NIFL Championship round-up, April 16
All the latest from Championship One and Two:
Armagh City 4 Ards 3
City took the lead with just four minutes on the clock, when Stefan Lavery fired an unstoppable right-foot effort thundering into the net off the underside of the bar from the right hand side of the penalty area. The lead was doubled in the eighth minute, when the Ards defence failed to deal with Sean Mallon’s long-free kick and Lavery was on hand to nod the ball over the stranded keeper and into the corner of the net. Ards responded immediately and were back in the game following a swift attack from the restart, which put Karl McCombe through on goal, and his left-footed effort beat Sean Morgan. The visitors levelled the match when Jordan Baker broke on the right wing and crossed for McCombe to apply a simple finish to make it 2-2 after just 18 minutes played. On the half-hour mark, Ards grabbed the lead with Ross Arthurs on-hand to finish firmly into the bottom corner after a neat move. City continued to push forward and were back on level terms within minutes. Lavery completed a spectacular first half performance to grab his hat-trick with a neat finish from Shea McGerrigan’s excellent left-wing cross. Ards were reduced to 10 men when John Convery was sent off, receiving two yellow cards inside a matter of minutes. Ards had the ball in the net on the hour mark but the assistant referee’s flag wiped it out for offside. In the 74th minute, Shea McGerrigan crossed for Donnelly, who was given space to control the ball, turn and volley left-footed into the top corner to give Armagh a 4-3 lead. McCombe was then sent off, reducing the league leaders to nine men with just minutes remaining, which City saw out to record an impressive win.
H&W Welders 2 Larne 1
Larne went ahead after six minutes, through Scott Irvine, who slotted home from six yards. It was mainly Larne looking the more likely to score again, as the Welders seldom bothered Brennan in the visiting goal. After half an hour, the home side got a half-chance, but Scott Davidson saw his effort go wide. With half time approaching, the Welders upped their game a little, but as the whistle went, it remained 1-0. Transformed after the break, The Welders took the initiative, and the confidence in the side started to show. David Rainey notched the equaliser when he found the net from an acute angle on 65 minutes. Now the game had turned completely, with the Welders bossing the game, and went all-out attack, seeking a winning goal. With the home side throwing everything at the overworked Larne defence, David Rainey was brought down in the box with only four minutes remaining, and up stepped Scott Davidson to score the penalty to seal a great victory. With Ards losing at Armagh, this leaves only a point between them and the Welders. With both sides having four games left, it promises to be a keen finish.
Bangor 5 Donegal Celtic 0
A Gerard McMullan hat-trick in the space of 27 minutes was the highlight in a goal-rush which started on six minutes, when McMullan ran in from the left, beating a couple of markers just inside the area before unleashing a swerving drive which beat keeper Sean McIlhone. Just three minutes later, he was beaten again, when McMullan fired low from just inside the area. The first real chance for the visitors came on 22 minutes, when Joe Todd cut in from the right, but home keeper Darren Gibbons deflected the rising shot onto the angle of bar and post to be cleared. Gerard McMullen completed his hat-trick on 33 minutes, when he neatly side-stepped the keeper before shooting home. Three minutes later, McMullan turned provider as he crossed for Andy Long to head home from eight yards. With the result virtually decided, the pace slowed after the break and Bangor added their fifth goal on 65 minutes, when Paul McDowell shot from the edge of the area. The ball rebounded off a defender back to him, and this time, McDowell made no mistake and fired waist-high into the net.
Institute 2 Loughgall 0
Loughgall went close on 22 minutes, but after a super first touch, Daniel Ryan’s strike, from the right hand side of the box, was kept out by Stute goalkeeper Marty Gallagher. A minute later, a clever piece of play by McCrudden and Brown ended with the Gobnascale man failing to keep his shot on target. The Villagers had a good opportunity on 30 minutes, but Steven Ferguson blasted over, after Ryan’s cut-back had picked him out on the penalty spot. McCrudden should have given Stute the lead two minutes later when good refereeing by Stephen Wallace allowed play to continue, but the ex-Ballinamallard United man was denied by Buchanan. In a disappointing second half, Jamie McIntyre wasted the best chance for the home side, and just when the game looked to heading to a scoreless draw, up stepped Brown. From a tight angle, he nutmegged Buchanan, after being quickest to reaction inside the six yard area, as the visitors failed to clear their lines. Within a minute, youngster Pomeroy doubled their advantage, when fellow substitute Stephen Mills fed the teenager, who showed super composure to chip the ball over the out-rushing Buchanan.
Knockbreda 3 Annagh United 3
Annagh survived a scare right at the start, when a deflected shot hit their crossbar. The away team did, however, take the lead on two minutes with their first attack. A long ball down their right evaded the Breda defence, with striker Park taking the ball into the corner of the box and finishing well with a drive low into the opposite corner. Breda levelled on 15 minutes, when a ball through the middle played in Daniel Hughes, who coolly finished. On 25 minutes, Breda went ahead when McCain collected the ball centrally some 20 yards from goal and fired a great shot low past the keeper. Four minutes into the second half, Breda extended their lead when Wilson cut into the box, beat two defenders, and fired home. However, Breda could not finish off the game and on 72 minutes, Park scored his second goal with a close-range finish following a deflection. The comeback was complete when, in the 88th minute, Annagh broke down the right, and although Breda keeper McBride made a good save, the ball was pushed into the net by Neale.
PSNI 3 Dollingstown 1
There was little to pick and choose between either team until the 37th minute, when Kyle Agnew was fouled inside the penalty area. Lukasz Adamczyk took the penalty and sent Chris Fletcher the wrong way to put the police one up. On 57 minutes, a short Ryan Berry corner found Stuart Hutchinson inside the Dollingstown penalty area and he appeared to have been fouled... Adamczyk scored again from the spot. The game was effectively finished off in the 63rd minute, when a super strike from the edge of the box by Hutchinson, after a long high free kick in from Berry, was headed down by Adam Wright. The police were coasting, but took their foot off the pedal when a Michael Denver cross from the right wing found the unmarked Gibson in acres of space and he headed the ball in for a consolation goal on the 89th minute. That Dollingstown goal was the first conceded at Newforge in all competitions since November and only the third conceded in 2016 in the league, home or away.
Sport & Leisure Swifts 4 Limavady United 1
Swifts took a fourth minute lead when McCauley was perfectly positioned just outside the box to catch a loose ball with a perfect volley, which flew past Wells in the Roesider’s goal. United took the game to their opponents and were rewarded for their efforts on 14 minutes, with yet another goal from the prolific Friel, who picked up the ball on the right wing, cut inside and made space, before shooting low into the corner to bring him within a goal of the club goalscoring record. Vady had one ruled out for offside two minutes later, and within three minutes of that, Swifts regained the lead. A long throw from the left was met by Largy inside the box, and his looping header slowly dropped into the net, as Wells scrambled in vain to get across his goal. On 22 minutes, Swifts went further ahead when Largy was left unmarked at a corner and could not miss with his close-range header at the back post. The game was over three minutes later, as Lynch administered the coup de grace, slipping the ball underneath Wells, as the visitors were hit on the counter. The second half saw plenty of chances but was devoid of goals, and neither goalkeeper had to make a serious save.
Coagh United 2 Dundela 3
Dundela took the lead just before the 15 minute mark, when TJ Murray was clipped in the penalty area while charging onto a through-ball from Marc Whitford and player-manager Stephen Gourley stepped up to fire the resultant penalty home. The Duns doubled their advantage seconds later, when Colin Manley was fouled as he won the ball back straight from kick off. TJ Murray slammed home when Matty Kerr found the midfielder with a pin-point delivery from the free kick but before the break, Eoghan Quigg reduced arrears when he squeezed his free kick in at the near post. The second period was a cagier affair, with a lot of midfield play and few clear chances. Despite this, Coagh managed to pull themselves level when Dundela conceded a free kick just outside the box, and the ball was fired home just inside the near post. A draw looked on the cards, however with two minutes to go, Matty Burrows sent the Duns support into raptures of delight, finishing off a lovely move when Sofley's perfect pass put him in on goal and the veteran striker made no mistake, firing the winner into the bottom corner.