Dergview 1 Larne 2
Dergview are by no means out of the relegation woods yet after they were edged out by Larne at Darragh Park on Saturday.
Goals by visiting skipper Paul Maguire and strike partner Robbie White (penalty) shaded the verdict for the ever-improving visitors, who were hanging on at the end after Philip Wallace had breathed new life into the Dergview challenge with 15 minutes remaining.
Wallace's composed strike arrived shortly before Larne defender Ross Black was dismissed for a second yellow, giving the home side licence for an all-out assault in the final minutes.
During a barnstorming finale, player-manager Richard Clarke, Adam Lecky and Darren Higginbotham all had efforts blocked on the line as the 10-man visitors frantically held out for a hard-fought victory.
The result leaves the Castlederg side with work still to be done to ensure that they are not reeled in by the bottom pair of Limavady United and Tyrone neighbours Coagh United.
With the elements in their favour, the hosts started positively with right-sided attacker Andy Sproule using his pace to good effect in the opening exchanges. One 60-yard dash by Sproule almost opened the door for Higginbotham, who was then denied by visiting goalkeeper Christopher Keenan in the wake of a clever reverse pass by Aaron Arkinson on the left.
The resultant corner kick was only partially cleared with goal-bound efforts by Stephen Campbell and Sproule both charged down.
After surviving that frenetic opening spell, the visitors could well have taken the lead when a free kick by Black somehow found its way through to Jonathan McMurray, who scooped his shot over the bar with only Alan Buchanan to beat.
Larne continued to pose a significant threat on the break and they duly drew first blood on 33 minutes when a poor defensive clearance by the hosts gifted the ball to visiting skipper Maguire, who rounded the last defender to coolly slide the ball under Buchanan's legs.
Things became a little ill-tempered either side of the interval but once the players got back to concentrating on the football, the second half developed into a decent spectacle despite the continuing howling breeze.
Larne remained their most dangerous on the counter attack and shy of the hour a wayward Dergview pass in midfield allowed Maguire to race clear but on this occasion the striker drilled inches over.
Thereafter, the hosts called the shots with visiting defender Chris Rodgers heading over his own crossbar with Campbell and Clarke lining up to head home substitute Lecky's right-sided cross.
Rodgers then diverted over a Clarke pile-driver and moments later Lecky headed a right-sided delivery from the raiding Gareth Porter inches over.
It was not by all means one way traffic, as a poor touch by White allowed Buchanan to clear when the big striker really should have doubled the visitors' advantage.
The Larne faithful though didn't have long to wait for a second, White netting from the penalty spot on 71 minutes after home centre back Dale Maxwell had been hoodwinked by Niall McAllister on the right of the penalty area.
Four minutes later, Dergview were back in business when the visiting defence only partially cleared an Arkinson corner kick and left-back Wallace showed tremendous composure to smash home from 16 yards.
Almost immediately Buchanan and Gary Dickson somehow prevented White and Maguire respectively restoring the visitors' two-goal cushion, however once Larne were reduced to 10-men after Black picked up a second yellow it was all hands to the pump.
The hosts piled on the pressure in the final nine minutes with Clarke, who earlier fizzed a pile-driver agonisingly wide from 20 yards, Higginbotham and Lecky all having chances blocked on the goal line but the visitors held out for a hard-fought away win.
Limavady United 1 Loughgall 2
The agony goes on for the Roesiders, as yet another spirited performance ended in defeat, meaning that they are fast running out of games to escape the trap door.
This was a game affected by the strong wind and United decided to play with it in the first half. It paid an immediate dividend, as they hit the front after 100 seconds.
A free kick came into the box from the right and Drummond's punch out was weak. As he stood wrong footed, the ball fell to Lee Harkin lurking on the edge on the box, and he struck it low into the empty net.
Possibly surprised at finding themselves in the unusual position of being ahead, United knew they had to take advantage of the wind and build a lead for the second half, and set about the task with gusto.
On eight minutes they nearly scored again, when a ball over the top found McClean, who was through in a one on one with Drummond, but, although he had Morrison free to pass to, he decided to go for goal himself, took too long getting his shot off, and the keeper blocked his effort.
On 13 minutes, a corner taken short from the right was fired in towards the goal, and was headed out from under the bar by a defender who beat his keeper to the ball.
Loughgall were struggling to play into the wind but they did have a near miss five minutes later when Wilson came for a ball from a corner that he was never going to win, but fortunately the ball was put well wide. But United were playing with some new found confidence, demonstrated by McFadden's audacious dipping free kick from the centre circle, which Drummond watched all the way before catching it on the line.
Last week, United's good work of the first half was undone by conceding a soft goal just after the restart, and exactly the same thing happened on Saturday, as they failed to preserve their lead.
A free kick was sent into the box through a crowd of players, and Wilson spilled the ball which fell straight to Bradley, who tapped it into the net.
Facing a strong wind, and reinvigorated opponents, United could have wilted as they did at Tilleysburn, but they withstood the onslaught well. Moffett tried his luck with a 30 yard effort assisted by the wind, which went straight into Wilson's midriff. Then, Costello chased down a long ball, and charged down Wilson's clearance, but to the keeper's relief the ricochet went wide of the goal.
However on 62 minutes, Loughgall turned the game around. Scoltock failed to clear a cross ball from Moffett and there were no fewer than three attackers converging on the loose ball in the box, with Costello first on the scene to side foot past Wilson.
McCreanor then shot over from the edge of the box on 68 minutes. Costello's 70th minute effort was correctly ruled out for offside. And United were frustrated two minutes later when a good move saw McClean cut in from the left, but instead of putting in one of two attackers waiting in the six yard box, he went for glory and only succeeded in shooting straight at Drummond.
In the last 10 minutes, the Roesiders stepped up a gear. McFadden had a screamer of a shot which Drummond got a finger-tip to for a corner. With five minutes to go Scoltock bludgeoned his way through a crowd of players to force the ball in, but referee McFadden disallowed the goal for an infringement on the keeper to intense frustration.
In the last minute, the Villagers had a breakaway effort to kill the game, but it came to nothing.
Annagh United 3 Moyola Park 2
After just three minutes Chris Dowie capitalised on a defensive mix up to slot past Wright and give the in-form visitors the lead. Three minutes later, McCordick saw his free kick well saved and with only nine minutes gone, Annagh were on level terms as Paget volleyed Stretton's free kick past Maguire.
On 13 minutes, McCann turned well to cross and Jay Gardiner’s strike trimmed the crossbar. McCordick was denied by keeper Maguire's face from all of five yards out from Bells delivery and Phily Craig put his effort just wide shortly after.
It was all Annagh as Stretton hit the post with 10 minutes to go until the break and the home side were rewarded on 40 minutes when Francis McCann leapt highest to head McCordick’s cross into the roof of the net.
The second half started quieter than the opening minutes. Moyola had efforts via Walls and Henning and on 65 minutes Annagh were awarded a penalty, only for referee Burns to change his mind following a discussion with his assistant.
In the 74th minute, the away dugout celebrated when Michael Walsh put his side level for the second time following a mix up in the home back line.
As with last week's game at Glebe, it was Shea Campbell who came off the bench to grab a fine headed goal from Bell’s free kick delivery with 10 minutes to play, before Campbell and McCordick both failed to connect with McCann's cross on 82 minutes.
Annagh finished with a flourish as Maquire just got ahead of Adam Nesbitt from Campbell's cross on 90 minutes, the latter drilling an effort just past the upright on 92 minutes. With the last kick of the ball, a neat McCann/Skelton combination set Nesbitt one on one against the on rushing Maguire, but Annagh's fine home form continued to the end to ensure another three valuable league points.
Banbridge Town 2 Killymoon Rangers 0
Banbridge Town returned to winning ways with a comfortable three points against an improved Killymoon Rangers outfit at Crystal Park.
Town had held a one goal lead for a long period and although they dominated proceedings, they kept their supporters in great suspense before sealing the game with some 20 minutes remaining.
Manager Ryan Watson left out three of his first choice strike force as a result of some disappointing finishing in recent weeks and brought in Neil Watson for his first start of the season together with the available Mattie McCartan and Johnny Kernoghan.
It certainly was an inspired move from the manager as it was left winger Kernoghan who made an instant impact with a well taken fourth minute goal to put Banbridge in the driving seat. Just to prove a point, it was Neil Watson who started the move with a neat deft pass to Steven O'Neill, who raced fully 40 yards before squaring to the unmarked Johnny Kernoghan who finished to the net.
Town had a similar start to their last league game, but on this occasion were determined not to concede a quick equaliser. Killymoon did push forward and Town keeper Stephen Cairnduff was called into action to hold a shot from Young after the Cookstown man had played a neat one-two with fellow forward Greer.
The Banbridge back four of Waddell, Buchanan, Greene, and Wilson were solid throughout and gave great cover to their keeper all afternoon. After 10 minutes, Mattie McCartan saw his drive spilled by the visiting keeper Stewart, but defender McElhatton was in the right place to clear the danger.
On 22 minutes, Killymoon's Young fired wildly over after a foul had been awarded. Neil Watson was proving an able target man and his link play with Kernoghan and the overlapping Wilson spelled danger for Killymoon after 27 minutes.
Indeed, it took a fine clearing header from Martin to clear Wilson's inviting cross. Three minutes later, a clever interception by Glen Waddell sent Mattie McCartan racing down the right, and when Watson's head met the former's fine cross, it took a great one-handed save from Stewart to prevent his side from going further behind.
The visitor's goal was leading a charmed life and on 35 minutes, Johnny Kernoghan found the side netting after fine combination work with the bustling Watson. The latter might have done better, however, when he shot over after 42 minutes following a corner on the left.
Greer was well wide with an effort for the visitors in a rare Killymoon attack.
Town started the second half in the same attacking mood and should have doubled their lead after 56 minutes. A quick turn and pass from Steven O'Neill found Mattie McCartan, whose cross was completely missed by the visiting keeper. However, Johnny Kernoghan's shot at the open goal lacked pace and a Killymoon defender got back to clear off the line.
Although living off scraps, the Cookstown men did give Town a scare after 59 minutes with a dangerous shot that flashed across goal and wide. Killymoon keeper Gary Stewart did well on 62 minutes to save with his feet from the marauding Steven O'Neill, although if the latter had spotted the unmarked Neil Watson a certain goal was on the cards.
O'Neill more than made up for this after 71 minutes when after showing good control, he skinned the right back before laying the ball on to the inrushing Mark Teggart (a 65th minute substitution for Johnny Kernoghan) and the little winger made no mistake to send Town 2 -0 ahead and in a more comfortable position.
Gary Boyle replaced a tiring Neil Watson and Conor Downey was Banbridge's last substitute as he replaced Glen Waddell. James Wilson had a cracking 20 yard drive held by Stewart on 86 minutes and Boyle brought a diving save from the busy Stewart just before the end after receiving a pass from Downey.
Next Saturday (March 15) Town are on their travels once again when they face a difficult assignment against surprise Irish Cup semi-finalists Queens Univ. (Kick-Off 3.00 p.m. at The Dub).
The winner of Town's Lucky Bonus Ball (for Wednesday 5 March) was Damian Wilson. To play Bonus Ball supporters should contact Michael Gribbon.
Sport and Leisure Swifts 0 PSNI 3
At a very windy Glen Road Heights, the PSNI maintained promotion pressure on Armagh and Queen's with this 3 - 0 victory against a very spirited and determined basement club.
It was almost 30 minutes before any team pressurised the opponent's goalkeeper, when the PSNI claimed the first corner. It was successfully defended.
A minute later saw a Sport and Leisure midfielder unfortunately back heading the ball, which fell at the feet of Lukasz Adamczyk just inside the 18 yard box. Seeing he was being closed down, he passed the ball to his fellow striker Peter Steele who had no difficulty opening the scoring.
On 43 minutes, Adamczyk got his name on the score sheet when he slotted home a loose ball after Damien Nugent made a fantastic one handed save from a well struck Ryan Berry shot.
The PSNI were now in the driving seat and on 63 minutes, a long clearance found Adamczyk on the half way line. His perfect pass found Steele inside the 18 yard box. Despite being circled by three defenders, he managed a right footed shot, only to see it blocked by one of his close markers.
The ball rebounded and with his left foot he placed the ball outside the reach of the diving Nugent to score his second of the afternoon.
Both teams kept playing attacking football and both goalkeepers were tested and produced some fine saves. The PSNI goal saw a different keeper for the third week running. Young Ross Hunter produced a couple of excellent saves and kept a clean sheet.
Wakehurst 3 Portstewart 3
With both these teams struggling for consistency, the likely outcome would be a
share of the spoils — and that wouldn't necessarily be the boost either of them needed.
The Portstewart defence was all at sea as Wakehurst left wing-back David Gage found himself totally unmarked on the edge of the six yard box to head Conor Gregg's corner kick powerfully into the roof of the net, on eight minutes.
The visitor’s striker, Nigel Turner, was almost in for the equaliser six minutes later but Andy Laughlin's last ditch tackle denied him a clear opportunity and a minute later Wakehurst should have doubled their lead.
Jason Paul robbed James Peden 20 yards from goal and released his strike partner Conor Gregg, who shot from an acute angle when a return pass to the unmarked Paul would have been the better option.
Gage had a great opportunity on 33 minutes after John Neill's misplaced header didn't clear the initial danger, but his effort was just wide of the upright.
These two missed opportunities allowed the Ports a way back and a minute later the game was all square. Lee Forgrave, who had been causing the home defence problems throughout the opening half-hour with his intelligent play, found Turner who hit the ball on the half volley from 15 yards and it thundered past Marc Maybin.
Gary Quinn almost put the visitors ahead as he received a great ball from Forgrave, but his shot went just wide of the far upright. With half-time looming, Conor Ross broke from his defensive duties and his cross-come shot deceived Joel Maddison and finished in the back of the net.
Wakehurst missed another good opportunity on 53 minutes after Paul had put Laughlin in on goal but the central midfielder pulled his shot just wide of the goal.
Portstewart were on level terms after 66 minutes. Forgrave was the tormentor again with a neat pass from the right to Gary Quinn and his mis-hit shot bobbled over the line with Maybin wrong footed.
Both teams made substitutions on 75 minutes, Quinn being replaced with Chris Hanson for the visitors and Jordan Lemon coming on for the injured Stephen Mellon.
Lemon's impact was immediate as Conor Gregg's through ball was chased to the bye-line by the young midfielder and he managed to drill his cross to the near post, where Laughlin side-footed the ball past Maddison.
With time running out, the visitors pushed forward at every opportunity, but were unable to trouble Maybin. With the game into the second minute of additional time and Wakehurst awaiting the final whistle, Portstewart grabbed an equaliser.
A strong shot from Turner was going well wide of the mark when it cannoned off Forgrave's head and ricocheted off the far upright past the stranded Maybin.
A late blow for the home team who thought the three points were in the bag, but on the balance of play neither team deserved to lose and a point apiece was a fair outcome.
Coca-Cola Intermediate Cup Quarter-final
Ballyclare Comrades 1 Armagh City 3
Armagh stung the home side with an early goal on nine minutes, when a short back pass allowed Stephen Murray to charge down keeper Paddy Flood's attempted clearance just outside the box, and the ball ricocheted back into the empty net .
It was not long before the visitors increased their lead. In the 16th minute, Stephen Murray found himself in space in the box and produced a neat finish from seven yards.
Five minutes later, Comrades were back in the game when Chris Trussell converted a penalty after Kyle Agnew had been brought down in the box.
Any momentum the home side had started to build up was thrown away on 32 minutes when defender Chris Getty received a straight red card for a reckless tackle near the halfway line.
Inside the first minute of the second half, Armagh consolidated their position with a third goal, Kevin Keegan converting after a good move.
They gamely kept searching for a way back into the game, but Armagh were able hold onto their lead and seal an impressive result
Institute 1 Coagh United 1 (AET) Institute won 4-3 on penalties
A heroic performance from the Coagh United goalkeeper was not enough to stop 'Stute from going through into the semi-final of the Intermediate Cup in normal time.
With the Coagh stopper in inspired form it took a fine volley from Micheal McCrudden to send the tie into extra time. Coagh had taken the lead in the 55th minute when Joel Bradley fired past the helpless Marty Gallagher, but the leagues basement club could only hold onto the lead for all of 10 minutes.
Their centre half misjudged a clearance and the ever-alert McCrudden was on hand to volley home the equaliser. Coagh defended for their lives for the remainder of the game and the match finished at 1-1 after extra time. This of course meant that the tie would be decided penalties.
Coagh scored their first and Stephen Parkhouse missing for 'Stute. 1-0 Coagh
Coagh missed their second, with Darren McCauley missing for 'Stute. 1-0 Coagh
Coagh missed their third, with Aaron Walsh scoring for 'Stute. 1-1.
Coagh scored their fourth, with John Curran scoring for 'Stute. 2-2.
Coagh scored their fifth, with Micheal McCrudden scoring for 'Stute. 3-3.
Coagh missed their sixth, with Darren McFadden missing for 'Stute. 3-3.
Coagh missed their seventh, with Declan McKeever scoring for 'Stute to send them into the Intermediate Cup Semi Final.
Tobermore United 1 Knockbreda 2
Knockbreda were firm favourites to progress in this much anticipated cup tie and whilst that was the final outcome, it was the first division outfit that were the happier side to hear the final whistle.
Tobermore got off to a flying start and went ahead with barely a minute on the clock when Colin Donaldson rose highest to head past the advancing Brian Neeson.
It took the Belfast men some time to settle and Tobermore could have had a second in that time but Knockbreda's quality eventually got them on top and it was no surprise when the equaliser arrived.
James Wright was all alone at the back post and headed past Paul Wells on 39 minutes and five minutes later the same player add a second with a free kick from just outside the box the that gave Wells no chance.
Tobermore made a couple of changes at the start of the second half and transformed their performance. James McGahan replaced Steven Lyons and he gave the visitors back four a torrid time.
Knockbreda were on the back foot and their cause wasn't helped when substitute Eddie Williamson was shown a straight red for a bad tackle with 10 minutes to go.
After the dust settled, the visitors rode the storm to progress to the semi final.