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Belfast Telegraph Championship round-up, December 27

All the latest from Championship One and Two:

Championship One


PSNI 0 Knockbreda 0

This was the third time the teams met this season. So far, all square, one win each.

Clear cut chances were few and far between, but in the first 70 minutes, PSNI had the best opportunities to put a score on the board, while the last 20 minutes were dominated by Knockbreda.

Mark Anderson had the first chance on goal on 21 minutes, when he saw his well-struck shot just fly past the Knockbreda post. Two minutes later, Knockbreda had a chance but it was successfully cleared. From the resulting counter attack, Anderson again had an opportunity which went tantalisingly wide.

Such was the ferocity of this match that Knockbreda went on immediate attack, but their effort was cleared following a goalmouth scramble. In the 28th minute, a Darren Bell effort sailed just wide of the post.

Jordan Dane’s attempt on 33 minutes was parried wide for a corner by Jordan Williamson in the Knockbreda goal.

The second half was really a midfield battle with few chances. However, Knockbreda totally dominated the final 20 minutes. David Harrison was first called into action in the 77th minute, when he had to parry a Matthew Jordan effort and also turn round the post the resultant secondary effort.

A big concern for the PSNI was the injury to Joe McWilliams, who may be out for a number of weeks.

The PSNI remain unbeaten from the beginning of November, and hopefully they will find the back of the net in weeks to come.


Ballyclare Comrades 2 Dergview 2

The early stages saw the home team with the upper hand, testing Dergview keeper Alan Buchanan on a number of occasions.

However, in the latter part of the first half, the visitors grew in confidence and began to dominate the play, although they failed to turn this into clear goal-scoring opportunities.

The start of the second half saw Comrades raise their game and they got their reward in the 51st minute, when Randal Reid dug out a great cross from the by-line to the back post, where Joel Cooper slid in to convert from a tight angle, three yards out.

The home side’s lead didn’t last long, and the game seemed to have turned Dergview’s way three minutes later, when they won a penalty, after Andrew Doyle was adjudged to have handled the ball on the line. The Comrades defender received a red card and Adam Lecky stepped up to convert the penalty.

Despite being down to 10 men, Comrades showed little sign of their numerical disadvantage. In the 69th minute they regained their lead, when a cross-shot from 20 yards out on the right from Johnny McClurg sailed over the stranded keeper and into the top corner of the net.

The visitors now ramped up the pressure, but Comrades coped with it well until their resistance was broken in the 85th minute, when a scramble in the box ended with Aaron Arkinson firing home from seven yards.


Lisburn Distillery 0 Donegal Celtic 0

Despite the game ending scoreless, both sides served up an entertaining match, as Lisburn Distillery took on Donegal Celtic in their second derby match of the season - the Whites having won the corresponding fixture at Suffolk Road 1-0.

Donegal Celtic had the first chance of the game as Denver Taggart broke free at the back post before lashing his shot goal-ward, however it was matched by a good low save by Ryan McBride, who parried the ball out of the danger zone. Taggart then had a second chance a matter of moments later, shooting on target, but this was also well saved by the sprawling McBride.

Distillery's first chance of the game came when good link up play by Stuart Thompson and Stephen Doyle down the right hand flank saw Doyle’s cross cleared by Danny Wallace and then Tommy Kincaid’s side had another chance as a free kick was awarded just outside the penalty box. Up stepped Martin Jones, who fired it goalwards with the effort being spilled by Celtic keeper McErlean - however, no-one was on hand to follow the chance up for the home side.

Bradley Morton came to the home side's rescue as he made a superb block from Kevin Hughes' shot, and then his fellow defensive partner Darren Nixon was on hand to somehow clear the ball off the line after Patrick Kelly’s rasping drive from the edge of the box.

The game started to slow down as Donegal Celtic took the pace off the game in the centre of midfield, passing the ball around slickly on the wet turf. Distillery, however, almost went in at the break a goal in front, as Joe McDonnell’s teasing cross was so nearly met by Sean Southam, but it was a weak effort, resulting in an easy pick-up for McErlean.

Clearly, Whites boss Tommy Kincaid hadn’t been happy with the Whites first half display, and he wasted no time in shaking things up, opting to replace Jimmy McIlhagga and Joe McDonnell with William Bingham and Ryan Corrigan.

However, as the new players settled into the game, the visitors had a superb chance to go ahead when Darren Stuart missed an open net as Wallace crossed along the face of goal, the move forcing Kincaid into making his final change of the day by introducing Artur Kopyt to the party as Stephen Doyle was subbed off.

The changes seemed to be working as the Whites began to gain the upper hand. Bingham made a great run down the flank to cross in a dangerous looking ball only for Wallace to clear, and then the tricky winger Bingham had another chance when his shot was deflected onto the boot of Sean Southam, but he lost out to Caolan McLaughlin .

Distillery were pressing hard and were then nearly let in by McErlean, who miskicked the ball as Jones was racing in, only for Eamon Hughes to beat him to it and nick the ball away from the advancing forward's toes. McErlean then got lucky again, as he was let off the hook, when he punched Bingham’s cross straight into the body of the advancing Jones, the ball just rolling past the post.

The Whites' Keiran O’Connor then had his first free kick of the day - he got the first part right, whipping it over the wall, but in the end, there wasn’t enough pace to beat the visiting keeper as he plucked it out of the sky.

Despite the home side now being in the ascendency, Nicky Maye’s Celtic were still playing some decent stuff in the middle of the park, and it was only a great interception by Morton which denied Joe Todd.

As the game ebbed and flowed, Distillery were so close to going ahead, as Southam was played through, but his volleyed shot was spectacularly saved by the out-rushing McErlean’s feet. Donegal Celtic then had two decent chances of their own, as Darren Nixon and Morton both made superb blocks to deny the visitors.

And as the minutes ticked down, Donegal Celtic had the last chance of the game, as Taggart weaved his way into the box, only to see his shot well saved by McBride.


Championship Two


Banbridge Town 0 Dollingstown      4

Dollingstown were making their first ever league visit to Crystal Park, having only qualified for Championship Two this season. They have recruited well in pre-season and are making a strong impact already.

They will go home elated after a very impressive 4 - 0 trouncing of a disappointing Banbridge Town side, for whom very little went right during the 90 minutes.

Town's cause was not helped when they lost goal-scoring talisman Conor Downey early on after a heavy fall which led to a serious-looking shoulder injury. But while his loss was accidental, the second loss of midfield ace Mark Teggart was self-inflicted, with a red card for a two-footed challenge on the visiting right back.

Dollingstown got off to the best possible start, when Richard Thompson seized on hesitation from Town's Stephen Greene to race past the centre back and shoot past James McConville after four minutes.

The loss of Conor Downey in the 15th minute, when he went down after an accidental tackle from ex-Banbridge team mate Neil King, proved a mighty setback.

Town keeper McConville was called into action four minutes later when he saved brilliantly from a 35-yard Andy King volley. Glen Waddell was inspired in the Banbridge defence, and time and again, he intercepted dangerous Dollingstown moves before setting up another attack.

Town had an excellent chance to equalise on 24 minutes, when Ally Wilson worked his way into the area before setting up Duncan Stoddard unmarked in front of goal but the latter’s drive was somehow blocked and cleared. 

At the other end, James McConville got down to stop a Walker effort after he had run on to a great cross-field pass from Thompson. Although Banbridge were now in the ascendancy, it was the visitors who raced into a 2-0 lead after 33 minutes when another ex-Town player Neil Clydesdale turned a defender, before finding Thompson lurking six yards out, and the prolific goal-scorer didn't need a second chance before blasting home.

Mattie McCartan got his head to a Michael Ferguson cross soon after, but couldn't get any direction with it, and Fletcher held a Mark Teggart shot as Banbridge continued the fight.

However, just prior to the half time whistle, Town's hopes were severely dashed, when Teggart saw red for a two-footed lunge on a visiting defender. With nothing to lose, Town went 'three at the back,' which is always a risky thing to do, and despite a heartening start to the half, they were caught with two splendid goals with ten minutes.

On 50 minutes, Walker finished into the roof of the net with a great shot from the edge of the box, after a fine four-man move, and five minutes later came the goal of the match, when Richard Thompson grabbed his hat-trick with a stunning 22-yard volley, which left McConville motionless in the Banbridge goal. Ten-man Town kept probing, but to no avail, and, in the end, Dollingstown ran out comfortable winners on a day Ryan Watson's men will want to forget, and very quickly!

Ballymoney United 1 Glebe Rangers 1

It was an apprehensive start by both teams in this first local derby of the season, but in the early exchanges, Ballymoney United had a goal disallowed for an infringement from a McKenna corner. After a good move by the home team, Dempsey tested McIlveen in the visitors' goal with a great drive, but the keeper made a good save.

Ballymoney settled and came close on 11 minutes, when McKenna shot wide with the goal at his mercy.

Glebe mounted a promising attack on 19 minutes but Nicholl lost control at a crucial moment to let the home team off the hook. From this moment, Glebe upped the tempo and came close on 25 minutes, when McVicker found Moore in the home goal, perfectly positioned to thwart his effort. 

The game was now a fairly equal affair approaching half time, with both teams having their share of attacks. The home team had a scare on 43 minutes, when Nicholl broke through, but steered his effort wide of the Ballymoney post.

Glebe had a perfect start to the second half, taking the lead on 48 minutes through Kennoway.

The game became a dull midfield affair, with neither team dominating. Jennings came close for Ballymoney on the hour, but his effort was well saved by McIveen in the visitor’s goal.

The action continued to swing from end to end, and Ballymoney were rewarded on 70 minutes, when Jennings looped a header over McIlveen from a McKenna corner.

Ballymoney had a good chance on 83 minutes, when Dickson broke down the right and shot across McIlveen in the visitors' goal, only to see his attempt deflect off the keeper’s foot and back into play. With time running out, Ballymoney were awarded a penalty and Jennings stepped up to blast goal-ward, but his effort was well saved by McIlveen.


Tobermore United 1 Moyola Park 1

Tobermore boss Adrian Whiteside must be wondering how his side didn’t pick up all three points in Saturday’s game against Moyola, having dominated the majority of a typical blood-and-thunder derby.

Tobermore settled quickly, with both Peter Duffin and Ryan Winton causing plenty of concern to the visiting defence. Trevor Parkhill went close with an early effort and ex-Tobermore keeper Marty Farniok did well to stop Ally Young’s shot from close range.

At the other end, Paul Wells dealt superbly with the few shots that the visitors got on target, but it was the home side that were creating the chances. However, a combination of good keeping by Farniok and poor finishing kept the game scoreless at half time.

The second half was along similar lines to the first, with Tobermore creating chance after chance that went begging but that changed on 60 minutes, when Young rose above the visitors' defence to glance home a cross from fellow striker Parkhill.

Moyola rallied for a short while but Tobermore came back at them, looking for a second to seal a deserved victory, but again Farniok was at his best to keep his side in the game.

Then with just three minutes left on the clock, disaster struck when Connor Kearns - who had a super game at centre-half, keeping goal-machine Chris Dowie very quiet - somehow headed past his own keeper when defending a free kick.

It was a real stroke of luck for the visitors, as they really didn’t look like scoring, but in football, you lap up that sort of fortune, and Tobermore will be hoping that some of it comes their way soon.

Belfast Telegraph