Championship round-ups, May 3
All the latest from Championship Two:
Armagh City 3 Portstewart 1
Armagh City romped to their 15th successive home league win of the season when they defeated Portstewart 3-1 on Saturday.
And, as a result, they completed victories over every other team in Belfast Telegraph Championship Two. City rested several senior players on Saturday as manager Mattie Rice prepared his side for their Intermediate Cup final clash with Bangor in Castledawson on Bank Holiday Monday evening, kick-off 5.15pm.
Armagh opened their account on 12 minutes when striker Stephen Murray set off on a 30-yard run before slipping the ball cleverly wide of onrushing keeper Joel Madison.
Ten minutes later, the Holm Park outfit made it 2-0 when a poor kick-out from Madison was collected by City midfielder Eamon Kelly who returned the ball with interest from 25 yards out into an empty net.
Armagh wrapped up the match with their third goal on 65 minutes when Philip Donnelly cut in from the left, leaving three defenders in his wake, before flashing home a powerful 15-yard shot.
Portstewart, however, fought hard throughout and were rewarded for their never-say-die attitude in the 85th minutes when Daniel Austin tapped the ball home at the back post after hesitation in the City defence.
Banbridge Town 1 PSNI 2
In their final home league fixture of the season, Banbridge Town faced a mighty task as they endeavoured to send their loyal supporters home happy with a victory in their season finale at Crystal Park.
However they faced a side determined to secure full points as they themselves were involved in a titanic tussle with Queens University for the final promotion spot. Back in December, P.S.N.I. had comfortably defeated Town at their Newforge ground and started the game as hot favourites. After a tentative opening with both side sussing each other out, it was the visitors who assumed early control and Ryan Berry fired wide on 7 minutes following a bit of indecision in Banbridge's back four.
The overlapping Simon Robb shot across goal and past the far post soon after. The home side were not to be undone, and after 10 minutes, Conor Downey sent an inviting free kick into the box and narrowly wide as it cried out for the slightest of touches. Town keeper
Stephen Cairnduff continued his impressive form with a save from Anderson's 12-yard drive and followed this with a 16th minute stop from Kirgan's effort which was the culmination of a fine flowing move from the PSNI.
His counterpart in the visitor's goal Keith Wilson came to his side's rescue three minutes later with a terrific point blank save from a Conor Downey overhead shot after the latter had connected with a long throw in from Michael Ferguson. Downey then set up the hard working Mark Teggart whose fierce shot was held by Wilson.
P.S.N.I. were playing a very effective high line defence which the home team were finding difficult to break down. After 27 minutes, the visitor's prolific goalscorer Peter Steele looked like he would open the scoring when he turned brilliantly in the box but once again Cairnduff thwarted his efforts with a magnificent one-handed save.
The promotion hopefuls were dealt a blow on 34 minutes when Banbridge upset the form book to take a 1 0 lead. A quick attack split the
P.S.N.I. defence and a lovely flick from Stephen Greene found Mark Teggart clear on goal, and the little winger blasted into the corner of the net giving Wilson no chance.
Stunned P.S.N.I. came storming back and Kirgan lifted his 39th minute free kick over the bar while Adamclyk fired wide after racing past two defenders. It could have been much worse for the visitors when Town's Steven O'Neill came very close to increasing his side's lead after 42 minutes, but after losing his marker, he shot inches wide from a narrow angle.
Three minutes into the second half, the same player had a header saved by Wilson on his own goal line after connecting with a Conor Downey free kick. The game turned one minute later with an equaliser from Mark Anderson. P.S.N.I. were awarded a free kick on the edge of Town's box and up stepped Anderson to send a great drive into the far corner to level matters at 1-1.
This was a great boost for the visitors and they began to pressurise Town, playing some very attractive football. Kirk headed wide at the far post from a 61st minute corner and Cairnduff got down to stop a 20-yard drive from Kirgan. Town were still very much in this hard-fought encounter and O'Neill should have done better when he blasted over in front of goal after a mazy run from midfield ace Damian McParland on 68 minutes.
Seven minutes after this at the other end, Steele lobbed wide after getting behind Town's defence. Twelve minutes remained on the clock with the visitors getting very anxious when they struck with a spectacular goal worthy of winning any game.
They were awarded a free kick 35 yards from goal and Ryan Berry fired an fiercely struck drive high into the top corner despite the valiant efforts of keeper Cairnduff, who got his hand to the ball, but such was the power in it he couldn't turn it round the post.
It was ecstasy for P.S.N.I. and although Banbridge still carried the fight to the end it was the police who held out for a hard fought but deserved victory. Promotion had been secured and everyone at Banbridge Town Football Club congratulates them on their achievement.
On Tuesday last (April 29) Town made the journey to Holm Park to face league champions Armagh City but came out on the wrong side of a 4-0 scoreline. They were decisively beaten by the worthy champions and again many congratulations are due to an excellent Armagh City side who will severely test all the teams in Championship One next season.
Next Saturday (May 10) is the final game of the season with Banbridge Town travelling to Lurgan Celtic (Kick-Off 3pm). The supporters club will be running their usual bus and names as always should be given to Terry Sweeney (Tel: 07970275154).
Tobermore United 0 Newington YC 0
Tobermore entertained Newington for the first time in the league and it won’t be a game that will be remembered for very long.
A typical end-of-season game between two sides with nothing to play for predictably ended goalless.
That said, both keepers deserve credit for keeping clean sheets. Neither had very much to do during the game but on the 60 minute, Newington's Dean Smyth made a super stop from Dean Stewart to prevent the home side going ahead, and 10 minutes later at the other end, Paul Wells somehow got a hand to a goal-bound glancing header to push it round a post that even had the opposing forwards congratulating him.
A few minutes later Wells was in action again, this time making a brave stop at the feet of Kevin McGovern. With one game left, both sides looked happy with a point apiece.
Belfast Telegraph Digital