Belfast Telegraph

Costly loss for Armagh

BOTH sides had all to play for in this top-of-the-table clash.

Armagh city 0 ballyclare com 1

BOTH sides had all to play for in this top-of-the-table clash.

League leaders City began the game without ace midfielder Derek McGrath, who was unavailable because of work commitments.

Comrades were also hampered when they lost Stuart McClean through injury after just 17 minutes.

There was a tense opening to the match, with both teams wary of handing anything to the opposition.

The first scoring chance came after 25 minutes when City's Kieran Feehan and Michael Crowe just failed to convert a cross from the left by Chris Mackle.

Seven minutes later City again cut Ballyclare apart, but keeper Alan Huxley made a superb blocking save to deny David Martin.

On the stroke of half-time Armagh had another chance, but Kevin Bates blasted over when well placed.

On 50 minutes City had another good chance but this time it was Alan Murphy who blasted high and wide from six yards out.

But Ballyclare hit back immediately.

City keeper Niall Currie had to be alert and not a little brave to save at the feet of Timmy Adamson.

On 56 minutes Bates fired in a powerful 15 yard shot which beat Huxley, but the ball cannoned off an upright before being cleared.

Ballyclare was always well in the match with Dean Doherty and Eddie Hill a constant threat.

On 75 minutes Doherty was clear on goal, but he hit the ball wide with only the keeper to beat.

With four minutes remaining, the Comrades took the spoils when Hill tapped home from close range, after a fine initial save from Currie.

ARMAGH CITY: Currie, Carlisle, McMullan, Cowan, Murphy, Crowe, Martin, S McGeown, Bates, Feehan, Mackle. Subs M O'Neill, B O'Neill, M McGeown.

BALLYCLARE COM: Huxley, Caldwell, Murray, Forsythe, Emerson, Galbraith, Hill, McClean, Doherty, Adamson, Dallas. Subs McKnight, McDowell, Marks.

Referee: David Best (Carnmoney)

H&W Welders 2 Donegal Celtic 1

TUCKED in at the top of the division's comfort zone, Welders and Donegal Celtic began the last stages of their season with an evenly balanced first half, although the home side held a single-goal lead at the interval.

Donegal Celtic had the first chance after eight minutes when Jason Allen's defensive header fell to Noel Corrigan, who sent John Annesley away. He elected to shoot from 20 yards when he should have moved on in.

Mal Harbinson should have been beaten when Allen powered a header from Ian McGrath's corner well over, but he was powerless to stop the goal that was coming.

It followed a brilliantly struck free kick in the 21st minute. Michael Surgeon, from fully 25 yards, powered a right-foot strike past Harbinson, who did well to even get a hand to it.

Best of the rest of the action saw Chris Towell's shot swing just wide of the Celtic goal and, with Ryan Davidson keeping a close eye on the burly Jim McMenamin, the only real danger came on the whistle from a well placed Paul McVeigh shot that bounced clear.

Celtic re-started strongly forcing errors in the home defence.

Almost immediately McGrath upended McVeigh and his free kick scraped past Henry's far upright.

Kitson's strong run down the right ended with a curling centre, which was scissor-kicked clear by Michael McClean with both McGrath and Johnny Clapham poised to score.

Celtic's forward charge eventually told just after the hour when McVeigh headed in Andy Bonner's centre leaving all to play for, but with seven minutes left the Yard men won the match.

Barry Reid's long throw-in, back-headed on by Stephen Johnston, was nodded in by the evergreen Tom Clelland.

H&W Welders: Henry, Allen, Davidson, Major, Reid, Clelland, Smith, Kitson, Surgeon, Toole, McGrath. Subs: McNamara, Johnston, Clapham.

DONEGAL CELTIC: S Harbinson, Bonner, McCrory, McClean, Donnelly, Allsop, Annesley, Cardwell, Corrigan, McMenamin, McVeigh. Subs: M Harbinson, McCrystal, Vernon.

Referee: Peter Rowntree (Comber).

Ballymoney 0 Bangor 0

BALLYMONEY should have taken the lead inside the first five minutes when Burnside beat two men inside the box but, after doing the hard work, he shot straight at the keeper.

The visitors came close with two long-range efforts from B Holland and Morrow. Both shots went just over the bar.

A fine passing move almost brought Ballymoney the opener but Kearney's half-volley went just over the bar.

The best chance of the half fell to Drummond who was put through on goal, but the keeper came out on top with a fine save at the striker's feet.

The second half was a scrappy affair with no real chances coming until the 60th minute when Brown denied Drummond after a good run and cross by Calderwood.

Bangor's first chance of the half fell to Morrow but his volley was well over after a fine ball from Holland had set him up.

All three points nearly went back to Bangor when they had two great chances in the last five minutes. The first of these fell to Massey who saw his goal-bound effort cleared off the line by Carson. Then MacPherson blazed over with the goal at his mercy.

BALLYMONEY UTD: Fay, L Kearney, Carson, Calderwood, G Kearney, Tully, Patrick, Tosh, Drummond, Burnside, Hennighan. Subs: Millen, Mawhinney, Paul.

BANGOR: Brown, J Holland, McDonald, Massey, Strain, Calderwood, MacPherson, B Holland, Williams, Morrow, Maguire. Subs: Trueman, Adair, Duff.

Referee: Colin Burns (Newtownabbey).

Brantwood 2 Moyola Park 1

BRANTWOOD picked up three valuable points to go above Lurgan Celtic at the bottom of the table.

But if Moyola had taken their chances they could have won easily.

The visitors, still seeking their first win under new boss Liam Beckett, struck the bar and hit the post, and also saw Liam Hartley in the Brants goal make some excellent saves.

Big Peter Hinds broke the deadlock on 19 minutes when he superbly finished off with his head from Paul McCartan.

Six minutes later Joe McAlea sent McCartan through but Simon Ferguson had no problem stopping his effort.

McAlea increased the north Belfast team's slender lead with 66 minutes gone against the run of play, when he gave the Moyola custodian no chance.

Liam O'Donald hit the post with the keeper beaten after 68 minutes but three minutes after this Mark Craig pulled one back with an excellent strike.

Brian Martin hit the bar with the keeper beaten as the Castledawson side encamped in the Brantwood half, but despite continuous pressure they failed to draw level.

Carrick Rangers 1 Ballinamallard 1

CARRICK Rangers battled back for hard earned point thanks to Jimmy McIlhagga's second-half equaliser in this mid-table encounter.

The visitors started like a team keen to avoid being sucked into a late relegation battle and almost opened the scoring within a minute. Conor McGuigan swept the ball over from the left flack for Ryan Campbell to beat Mark Morgan with a sweet volley which whizzed inches wide of the upright.

Rangers were restricted to several half chances on the counter attack, the best falling to Michael Moore on the left of the Ballinamallard area, but his rising shot from a Darren McKay cut-back was stopped by keeper Niall Tinney.

The visitors made the breakthrough just three minutes after the re-start. Mark McConkey drilled over a free kick from the left and Campbell out-jumped everyone at the far post to make it 1-0 with a firm header.

It took a superb reflex save by Tinney on his own goal-line to prevent Stuart Hilditch equalising with a close range header in the 55th minute.

That proved only a temporary reprieve as Rangers got the goal their pressure deserved when McKay found McIlhagga on the overlap and the hard working midfielder slipped the ball past the advancing Tinney.

CARRICK RANGERS: Morgan, Handford, Hilditch, Nixon, McIlhagga, Gilmore, McCracken, Taggart, Moore, D McKay, McKenna. Subs: M McKay, Maguire, Ferguson.

BALLINAMALLARD UTD: Tinney, Chambers, Kilpatrick, Liggett, Cathcart, J McKenna, McConkey, McAuley, Campbell, Bownes, McGuigan. Subs: Smith, Coulter, Crilly.

Referee: Peter Thompson (Bangor).

Lurgan Celtic 0 Loughgall 2

LOUGHGALL continued their march towards the Premiership when they scored two second half goals to beat local rivals Lurgan Celtic.

There were few chances in the first half but anything that was created fell to the visitors.

An Emerson header looked goal-bound only to be flicked away by Damien O'Kane for a corner after 15 minutes.

On the half hour mark left back Chris Guiney broke the offside trap but with the Celtic defence chasing back his cross was easily cut out by goalkeeper Johnny Gilbert.

A few minutes later Gilbert was again called into action, this time he saved easily from a Percy shot.

The visitors started the second half the brightest and put the home side under a lot of pressure.

Keith Percy looked to have put Loughgall into the lead when he rose highest to get in a header but a great finger tip save by Gilbert denied him.

However, 10 minutes later the Villagers took the lead when an Alan Emerson free kick on the right out-foxed everyone as they waited for the cross, and with the keeper off his line he put the ball into the net.

Celtic battled hard to try and get back into the game with half chances falling to both Gary and Stephen Magennis, but to no avail.

Loughgall made sure of the points in the final minutes when John Guy slotted home following good work down the left-hand side.

Banbridge Town 4 Chimney Corner 2

Coagh 2 Wakehurst 3

COAGH blew their chance to close the gap on league leaders Dundela after they threw away a first half two-goal advantage.

This was Coagh's third defeat in a row, and they will now have to win all their remaining league games to get promotion.

Wakehurst had a good chance on 10 minutes but Paul broke through with McCombe making the save.

Coagh finally got the breakthrough on 26 minutes.

Mark McMenemy found Loughran but Wilson in the Wakehurst goal made a fine save at his feet, only for Gillespie to scored from the rebound.

Wakehurst came back strong, forcing McCombe to make two fine saves.

On 40 minutes Crawford pulled Gillespie down in the box and Tumilty converted the resulting penalty to put Coagh two up.

Crawford was unlucky moments later when he had to be carried off with an injury.

Near the end of the half a Stephenson shot rattled the crossbar but Coagh held on to their 2-0 lead.

The game went to boiling point when McCombe failed to hold a Gregg shot with Paul scoring from the rebound.

And the same player converted from the spot after Leecock pulled him down.

On 75 minutes a mix-up in the Coagh defence allowed Paul to put his side 3-2 up.

As tension grew both Loughran and Jordan were sent off.

BANBRIDGE Town were determined to turn the corner in an effort to give their home support something to cheer in a dismal season for them.

Waddle sent Mercer racing through for the latter to force an early corner.

After sustained pressure Mercer gave Town the lead in the eighth minute with a pile-driver from 18 yards, which gave French no chance.

Sneddon, relishing his new midfield role, was very effective.

Wilton thwarted Tennant with a fine save in a rare Chimney Corner attack.

Gorman and Beck combined to send Mercer through, but French saved well.

The visitors were battling their way back into the game with Tenant and Chris Nicholl proving dangerous.

Rejuvenated Gorman made it 2-0 in the 27th minute with a neat header from a green left wing cross.

Gorman again sent Mercer clear with a deft flick but the latter shot straight at the visiting keeper.

Mercer should have put Town further ahead early in the second-half when sent clean through by the ever dangerous Gorman, but he blasted inches wide.

He almost made amends seconds later with a great ball to Evans who forced a good save from French.

It finally came good for Mercer when he beat French with a great 25-yard lob to make it 3-0 after 57 minutes.

McParland ghosted past three Corner defenders and centred, but both Gorman and Mercer missed in front of goal.

McKeague pulled a goal back for the visitors in the 65th minute when he beat Wilton after a mistake in the home defence.

Banbridge finally put the game beyond the visitors in the 79th minute when Beck finished to the corner of the net after good work from the impressive Mercer.

Morrow sent McGlaughlin racing on goal for Corner in the 85th minute but Wilton saved at his feet.

Morrow made it 4-2 when he lobbed Wilton from 18 yards.

BANBRIDGE TOWN: Wilton, Waddell, Greene, Loughran, Scappaticci, Evans, Sneddon, McParland, Mercer, Gorman, Beck. Subs: Rees, McCarroll, McCourt.

CHIMNEY CORNER: French, Gaston, Wilkinson, McCullough, Teggart, McKeague, McMullan, Nicholl, Tennant, Morrow, McClintock. Subs: Andrews, McGlaughin.

Referee: David Appleyard (Crumlin).

Tobermore Utd 2 Crewe Utd 1

AGAINST the run of play in the first half Danny Chapman scored for the visitors but, despite numerous chances, Tobermore failed to hit the target.

Tobermore began the second half in a more determined mood and very quickly scored their first goal, when Neilly pounced on a mistake by the keeper to put the scores level.

After 10 minutes in the second half Sammy Shiels was introduced and with his first touch laid on the winner for McCreadie at the back post.

It was all one-way traffic for Tobermore with Crewe keeper Smith denying Lamont, McLaughlin, Crockett and McCreadie with some fine saves.

Late on the keeper denied Crockett by saving his penalty and the game finished with Tobermore on target for a top two finish.

Dergview 1 Queen's 1

THIS low-key conquest produced a rip roaring final few minutes and ended in controversy when referee Clive Mitchell denied the home side what appeared a genuine penalty.

Dergview dominated the first half and were good value for a 1-0 interval lead.

Ten minutes into the second half the visitors levelled.

The home defence went to sleep and midfielder Michael McCreadie thumped a left foot volley past Allison's left hand from 15 yards.

Both sides failed to trouble the respective goalkeepers until the closing minute.

Glentoran II 1 Linfield Swifts 2

LINFIELD Swifts kept their top-of-the-table position after this victory and put fourth place Glentoran II out of the title reckoning.

Swifts went ahead after just 90 seconds when Glens keeper Ian Mannus seemed to be pushed, but the referee thought otherwise and Andy Hunter netted from Ciaran Gargan's free-kick.

Gary Dunlop made it 2-0 in six minutes when slack marking in the home side's defence saw him easily finish off a right-wing cross by Aaron McKee.

Five minutes from the end the Glens got a deserved consolation through Kris Pyke.


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