Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Championship round-up November 16

Round-up of action from Championship One & Two:

Championship One:

Loughgall 0 Carrick Rangers 2

Two second half goals from Adam Dick and Jody Lynch respectively gave Carrick Rangers their third consecutive Championship One victory in a tough contest against Loughgall at Lakeview Park on Saturday.

Loughgall went close to opening the scoring in the 17th minute, as Daniel Ryan's low shot hit the post and agonisingly trickled along the goal line, just before Rangers goalkeeper Gareth Deane was able to grasp hold of the ball.

Rangers’ first significant chance came from captain Aaron Harmon, who took responsibility of a free kick no more than a yard from the edge of the penalty area, but he failed to test home keeper, Jamie McArdle.

McArdle then pulled off a superb save to prevent Jody Lynch from opening the scoring. A quick, counter-attacking move allowed Nathan McConnell to feed a pass to Lynch, whose left-footed effort which looked destined to find the bottom corner, before McArdle, at full stretch, managed to touch it past the post for a corner.

Rangers created the best goal-scoring chances in the opening half, but Loughgall were still enjoying a significant amount of possession, without fully testing Gareth Deane in the Rangers goal.

Nathan McConnell, who was given a start in place of the injured Richard Gibson, fired a strong shot from the left hand side of the penalty area, but it was well parried by the goalkeeper.

Carrick fans must have thought it wasn't going to be their day, when in the 62nd minute, the ball broke to Conor McCloskey eight yards from goal but he failed to make clean connection with the ball and missed the target.

Adam Dick came on in the place of Nathan McConnell in the 65th minute and it was the 25-year-old striker who gave Rangers the lead in the 75th minute. Conor McCloskey won possession, before crossing a delightful ball which was knocked in by Dick for his second goal of the campaign.

Dick attempted to double the lead, but his low free kick from the left edge of the penalty area was tipped over the bar. Loughgall pressed for an equaliser, but failed to create any clear-cut chances. Gareth Deane held a long range low rasping shot.

Loughgall's job was made all the more difficult, when Joe McKee was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence in the 89th minute, and Rangers sealed the win in stoppage time.

Aaron Smyth broke down the right flank and crossed the ball into the path of Dick, whose effort was palmed away by the goalkeeper, but only as far as Jody Lynch, who was able to score for the second game in a row, and ensure that Rangers’ much improved run of league performances continues.

 

Bangor 2 Dergview 1

Bangor extended their unbeaten league run to eight games with a hard-fought 2-1 victory at Clandeboye Park. The home team got off to the best possible start with two goals in the first six minutes. In the third minute, full-back Brian Hylands slid a low ball across the box from the left, and as the visitors' defence failed to clear, striker Ethan Boylan was on the spot to slide the ball into the net from five yards.

Three minutes later, referee Steven Gregg pointed to the spot after Dergview's teenage left-back Gary Stewart brought down Bangor's attacking right- back Andy Long three yards inside box. Mark Cooling slammed home past a helpless Jack Boggs in the Dergview goal.

Bangor had an opportunity to go further ahead in the 14th minute, but Boggs reacted lightning fast to save Cooling's swerving 28-yard drive, while three minutes later at the other end, Dergview forward Darren Higgenbotham  slipped the ball back to Mark Leckey for the winger to fire a couple of feet over from 18 yards.

Tommy Lambe had a couple of chances to extend the home team's lead, robbing midfielder Adam Leckey on the edge of the area in the 35th minute, but then firing his low drive a couple of feet wide of the left upright.  Right on the half time whistle, the home winger sent a dipping shot just over from outside the box.

In the 38th minute, Dergview player-manager Richard Clarke had supplied lively winger Aaron Arkinson, who sent his rasping 16-yard shot inches too high.

Dergview were back in the frame in the 59th minute. The home defence was caught out as visitors' skipper Gareth Porter found Darren Higgenbotham, and the striker made no mistake from three yards out.

In an end-to-end game, there were chances for both sides, with Bangor winger Jordan Forsythe just failing to get his head to an Andy Morrow cross four yards out from goal in the 61st minute.

In the 84th minute, at the other end, home keeper Darren Gibbons made a vital double save, as he first blocked Adam Leckey's hard hit 15- yard drive on his line, and then recovered lightning fast to push away Dergview sub Conrad Kee's follow-up from the edge of the area.

Bangor subs Andy Hall and Stephen O'Neill should have made the points safe in the 88th minute, but with the keeper beaten, O'Neill hit the crossbar a yard out from Andy Hall's free kick from the right flank.

 

Institute 3 HW Welders 1

Institute returned to winning ways with a convincing 3-1 victory over H&W Welders at Drumahoe on Saturday.

Robbie Hume got Stute off to the best possible start by cooly slotting home from close range after six minutes.

Soon after, the Welders came inches from equalising, when Phillip Simpson rose highest from a corner, only to find his header come off the woodwork. With that scare aside, Stute began to control proceedings, with McFadden and Hume both going close to doubling Stute's lead.

Stute began the second half as they finished the first, and it didn't take McFadden long to double Stute’s advantage after great work down the left by McCrudden and McKeever.

The Welders pulled a goal back in the 71st minute, after a shot from Ryan Deans was deflected into the Stute goal.

Paul Kee immediately made a change and brought on Darren McCauley for Robbie Hume. McCauley made an instant impact, causing the Welders’ defence all sorts of problems. Then in the 81st minute, the match was over as captain Paddy McLaughlin rose highest to nod home Stutes third from a McCrudden cross. 

 

Limavady 1 Knockbreda 2

Another patchy performance, and yet another costly home defeat. Neil Mullan has his work cut out to get this group of players away from the foot of the table, but for spells in Saturday's contest, there were signs of progress.

However, after getting back into the game with an equaliser early in the second half, United finished a well beaten side, and as soon as the visitors regained the lead, the fragile self-belief rapidly drained away, and too many of the players seemed content to play out time, even though there were still 25 minutes left.

The game almost had a sensational start 20 seconds in, as Blaine Morrison's cross from the left was watched by everyone, including Neeson in the visitors' goal, when any contact would have turned the ball in.

At the other end, James Wright could easily have scored, collecting a neat back- heel on the edge of the box, but blazing wildly over.

In the 11th minute, the industrious McIvor, who had another excellent game, twisted and turned before feeding Heaney, who shot well wide from 20 yards. Two minutes later, Aaron Mullan skilfully made space inside the box by chipping the ball over his own head, before turning his man to volley wide.

United were well in contention at this stage, but in the 14th minute, they were hit by a sucker-punch.

Paul Young was wide out on the right when he was given the ball, and he was allowed time to let fly with a dipping volley that flew over McGraw's flailing arm and into his goal.

It was a hammer blow, more so because it was unexpected. United were shaken, and even the reliable Ryan Mullan made a rare slip five minutes later, giving the ball away in front of his goal, but the attacker hurriedly shot straight at McGraw, who was able to claim the ball at the second attempt.

On the half hour, United were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position, and McIvor's superbly flighted effort beat the wall and was begging to be touched in, but sadly no fewer than three attackers failed to connect. It was the last clear effort of the half, but United trooped off at the break, still feeling well in contention.

Things looked even more hopeful as the sides resumed after the break in the gloom and drizzle.

Almost immediately, United appealed for a penalty, claiming hand-ball in vain.

But United attacked again, and in the 50th minute, Logue had crossed the ball into the box, and the ball came back out to Jack Heane,y who rifled a shot low through a crowd of players and into the bottom right hand corner of the net, beyond the diving Neeson.

But almost from the kick off, Knockbreda could have regained the lead, as they passed the ball through the middle of the park, before playing in Atkinson, who had a clear view of the target, but shot wide from 10 yards, with McGraw stranded out of position. It was a warning that United failed to heed.

Two minutes later, they carved open another opening, with Young again bursting down the right and letting fly with a shot from the right, which went well wide.  United's defence was rocking now, and in the 56th minute, they were cut apart by quick passing, before the ball found Wright inside the box at the near post, who had the simple task of picking his spot to score past McGraw.

Another chance fell to the visitors within two minutes, but thankfully the ball was hit straight at McGraw. In the 62nd minute, McGraw nearly gifted Knockbreda a third, as he misjudged a shot which bounced off his chest, just missing an in-rushing forward.

In the 72nd minute, McGraw was forced to palm away substitute Chines' free kick, which easily cleared the wall.

United did spark briefly in the last 10 minutes. Heaney had a decent free kick that was too close to Neeson, and then Morrison stretched to head over from close range.

The game petered out on a low note, as McIvor appeared to go over on his ankle and was stretchered off.

United have a break from the league next week when they travel to AFC Craigavon on Intermediate Cup business.

 

Championship Two:

Wakehurst 1 Queen’s University 2

Queen’s arrived at Mill Meadow high in confidence on the back of a six-match unbeaten run. They also had the opportunity of going top of Championship League Two, if things went their way both here and in the other games involving the top three teams.

Stephen McDowell should have given his side the lead after 12 minutes, as the home defence were caught wrong-footed by a miss-hit shot from Mark Prenter, but with the goal gaping, McDowell too miss-hit his effort and the ball drifted well wide.

Most of the play was confined to midfield in the opening half-hour, with neither keeper tested.

A late lunge on keeper Declan Brown by Ryan Gregg in the 35th minute earned the Wakehurst midfielder a yellow card, and almost immediately at the other end, Prenter had the ball in the net, only for winger Aaron Thompson to be flagged offside.

A great through-ball from Conor Gregg sent Jason Paul clear inside the box, but the usually lethal finisher joined the list of miss-hit efforts and Queen’s survived. Four minutes before the break the home side were denied a penalty, as Jason Paul raced through again and was impeded by central defender James Ferrin, but the referee waved play on.

On 43 minutes, neat footwork from Conor Gregg in a crowded penalty box created space for George Young, but his accurate shot was well saved by Brown and the game remained scoreless at half time.

The game was set up for the visitors three minutes into the second half, as Wakehurst were reduced to 10 players after keeper Marc Maybin was shown a straight red card.

A Wakehurst re-shuffle meant Ryan Gregg had to forego his place in midfield as manager Ian Gregg sent on replacement keeper McCauley Cairns.

Wakehurst still looked reasonably comfortable even with 10 players, but were hit twice in two minutes, as first Thompson looped his shot on the turn past Cairns on 65 minutes and then Ferrin, completely unmarked from a corner kick, headed firmly past Cairns on 67 minutes.

That looked to have sealed the points for the visitors, but on 70 minutes, defender Paul Muir halved the deficit, as he swivelled and placed his shot in the far corner of the net past a helpless Brown from 10 yards.

The final 20 minutes were mainly played out in the visitors half as Wakehurst refused to accept defeat, but despite their possession, Queen’s held on for the three points. which were ultimately enough to take them to top spot after Armagh City and Newington both dropped points.

 

PSNI FC 2  Sport & Leisure Swifts 0

Both teams knew that recent results were nothing to go by. The PSNI had been defeated or held to a draw by teams close to the bottom of the league. They knew that a good result was important.

The first half was dominated by the police, creating numerous opportunities but not taking advantage, until the 23rd minute, when Stephen Leitch crossed from the left wing and the ball landed for Peter Steele on the six-yard box to dispatch the ball to the back of the net. The police had numerous opportunities to increase their lead, but were unable to do so. Keith Wilson in the PSNI goal did not have one save to make in the first half.

The second half started with the PSNI on the offensive. On 51 minutes, they had numerous chances to put the ball in the back of the net, but brilliant keeping by Damien Nugent in the S&L goal saved their bacon.

Now it was S&L who held the upper hand, and had a number of chances to even the game, but lady luck was on the side of the police. 

With time running out, the police were showing signs of nerves and S&L were threatening.

However, police nerves were put to rest when in the 91st minute, Steele found the ball at his feet, and despite calls for him to lay it off to others in a better position, he took his time, picked his spot and slotted the ball home for his and the PSNI's second goal.

An excellent sporting match with only one yellow card.

 

Banbridge Town 2 Portstewart 0

“A thoroughly professional performance” was a comment made by a jubilant Banbridge Town supporter as he left Crystal Park last Saturday.

This indeed did sum up another impressive display from this young Town side who continually overcome a perceived lack of experience with a terrific fighting spirit and no lack of skill (especially at Crystal Park).

They continued their unbeaten home league record this season with a  -0 victory over a strong Portstewart side, who have been no pushovers to date.

A fully fit Mark Teggart returned to the starting line-up and played a pivotal role in Town's win, adding a lot of sparkle to the midfield.

Conor Downey started up front and produced a bustling display.

Indeed it was Downey who flashed an inviting cross in front of goal after only three minutes, which went agonisingly wide with the visitors defence in disarray.

Portstewart were quick to counter-attack, with Moody and Doherty combining well to put pressure on Town. Banbridge got the dream start they desired on six minutes with the move of the match. Mark Teggart picked out Adam Pedlow out on the left with a defence splitting pass, and the latter fired a great cross to the unmarked Gary Boyle, who touched home past a stranded Joel Madison in the Portstewart goals to put Town 1-0 ahead.

Teggart was proving a real thorn in the flesh to the Seasiders, and was close to doubling Banbridge's lead after 14 minutes after wriggling his way through.

Portstewart had no answer to Teggart's early promptings, and on 19 minutes he was the architect in sending Town into a 2-0 lead.

His thunderbolt effort was stopped by Madison only for Banbridge full-back James Wilson to react quicker than anyone to slot the ball home for a well taken opportunistic goal.

Portstewart were stunned and almost conceded one minute later when Teggart's free kick flew inches wide.

The visitors worked hard to get back into the game and centre-forward Todd was off target on 26 minutes after McAllister had found him 12 yards from goal.

Winger Doherty cut in and tested Town keeper Stephen Cairnduff after 33 minutes with a strong shot which the keeper safely held.

Three minutes later, Adam Pedlow sent a teasing swerving volley inches over after leaving a couple of defenders in his wake.

Neill was high and wide with a 30-yard Portstewart free kick just on the half time whistle.

The visitors then showed a lot of determination, and a Ricky Dunlop strike was just past the upright on 46 minutes.

Town consolidated and centre-back Stephen Greene struck a shot inches wide after 50 minutes following a Pedlow corner.

The busy McAllister worked hard for Portstewart, and with the dangerous Lee Forgrave, they fought hard to bring the Seasiders back into contention.

A terrific 50-yard run from James Wilson saw the full- back find Gary Boyle with his cross after 64 minutes. However Boyle's overhead kick was saved by Madison.

One minute later, an alert Cairnduff saved from a Forgrave snap-shot and the latter sliced over soon after when well-placed.

Portstewart were applying a lot of pressure at this stage, but found the Town rearguard uncompromising and Martin Buchanan made a great block from a Neill volley in the 77 th minute.

Mattie McCartan was having a very dominant game in Town's midfield and was unlucky on 80 minutes when his 20-yard volley was cleared off the line by Portstewart number two Gawne.

Sub Paul Walsh saw a typical pile-driver well held by Madison, and on 85 minutes, Mattie McCartan once again won the ball in midfield and sent Gary Boyle racing through. However, the striker's effort was saved by Madison.

Another impressive three points and the kind of reaction to the dropping of two home points last week that will please Manager Ryan Watson. Town's back four were magnificent and impressive midfielder Damian McParland keeps rolling back the years with another eye-catching performance.

This Saturday is a free day for Town. However, they will return to league action on Saturday November 30 with a visit to Cookstown to face Killymoon Rangers (kick-off 2pm).

The supporters club is running a bus to this fixture leaving Banbridge at 12pm.

 

Annagh United 6 Ballymoney United 2

A Shea Campbell hat-trick was the highlight of this comeback story at Tandragee Road seeing eight goals scored in total.

Unbelievably, it took a 15 minutes for this game to settle down, when Shea Campbell forced keeper Moore into a great save, followed by a Stretton effort blocked from 25 yards.

Two minutes later, Wright saw an equally good save from his effort by Money skipper Gillan, but one minute later, Gillan got his reward when he put his side ahead following an assist from Larkin. Graig tested Wright on the half hour, and when the same player struck the crossbar on 36 minutes, Wright again saved from Larkins rebounded effort.The visitors were on top for this period and got their second via Gillan's cool finish on 38 minutes.

It looked like Annagh would have it all to do after the break, but Paul Stretton found the top corner on the half time whistle, giving Annagh some hope.

The second half proved a cracking 45 minutes for a rejuvenated home side. On 58 minutes, Bell’s corner was flicked on by Peden for an on-rushing Shea Campbell to equalise, and on the hour mark, both Stretton and Money’s Larkin had great individual efforts saved.

Then, on 70 minutes, Francis McCann's solo run ended in a cross, which was dummied by Shea Campbell and it went in off McFerran, giving Annagh the lead.

Annagh didn't stop there. Two minutes later, some fine build-up from Pentland laid Shea Campbell for his brace, and the in-form striker grabbed his hat-trick with 10 minutes to play when he latched onto a nice through ball from Gardiner.

The come-back was complete when Jordan Bell elected to take a 20-yard free kick in the 90th minute, and he gave keeper Moore no chance as the ball hit the stanchion.

 

Glebe Rangers 3 Moyola Park 5

Glebe Rangers and Moyola Park met at the Joey Dunlop Centre on Saturday with one point separating the teams in the league table, and it was the visitors who emerged victorious after a high-scoring affair.    

With conditions not conducive to good football, it was Kennoway who had the first opportunity, but he failed to find the target from McVicker's free kick.

The midfielder then drove wide after a fine passing move created the chance. Despite this early promise from Glebe, it was the visitors who took the lead with 18 minutes on the clock, when a free kick dropped to Chris Dowie, and the striker made no mistake against his old club.

The hosts reacted positively, and Wilkinson thought he had equalised six minutes later, but the linesman had already flagged for offside.

In a half largely devoid of chances, Christie provided the spark for Glebe just before half time when he cut in from the right, drove against the post and the retreating Waddell diverted the rebound into his own goal to send the sides in level at the interval.

Glebe's joy at drawing level was short-lived as another free kick caused difficulties for the home defence.

Kane, under pressure as the cross came in, was unable to gather and David Paul seized on the loose ball to restore Moyola's lead.

Kennoway had what looked a valid penalty claim waved away as the hosts sought a second equaliser and the pressure continued with Henry's effort being turned away by Farniok. 

Wilkinson was next to threaten when his header from Elder's cross was stopped by Farniok, and Kennoway blasted the rebound over. 

Eventually the equaliser arrived when Elder's cross struck a Moyola hand inside the box, and Elder sent Farniok the wrong way from the resultant spot-kick.

At this stage Glebe appeared the more likely winners, but the visitors struck back immediately when, after winning the ball in midfield, a quick breakaway found Darren Walls on the left. His cross-shot was saved by Kane, but Walls followed in to restore Moyola's lead.

Buoyed by their quick response, Moyola seized the initiative and began to find holes in a nervous-looking Glebe defence.

Dowie was denied twice in quick succession by Kane, with the second effort resulting in a corner.

Walls took it and his in-swinging effort found the net to make it 4-2. As Glebe threw caution to the wind, the visitors again demonstrated their expertise on the break as the influential Dowie latched on to a long ball before slotting past Kane to ensure the three points would be heading to Moyola.

To their credit Glebe continued to battle, and Kennoway saw another effort saved by Farniok before Wilkinson completed the day's scoring with a fine finish from Elder's cross.

 

Tobermore United 2 Killymoon Rangers 0

Despite dominating this game for long periods and having numerous chances to take the lead, it took Tobermore all of 75 minutes to breach a resolute Killymoon defence, and that came courtesy of a penalty.

The Cookstown outfit were well up for this derby after a great draw the previous week against PSNI, and it was they who created the first chance with only a couple of minutes gone.

Tobermore soon found their rhythm with some great moves, but rarely troubled Matt Rainey in the visitor's goals, and any time they did get a shot on target, the young stopper dealt comfortably with it.

The game became a little feisty, and referee Davy Walker dished out a few yellow cards to both sides throughout the match.

Killymoon went in the happier at half time, and they continued to frustrate the home side well into the second half. But on 75 minutes, the hard working Trevor Pakhill was upended inside the penalty box and the same player put Tobermore into the lead with a well taken spot-kick.

Despite this setback, Killymoon continued to play some neat football with Johnny Young involved in most of their play.

However, on 85 minutes, their big centre-half Andy Neill received a red card for disputing a decision and Tobermore punished the 10 men with a tap-in by Gareth McLaughlin on 90 minutes to wrap up the points.

 

Lurgan Celtic 2 Newington 2

Going into Saturday’s game Lurgan Celtic would have taken a point against one of the league leaders Newington, but at the full time whistle felt as if they should have taken all three points.

Manager O'Kane went into the game missing Conor McAnallen and John Cochrane, but welcomed back Stephen Boyd to give the backline much needed experience.

The game started with both sides having speculative efforts, but both keepers dealt with the threat easily.

Newington looked dangerous on the counter attack, but McCabe and Boyd were in top form in the Celtic back line.

Celtic seemed to be sitting back and inviting pressure, and it resulted in the away side taking the lead in the 19th minute, when a cross eluded everyone except the winger for Newington to smash home the first goal of the game.

Buoyed by this, Newington pressed on and Fitzpatrick dropped deeper to get on the ball, leaving Toland to chase down any balls played up to him. The away side doubled their advantage in the 35th minute as the Hoop’s defence were caught sleeping from a quick free kick, as Newington were allowed all the time needed to square the ball for a tap in to increase their advantage.

 Now facing a two-goal deficit, Celtic could have collapsed but regrouped and scored in the 37th minute, when a break from the excellent McArdle, who was again playing at right-back, fed Fitzpatrick and his return pass found McArdle again to slot home. Just as the teams were about to go in at the break, Celtic snatched an equaliser, when an excellent free kick floated over the Newington defence to allow top scorer Fitzpatrick to score.

Newington’s task was made more difficult when their manager, Eamonn McCarthy, was dismissed from the sidelines after a dispute with the referee, and two of their players were also later shown red cards.

With a numerical advantage, the emphasis was on the Hoops to push on, but seemed to be over-cautious as Newington still looked dangerous on the break.

In the final minutes of the match, Celtic found themselves clear, but each time somehow couldn't find the decisive final ball that would have given them all three points.

With the final whistle, it was clear that the home side felt they should have won, but they were unable to take advantage in the circumstances.

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