Belfast Telegraph

We're not promotion favourites: PSNI boss Gavin Arthur

By Keith Bailie

While the battle for the title in the Belfast Telegraph Championship One has been the major talking point in recent weeks, the race for promotion in Championship Two is promising to go to the wire.

Current league leaders PSNI extended their lead on Saturday by beating Chimney Corner 3-0 thanks to a hat-trick from Mark Anderson. Gavin Arthur's men are now five points clear of their South Belfast rivals Queen's University, while Armagh City, Newington YC, Annagh United and Banbridge Town are all still in the hunt for one of the two promotion slots.

PSNI manager Gavin Arthur isn't getting carried away just, he actually believes Armagh City and Newington are the favourites for promotion.

“Although we are leading the league, I actually think Armagh City and the Newington are favourites for the two promotion slots.

“Newington have the Amateur League on a number of occasions in recent years, so they're more than used to title run-ins. Even though they're in a different division now, they still know how to win a league, whereas it is a new experience for most of our guys.

“Similarly, Armagh City were very unlucky not to gain promotion last season. They were leading the division for a long time and then just slipped back near the end of the season. They will have learnt a lot from the experience and they will not want to have that feeling again.

“We're doing well at the moment, but I know that things can change very quickly in football. We've a couple of top players in Peter Steele and Ryan Berry, while the rest of the lads are working hard.

“At the moment, we're all enjoying our football and we're looking forward to the run-in. In Championship Two, you always get five or six teams that break away from the pack and it's nice to be apart of that this year.”

The PSNI went within a whisker of qualifying for the last 16 of the Irish Cup, but ultimately lost their mid-week replay to Tommy Kincaid's Lisburn Distillery 2-0.

Reflecting on the game, Arthur was unhappy with the performance of Augher referee Wesley Campbell.

"In my opinion, the referee has ruined the two games with two huge decisions and if we get either one of them, we win the tie."

Some Championship Two sides enjoyed better luck in the Irish Cup, with three clubs making it through to the sixth round.

In-form Armagh City beat Premiership side Ards 3-1 in a replay, with star man Stephen Murray hitting a brace. The Eagles can now look forward to a money-spinning tie against cup holders Glentoran in the next round.

Queen's University travel to Ballyskeagh to face PSNI's conqueror’s Lisburn Distillery, while Ballymoney United can look forward to a trip to Seaview to play Crusaders.

With three clubs still left in the Irish Cup, and six sides still in with a shout of claiming promotion, it's proving to be an excellent year for the Belfast Telegraph Championship Two. 

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