Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Championship round-ups, March 22

Championship One

Ballyclare Comrades 0 Lisburn Distillery 3

After a fairly even open quarter of the game, it was the visitors who opened the scoring. In the 24th minute, a free-kick lofted into the box wasn’t dealt with by Comrades and from the ensuing scramble David Wright stabbed the ball into the net from six yards out.

Distillery proceeded to look the better side against an out of sorts home outfit. They increased their lead on 66 minutes when Stephen Doyle fired home from 10 yards, rounding off a swift counter attack.

The result was put beyond doubt in the 76th minute when Nathan McConnell converted from five yards, after an initial shot had been blocked by keeper Paddy Flood.

Bangor 0 Carrick Rangers 3

Carrick Rangers boosted hopes of finishing in a top two position with a 3-0 victory over their injury-depleted hosts at Bangor Fuels Arena. Bangor played with 10 men from 22 minutes onwards after home keeper Darren Gibbons was shown the red card by referee Simon Creaney.

The visitors played a fast-moving game from the off and home skipper Dean Youle had to look sharp on four minutes to block a 12 yard drive by Carrick striker Richard Gibson.

From Conor McCloskey's corner on the left, Gibbons had to look sharp to push a header by Glenn Taggart round the right post. Six minutes later at the other end, it was central defender Taggart's turn to save his team as he deflected Andy Morrow's shot from 14 yards past the left upright.

The visitors took the lead on the quarter hour when midfielder Ryan McCann fired a 25 yard free-kick for a foul on Aaron Smyth past a helpless Gibbons into the top left hand corner.

The visitors added a second goal six minutes later with a neat three-man move. Conor McCloskey sent a low ball inside from the right to striker Graeme Arthur, who slid a pass back inside for Jody Lynch to pass the ball into the net from 10 yards.

Seconds later home keeper Gibbons brought down the lively Gibson five yards inside the area as the forward ran clear of the home offside trap.

Gibbons was shown a red card and right winger Jordan Forsythe took over between the posts. The sub keeper reacted quickly to block Graeme McCloskey's hard-hit shot.

Five minutes later, Carrick were relieved to see a curling shot by home striker Andy Morrow fly just over the angle of the right post and crossbar.

On 34 minutes, Bangor winger Grant Gardiner's 25 yard free-kick from wide on the right was well held by Carrick keeper Simon Steele on his line.

On 37 minutes a clever one-two between Arthur and Gibson saw Gibson slam a 12 yard rising drive against the home crossbar, while five minutes later Bangor striker Ethan Boylan's low drive from the left side of the area was just wide of the target.

Carrick all but sealed the points when they hit Bangor with a third goal just two minutes after the restart. Marksman Richard Gibson gave sub keeper Forsythe no chance with a perfectly executed bicycle kick from six yards to convert Lynch's pinpoint cross from the left.

On 53 minutes, McCloskey slammed a 35 yard shot a yard over the Bangor crossbar, while four minutes later at the other end a Bangor move saw Boylan and Dom Melly combine to set up a chance for Barry Walsh, but the midfielder's header was into the keeper's grateful arms.

Most of the game was now in the Bangor half of the pitch but shots on goal were few and far between. On 73 minutes Carrick midfielder Ryan McCann sent a five yard shot over the home goal and two minutes later, Andy Morrow's shot from 10 yards was tipped over by visitors' keeper Steele.

Bangor missed the chance of a consolation goal on 78 minutes when Boylan headed a corner from Gardiner just wide of the left upright. At the other end, a raking shot from the edge of the box by Lynch brought an excellent save from stand-in keeper Forsythe, who finger-tipped the ball over the left angle of crossbar and post.

H&W Welders 4 Coagh United 0

The Welders continued their rise up the table with a comfortable 4-0 victory over basement side Coagh as goals from Beattie, Cockcroft, Burrows and an own goal saw off the opposition.

In the early stages Coagh went on the attack and did not look like a side battling relegation. With the first half approaching the half way mark it was the Welders who opened through Gareth Beattie netting from a William Armstrong pass.

Almost immediately, Ryan Deans had a great opportunity to increase the lead only to see his effort go wide.

Coagh had an opportunity to square things when Stephen Lamont hit the upright.

Cahoon went close with a fine effort and then goal number two arrived just before half time. From a melee in the goalmouth, it appeared to be an own goal.

By now it was the home team in control with Coagh's efforts few and far between. Deans had another effort foiled when he took a great ball from Chris Middleton only to see it go the wrong side of the post.

It was all Welders by this stage and further goals always looked a possibility. With three minutes remaining two more goals arrived, firstly Stephen Cockcroft running half the length of the pitch to plant the ball firmly in the net, before Matty Burrows notched the fourth after good work by Cockcroft



Championship Two

PSNI 0 Queens University 0

This top of the table clash lived up to all its expectations, with goals the only thing missing from the game. It was Queen's who left Newforge the more satisfied.

The PSNI edged the game and Keith Wilson in goals didn't have a save to make for the duration of the 90 minutes, whereas Declan Brown, in the Queen's goal, pulled off a fine save in the first half, when he tipped over a Robert Knox touch on from a Ryan Berry free-kick.

On 75 minutes, his outstretched legs prevented Stephen Leitch from scoring and in the 82nd minute, an excellent diving fingertip save turned Lukasz Adamczyk's header round the post.

Soon after, James Lavery broke through the PSNI defence but was closed down and his effort on goal went over the crossbar.

As the clock approached the 90th minute both teams looked for the elusive goal, but it was not to be.

The game was played at a frantic pace, with both teams showing why they were sitting close to the top of the league, with fine attractive football. The only thing missing was a moment of magic to break the deadlock.

Wakehurst 3 Ballymoney United 3

The previous meeting of these two clubs served up a 3-3 scoreline and they repeated it at Mill Meadow, Castledawson.

Wakehurst managed to throw away a 3-0 lead in that game and not to be outdone, Ballymoney United returned the compliment, racing into a 2-0 lead before handing the home team a lifeline just before the interval.

Gerard Gillan struck for the visitors after only three minutes to stun Wakehurst and just as they were working their way into the game, Hugh Og Boyle hit number two on 37 minutes and it looked a long way back for the home side, especially after losing keeper Marc Maybin through injury.

But with the half-time interval looming, Andy Laughlin powered his way into the box to halve the deficit.

Four minutes after the break Wakehurst were level, Jason Paul doing the damage and the home team were now in the ascendancy.

A curling free-kick from Conor Gregg on 65 minutes just missed the target, but two minutes later the same player had better luck, picking up Laughlin's pass and firing his shot across Bryan Moore in the visitors’ goal and into the net.

On 70 minutes, Jason Paul broke free on the right and his shot cannoned off the crossbar. Wakehurst continued to press and a David Gage header caused problems in the Ballymoney defence on 80 minutes.

Wakehurst were reduced to 10 men after 86 minutes, the referee brandishing a second yellow to Conor Ross when he and Johnny Stewart collided on the touchline.

The game had moved into the 92nd minute when Gerard Gillan worked an opening on the right and despite Ryan Gregg's challenge, the referee played advantage to the Ballymoney player, whose cross was cleared by Gage.

The referee's assistant then indicated to stop play, after which the referee awarded Ballymoney a free-kick for the initial challenge from Gregg.

With a second bite of the cherry, Gillan's well struck free-kick was mishandled by substitute keeper Ryan Curry and, under pressure from Stewart, the ball ended up in the back of the net for 3-3.

Lurgan Celtic 1 Annagh United 1

Celtic started the brighter in this local derby and made several good scoring chances, although the visitors defended well to keep them at bay.

Campbell was posing a threat for Annagh as they made inroads upfield, but he was well marshalled by Montgomery in the centre of Celtic’s defence, in which McVeigh and McAnallen were outstanding in snuffing out any threatening moves down the left side.

The first half ended in stalemate, but the second period wasn't long started when the visitors took the lead with a controversial penalty after they were awarded a free-kick out on the left side and with the referee speaking to two Celtic players, a quick kick was taken.

Celtic appealed for offside and as the player bore down on keeper Fox's goal, he was fouled with the official pointing to the spot for a penalty.

After several moments of protests, Campbell calmly slotted home to give the visitors the lead.

Shortly after this, the Annagh keeper took a high ball and went down injured, although it was disputed whether or not contact had been made.

Celtic manager Malone remonstrated with the referee and he was given his marching orders.

After a few minutes, the game settled down and the home side levelled the score when Fitzpatrick passed to Malone, who cut in from the left, and planted the ball into the far corner of the net.

Glebe Rangers 2 Banbridge Town 1

Glebe's revival under Peter Kearns continued with three points from this league encounter against Banbridge Town at the Joey Dunlop Centre on Saturday.

On a day containing a number of fine individual displays, it was Chris Nicholl who caught the eye as he provided a fine demonstration of centre forward play which lacked only the goal his overall performance merited.

Glebe started brightly with David McVicker testing Cairnduff and then Henry beating two men in a mazy run. However, the finish failed to match the approach work and it was the visitors who were next to threaten when Kernoghan's cross was headed over by Neil Watson.

Nicholl almost broke the deadlock in the 19th minute when he headed a Marks corner against the bar and when the rebound fell to the same player, Cairnduff pulled off a magnificent save to keep the scoreline blank.

A fine ball from home skipper Marks then found McVicker, but his cross was cleared by the Town defence with Nicholl appearing to be caught with a high boot as he looked set to finish. Despite enjoying the majority of possession, Glebe suffered a scare when Watson's effort deflected off Blair. However, McIlveen was able to gather and the hosts continued to press forward.

The woodwork rescued the visitors again when Henry's clever chip struck the crossbar and the forward then turned the ball wide when he seized on to McVicker's lob over Cairnduff, who had raced from his goal-line in an attempt to clear.

The visitors were quickest out of the blocks in the second period and were rewarded in the 48th minute when neat interplay between McParland and Kernoghan saw the latter produce a left-wing cross which was turned in by Watson.

Stung into action, Marks, leading by example yet again, broke forward and his cross found Henry, whose diving header was comfortably held by Cairnduff.

Substitute Ian Christie was next to test the visiting keeper before the equaliser came from an unexpected source when Alan Shepherd deflected a shot from Kennoway past Cairnduff to draw the hosts level.

Controversy reigned in the 63rd minute when Stephen Jones received a straight red after a challenge on Nicholl with the consensus that a yellow card may have sufficed.

Boosted by the numerical advantage, Marks released Nicholl, who was only denied by Cairnduff bravely blocking at the striker's feet.

Nicholl featured once more when a barnstorming run saw him feed Christie, who rounded the over-worked Cairnduff but was unable to prevent the ball going out of play.

Man of the match Nicholl was in action yet again in the 35th minute, holding off a number of challenges before forcing Cairnduff into action. The inability to take their chances almost came back to haunt Glebe when Buchanan's header almost deceived McIlveen, but the young keeper just managed to deflect it over the bar.

With the clock ticking away and a draw on the cards, Nicholl flicked on McIlveen's goalkick to Kennoway who in turn fed Henry. The frontman needed no second invitation and raced through to fire home what proved to be a last minute winner for Glebe.

There was still time for a final assault by the 10 men and McIlveen denied Teggart with a fine stop to seal the victory and continue Glebe's push towards the top half of the table.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


From Belfast Telegraph