NIFL Championship round-up, November 14
All the latest from Championship One and Two:
Ballyclare Comrades 3 H&W Welders 3
In an action-packed first half the home side grabbed an early lead, when Chris Trussell fired in a sweet first-time finish from six yards after getting on the end of a ball in from Samuel McIlveen. Seven minutes later, and the Welders were back on level terms, when Michael McLellan produced a finish from seven yards following a low-hit free kick into the box. On 15 minutes, Comrades took the lead again, when Chris Trussell took advantage of a slip by a Welders defender to steal the ball, take it past the keeper and slot home from seven yards. Again though, the lead didn’t last long, as on 19 minutes, Josh Cahoon fired home from eight yards through a crowded box after the home side had failed to clear. On 42 minutes, the visitors hit the front, when a swift move down the right ended with Josh Cahoon scoring again, this time with a crisp strike, low and wide of the ‘keeper from 13 yards. The action continued unabated in the second half, and on 52 minutes, Comrades got an equaliser from the spot; Samuel McIlveen converting after Ryan Deans had been sent off for blocking a Chris Trussell effort with his hand on the line. In the 78th minute, Welders were reduced to nine men, when Craig Harris got a second yellow. However, the home side couldn’t take advantage, despite getting in a number of promising positions.
Lurgan Celtic 2 Larne 3
Celtic dropped last season's top scorer Raymond Fitzpatrick to central defence and took the lead after Dale Malone was fouled in the area, gaining a penalty, which was cooly converted by Chris Lavery. The home side increased their tally when Lavery received the ball on the right and left three defenders in his wake, before letting fly from 25 yards with his left foot, sending the ball into the top right hand corner of the net - a contender for goal of the season. Slack defensive work let Paul Maguire in to reduce the score and referee Peter McGrath awarded the visitors a hotly-disputed penalty, which Guillaume Keke converted. After this, Celtic laid siege to the Larne goal, hitting the bar and having two claims for hand-ball offences turned down, as they kept the pressure on the overworked Larne defence, although they should have regained the lead when Lavery crossed, but Ruairi McCann headed over from four yards. As so often happens, despite all the possession, the home side failed to take advantage, and Paul Maguire stole in to net the winner right on the whistle to claim all the points in what was a tremendous game from first to last minute by two highly committed sides.
Armagh City 3 Bangor 4
Bangor took the lead in the eighth minute when a cross from the left was headed back across goal by Dean Youle, and Andy Morrow was on hand to scramble it home at the back post. City came back, with efforts from Hoey and Lavery, both of which went wide of the target. Bangor might have doubled their lead when John Connolly was forced into a fine save at his near post from a Mark Cooling effort and Andy Morrow blazed an effort over when well placed. City got back on level terms before the interval when Philip Donnelly pulled the ball back for Andrew Hoey and his effort found the corner of the net with the aid of a slight deflection. Four minutes into the half, the visitors took the lead for a second time when an Andrew Long corner was powerfully headed home by Dean Youle. The lead, however, was only held for a few minutes, as Colin Nixon could only divert a fiercely driven cross by Philip Donnelly into his own net. Just after the hour mark, the home side were reduced to 10 men when Eamon Kelly was sent off and the resultant penalty by Cooling gave the visitors the lead for a third time. In the 78th minute, City were awarded a penalty when Wray was adjudged to have handled in the box. Stefan Lavery’s penalty kick was saved by Johns, but Bell put away the rebound to bring the sides level again. Stephen Curry hit the winner for Bangor in the second minute of added time when he broke on the right and fired home.
Lisburn Distillery 0 Knockbreda 2
Knockbreda were the visitors to a very wet but playable New Grovensor and were taking on a home team that had players returning from suspension and a new management team in place, giving hopes of an improved performance in front of a large crowd. Unfortunately for Distillery, it was Breda’s youthful side that dominated from the start. Burns in particular was running riot down the left, but despite his efforts, no-one could get a touch to any of his wonderful crosses. It was, however, from one of his in-swinging corners that Ferguson got a touch and tapped the ball over the line to give Breda a half time lead. The second half was dominated by Breda, who controlled proceedings for the entire 45 minutes. The outstanding Doddsy Johnston made it 2-0 on 55 minutes, and Breda then missed a penalty after good work by the outstanding Dylan Wilson. Lisburn didn't really create a chance and should have suffered a bigger defeat but for the negligence of Breda in front of goals.
Limavady United 4 Newington 0
If titles are won by character, then even this early in the season Paul Owens' team can take justified confidence from this, their best performance of the season. On 12 minutes, McIvor put his head down and galloped half the length of the pitch, cutting a swathe through the visitors' defence before whipping over a low cross from the bye-line which inevitably Friel got to first, nipping in front of his marker and tapping the ball into the net. A game that was already drifting away from the visitors became even more difficult on 23 minutes, when Friel turned provider, scattering defenders in his wake like nine pins, before crossing for Owens to tap in, with a goal markedly similar to the opener. The half ended with a killer third goal, and again, it was one of the highest quality, as Friel saw a gap in the visitors' defence, and played in Conor Harkin, who skipped round Smyth and slipped the ball into the empty net. United continued to play neat, quick football, and got another goal on 63 minutes, with a more traditional tactic. The cross into the box for Morrison to nod down to Friel, who had been left completely unmarked in the box. He had so much time and space that he could afford to steady himself and pick his spot, before smashing the ball into the net.
PSNI 2 Tobermore United 0
Second-placed Tobermore United arrived at Newforge knowing a victory could see them move seven points clear of third-placed PSNI. The efforts to clear the water from the pitch clearly paid dividends as the spectators witnessed one of the best games of football at Newforge in a while. The breakthrough goal came on the 43rd minute when excellent work down the right wing saw a Mark McCullagh cross being met at the far post by the head of Lukasz Adamcyyk, who duly headed into the empty net. A red card for Niall Murray early in the second half then clearly affected Tobermore, as their earlier threats from the first half appeared to disappear, and the police upped the tempo. The second goal of the game came on the 68th minute when an excellent break down the right wing by Joe McWilliams resulted in a perfect cross, which was met by the head of Owen Moody at the near post.
Moyola Park 1 Queens University 1
The visitors had to make a change in the 10th minute, with Robinson replacing the injured Corrigan at right back. In the 26th minute, a dangerous cross from the impressive Hughes was headed clear by McQuillan, but Moyola opened the scoring in the 32nd minute, when a long ball was flicked on by a Queen’s defender into the path of Gregg and he rounded Brown and finished from a tight angle, beating two defenders in the process. Moyola should have doubled their lead in the 40th minute, however, McQuillan headed over following a corner from Gray. The last chance of the first half was when a free kick by Kelly was just missed at the back post by McIlhatton. With half an hour left, the visitors got their equaliser, when a great ball in from Allison on the left was headed past Farniok by O’Hare. With five minutes left, a dangerous cross from Allison for the visitors was held by Farniok and three minutes later, Allison found Lavery, who should have scored, however, Farniok saved to keep the score line 1-1. The last chance of the game fell to the home side, when Dowie found Gregg and he saw his effort blocked, and then Gray saw his shot saved by Brown.
Portstewart 2 Dollingstown 2
DFC made the long trip to Portstewart on Saturday and came away with a share of the points in a thrilling 2-2 draw on a very good surface despite the heavy rainfall. Dollingstown took the lead on 41 minutes, when a great run from the half way by Redpath seen him fouled in the area and Glen Hand converted even though the home keeper got a hand to his effort. Portstewart came out strongly in the second half and equalised on 51 minutes when a floated free kick from out on the left deceived everyone except the diminutive Lee Forgrave who tapped in at the back post. The Dollybirds responded immediately by retaking the lead through Thompson after good work from his strike partner Hand. Credit however to Portstewar,t who equalised on 75 minutes through Mathew Hynds after Marty Hughes lost possession outside the area and Hynds drove home from distance low into the bottom corner. Both teams had great chances to win the game at the end. Portstewart should have wrapped the game up after a quick break down the left, and the normally lethal Thompson was through one-on-one with the keeper, who stood tall and brought off a great save to leave the game all-square.
Banbridge Town 1 Wakehurst 0
Banbridge Town welcomed basement club Wakehurst to Crystal Park for a "six pointer" and a hard-fought game was expected. Boosted by their four-match unbeaten run, Town went into the game with confidence high and a steely determination. Straight from kick off, Town were on the attack, with Downey, Moffat and Gourley causing problems for the visitors' defence but failing to convert any of their chances. Wakehurst gradually worked their way into the game, but Town’s defence has been excellent in their recent unbeaten run, and Greene and Waddell continued that form, clearing any ball into the home side's area. Despite Town's dominance the first half ended scoreless. The winning goal duly arrived. Ryan Moffat was causing problems on the left wing and on 47 minutes, he drove forward, beat two defenders and crossed from the byline, delivering a pinpoint cross to in-form striker Conor Downey, who had the time and composure to pick his spot and place his shot into the corner giving the keeper no chance - his fourth goal in the last three matches, as Town secured their second home win in as many matches and extended their unbeaten run of games to five.