home defence, well marshalled by captain Steven McQuillan, restricted them to few scoring opportunities. Debutant goalkeeper Steven Kelly eased a goal-bound shot over his crossbar and Gareth Stewart cleared the ball off the home goal-line following a corner kick.

Moyola Park's best opportunity of the second half fell to Steven Kenning but he was unable to add the final touch to steer the ball into the Glebe net leaving the second half scoreless. This was a very encouraging result for Moyola Park bearing in mind that two players Chris Dowie and Mark Waddell were serving suspensions carried over from last season, new signing Jason Paul was unavailable and goalkeeper Marty Farniok, like Dowie and Waddell, was restricted to watching from the side-lines.

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