NIFL Championship round-up, February 6
All the latest from Championship One and Two:
Ards 4 Annagh United 0
As early as the second minute, Ards had their opponents under threat, as Ross Arthurs saw his shot blocked on the Annagh goal line. The visitors showed their worth on 18 minutes, when a ball across the Ards box reached Jaime Gardiner, but his well-hit half volley flew wide of goal. On 28 minutes, Tommy Lambe had a low drive deflected away from the Annagh goal, while three minutes later, a neat take down by Gary Dorrian saw him feed Craig McMillen on the left and he was denied by a near post save from Ciaran Fox. The game’s opening goal arrived on 33 minutes. A corner was swung into the penalty area by David McAllister from the left, and Denver Gage was on hand to head into the Annagh net. Ards doubled their lead just four minutes after the restart, when a short lay off by Jordan Baker put the ball into Gary Dorrian’s path and he calmly slotted it past the goalkeeper. Ards were well on top and when a third goal did arrive, it was no more than Niall Currie’s team deserved. The goal itself was a touch of misfortune suffered by keeper Fox, who let slip an underwhelming shot by James Cully, to end any hopes his side might have had of staging a comeback. The game’s final goal came four minutes from the end, with Fox again suffering a faux pas at the worst possible moment. The experienced keeper came a cropper as he went to deal with a low shot from Browne that would squirm off his palms and into the net.
Donegal Celtic 1 Institute 4
Two goals from Jamie Dunne and one from Stephen O’Donnell, with Thomas Conlon’s equaliser sandwiched in between, meant the Waterside men were in complete control at the break, and O’Donnell’s second goal right at the death just put the icing on the cake. Institute broke the deadlock on eleven minutes after Dunne’s left wing cross found Stephen O’Donnell at the back post, and the big centre-back made no mistake heading home from close range. Moments later, Stute doubled their advantage, this time Dunne fired past Donegal Celtic keeper McConville. A defensive mistake let DC back into the game when they scored on 25 minutes, when Conlon burst through the Stute defence and blocked Gallagher’s clearance before firing home into the empty net. It didn’t take the Waterside men long to restore their two-goal advantage as Gareth Brown’s teasing left-wing centre found Dunne and he gleefully made no mistake, heading home past McConville from six yards. Right at the death, O’Donnell amazingly scored a fourth in stoppage time, when he broke clear of the DC defence to latch onto substitute Robbie Hume’s through-ball before calmly side-footing home from just inside the box.
H&W Welders 3 Ballyclare Comrades 0
Played in atrocious conditions with strong winds and heavy rain, the Welders got another three league points at Tillysburn Park. Both sides attempted to play football but conditions proved it difficult. It took 40 minutes before a goal was scored and that came from Karl Devine finishing off good work from Scott Davidson. With the home side missing Sammy Devine and William Armstrong through suspension and Ethan Boylan due to work commitments, it gave latest signing Darren Nixon a place on the bench. On the stroke of half time, Scott Davidson saw his effort go wide. The busier of the two keepers was Dougherty in the home goal with a few eye catching stops, one in particular from Chris Trussell. Ballyclare were very much in the game but with neither side conceding anything, goal number two for the Welders changed things. A David Rainey corner landed in the penalty area, and Dan McMurray, playing his 200th game, finished it off in the back of the net. With the game barely restarted, it was three when Scott Davidson netted, taking a great ball from Rainey.
Lisburn Distillery 2 Bangor 2
Bangor took a seventh minute lead when midfield dynamo Barry Walsh ran through from the left side of the area to shoot low from 18 yards and beat home keeper Gerard McErlean at the foot of the left post. The Whites were back on level terms on 11 minutes. Lively right winger Darius Roohi ran through to slip a pass from the left edge of the area to opposite number Matthew Rooney, who shot just inside the right hand post. Keeper Darren Gibbons got a hand to the ball but couldn't prevent it crossing the line. With the rain now pouring down, Distillery grabbed the lead on 43 minutes. Gibbons did well to get a hand to Halfpenny's shot from the right side of the box, but the ball spun to Roohi, who followed up to slam home from eight yards. Bangor levelled the affair on 62 minutes, when striker Paul McDowell worked his way past a couple of defenders into the area to shoot for goal. The ball rebounded off a home player to fall kindly for an alert McMullan to push over the line from a yard out at the far post. Bangor were now buzzing around the home area, but a determined defence made it hard to find a way to goal, and in the closing minutes of the game, Distillery mounted a couple of breakaway attacks, coming closest on 88 minutes when sub Kevin Hughes crossed low for fellow sub Rhys Grainger to slide in and knock the ball wide of the target from a couple of yards.
Limavady United 1 Glebe Rangers 1
Cathair Friel experienced the highs and lows of football on Saturday, first claiming Limavady United's league goal-scoring record for a season but then being needlessly sent off for dissent in injury time. The visitors were clearly not prepared to roll over for the league leaders, and went close to taking a shock lead on 22 minutes, when a corner from the right was met by Dunlop in the six-yard box, but his bullet header flashed past the post. Friel was starting to find space down the left flank, and on 34 minutes, had a gilt-edged chance to score when through on goal, but he was foiled by Fullerton. However, he was not to be denied, as within a minute he dashed through the Rangers' defence and shot low into the bottom corner of the net for a goal typical of the new record holder. Glebe were stubborn in opposition, and on 66 minutes, they equalised. Barr, who shrugged off a challenge in the box and ploughed through a forest of players before the ball found its way to Christie who took advantage of disarray in the United back four to gleefully prod the ball home. United were now somewhat hanging on, and had a narrow escape on 74 minutes, when Carson had enough space to trap the ball in the box, swivel and crash the ball off the underside of the crossbar. The afternoon was compounded when Friel, already on a yellow card for dissent, talked himself into a second in the 90th minute.
Moyola Park 6 Dollingstown 1
Moyola opened the scoring in the 23rd minute, when a disputed corner from Magill was headed goal-wards by Gallagher and a defender might have got the last touch to head it past McPartlan. Two minutes later, the game changed when a header back from a visiting defender to McPartlan was dropped by the keeper and as Dowie was about to score, he was bundled over. The referee pointed to the penalty spot and also showed McPartlan a red card with Hughes replacing him in goals. McIlhatton fired the penalty past Hughes to extend the home side's lead. In the 38th minute Gallagher made the score 3-0 when a fired a shot from outside the box across goal past Hughes and into the far corner. With four minutes left of the first half, a header back from Moffett towards Hughes went past the keeper, who stopped in on the line only to Taggart fire in from close range. The visitors got a goal back in the 52nd minute when a run down the left from Tomelty found Thompson, who found the net. With 20 minutes left, Dowie slid the ball through and Taggart fired the ball past Hughes to make the score 5-1. As the game moved into the last five minutes, a long ball from Gallagher found Black on the right, and his cross was fired past Hughes by Dowie.
Newington 0 Dundela 1
Dundela recorded their first back-to-back wins of the season with this narrow, but deserved, victory over Newington. It was TJ Murray, signed on loan from Linfield for a second time, who turned out to be the match winner, with a first half goal. The Duns were good value for the win, although had a few nervous moments near the end as the hosts rallied, but the closest they came was an effort which struck the post with a little over five minutes remaining. A second clean sheet in a row must also be pleasing to the management team of Murphy and Gourley, the latter relegating himself to the bench to make room for Murray. However, a tough test awaits next week at Wilgar, when PSNI are the visitors, but The Duns will be confident of securing another three points as the battle for much-needed points continues.
Portstewart 1 Banbridge Town 3
Chances fell to both teams in a scoreless first hallf. The opening goal came on the hour mark, when Portstewart were awarded a penalty and Neill stepped up to score. King, Anderson, McGrath and Kingsberry were pushing Banbridge forward at every opportunity as they strove for the equaliser. Their pressure finally paid off after 67 minutes. Stuart King was fouled on the edge of the box and he calmly placed the ball on the mark and curved it superbly round the wall and into the net past Maddison. Banbridge were now in the ascendancy, and it was no surprise when they took a 2-1 lead after 78 minutes. Moffatt sent Ryan Gourley racing through, and he cut inside to find the unmarked Stuart King, and the Town's man-of-the-match gave Maddison no chance with a great finish. Shortly after this, Mattie McCartan replaced Chris Kingsberry to add energy to a tiring midfield who had all put in a magnificent shift. The only damper on a terrific afternoon for Town was the sight of Neil Barr being stretchered off after 86 minutes after a heavy clash. His replacement was transfer deadline signing Jamie Smith, and the Portadown man had a dream debut when he scored with his first touch, after fine approach work from Kevin Anderson and Mattie McCartan to secure three valuable points.
Queens University 3 Wakehurst 1
Connor Mulholland, back in the team after a long absence through injury, put Queen’s ahead after two minutes, when he curled a shot from the edge of the box into the far corner, which left Wakehurst keeper McAuley Cairns with no chance. Ten minutes later, Patrick Stuart’s powerful shot, helped by a slight deflection, flew into the net for Queen’s second goal. Wakehurst got a foothold in the game and Conor Gregg’s free kick struck the top of the bar and it was no surprise when they got one back, two minutes before the break. A long cross from the right wing cleared the Queen’s defenders and Conor Gregg, who regularly scores against Queen’s, pounced to head the ball past Declan Brown. Wakehurst started the second half well, but Queen’s broke away and Mulholland got his second, rolling the ball past Cairns with his left foot. Wakehurst lost a player to a second yellow card and Queen’s dominated for the last 20 minutes, but missed a string of chances, including some excellent saves by Cairns. Just before the end, Mulholland of Queen’s and Ross of Wakehurst were dismissed by referee Burns.