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Welders cap remarkable week with six-goal haul at Distillery

Lisburn Distillery 0 Harland & Wolff Welders 6

By Keith Bailie

Harland & Wolff Welders enjoyed a fantastic few days last week, hitting the jackpot on three fronts.

On Wednesday, the Welders booked their place in the final of the Intermediate Cup by beating Bangor 2-0 at Seaview, thanks to late goals from David Rainey and Chris Middleton. Then, on Friday at the Park Avenue, striker Michael McLellan crowned a great season by lifting the Steel & Sons Cup personality of the tournament award at the County Antrim FA's Annual Dinner. Gary Smyth's men completed a great week the following day, by beating Lisburn Distillery 6-0 at New Grosvenor.

Manager Smyth said: "It's been a fantastic few days for the club. I was particularly pleased for Michael, who is now on 42 goals for the season. His goal tally speaks for itself.

"But in all honesty, I wasn't expecting such a good week after losing 2-0 to Armagh last Saturday.

"It was our worst performance of the season and it means it's now unlikely we will win the league. People said it was just a bad day at the office, but how can every single player have a bad day at the office?

"Armagh City thoroughly deserved it. They pressed us and used the ball well. They did exactly what we like to do to other teams.

"Thankfully, for the semi-final with Bangor, we regrouped and put in a good shift at Seaview."

Wednesday night's win over Bangor set up an Intermediate Cup final with Carrick Rangers. Although it's not been confirmed yet, the final is expected to be played on Friday, May 1 at Seaview. Not only is the showdown a repeat of the 2011 Intermediate Cup final, but it is also a re-run of this season's Steel & Sons Cup final. On both occasions, Carrick ran out winners.

Smyth said: "We showed a lot of character on Wednesday night. It was nip and tuck for much of the game, but I think we were starting to get the better of them when Jordan Forsythe was sent off. Forsythe is a superb player, so that gave us a little bit of a boost, and I think we ran out deserved winners in the end.

"It's fantastic for the club to reach another final. We're well-placed in the league, we've reached two cup finals, and we very unlucky in the quarter-finals of the Irish Cup. However, I feel we need to win a trophy to call it a big success.

"Obviously Christmas morning was a massive disappointment. We froze and Carrick put in their best performance of the season. I think we've learnt a lot from the Steel & Sons final and I'm sure we can put on a better show."

The Welders moved into fourth place in the Championship with a 6-0 win over Distillery at New Grosvenor. David Rainey scored a brace with Mark Magennis, Michael McLellan and Ryan Deans also finding the net along with the unfortunate Chris Morrison, who scored an own goal.

Reflecting on the match, Smyth said: "I was concerned we might be a little jaded after Wednesday's cup semi-final. Players at this level aren't used to playing two games a week, so the last few weeks has been a big ask for us.

"Fortunately for us, Distillery were in the same boat as us, because they also had a semi-final on Wednesday night. I think the difference was we were buzzing because we won, whereas they had the disappointment of losing in extra time. We scored two early goals and I think that hurt the Whites.

"But after such a big game on Wednesday night, I couldn't ask for much more."

The Welders will host Ards on Tuesday night (6.30pm), with both clubs still in with a chance of winning the title. 

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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