Belfast Telegraph

NIFL Championship round-up, January 16

All the latest from Championship One and Two :

Championship One


H&W Welders 1 Lisburn Distillery 0

The Welders notched up another three league points against Lisburn Distillery at Tillysburn Park. The sodden pitch was still showing the scars from last weekend’s Irish Cup game against Glenavon. The opening moments of the game showed very little real chances from either side with the new-look Distillery squad keen to keep things tight. Kevin Hughes created a half-chance after 19 minutes, only to see his final pass go wide. Play was mainly in the middle of the park and the pitch did not permit a passing game. Sammy Devine had a chance, only to see his effort go wide.  With half time approaching, things were dull with nothing to catch the spectator's eye. On the restart, the Welders seemed to adopt more energy and were imposing themselves, forcing the Whites on the defensive. The only goal of the game came after 51 minutes, when Scott Davidson netted. This appeared to rouse the home team and they were by now very much in control of the game with some great bouts of interplay, with Karl Devine catching the eye. Neil Dougan saw his effort go just over the bar, and a great move between Karl Devine and Dougan saw McErlain in the visitors' goal pull off a great stop. Not the best game of football, but three points in the bag, as the Welders strive for the top.

Loughgall 3 Ballyclare Comrades 2

Comrades had the first chance of the game on eight minutes, when strikers Chris Trussell and Curtis Dempster combined for the latter to draw a good save from Loughgall keeper Gareth Buchanan. Then it was Ballyclare keeper Jonah Nicholl’s turn to make a fine save when he parried Jamie Rea’s fizzing shot from 20 yards in the 14th minute. The Villagers broke the deadlock on 21 minutes, when Ricky Copeland headed Rea’s free kick in off the post from close range. The lead lasted less than one minute, as Andrew Simpson did fantastically well to volley home Michael O’Hanlon’s free kick delivery. Loughgall regained their lead in the 28th minute, when Daniel Ryan was released clear and slotted home beyond keeper Nicholl. Loughgall were hit with a blow as they conceded deep into first half additional time. Goalkeeper Buchanan will be disappointed he was unable to keep out Trussell’s free kick that crept in at the near post. For all the excitement of the first period, the second failed to provide many clear-cut opportunities. On 62 minutes, Loughgall had keeper Buchanan to thank after he superbly saved Simpson’s penalty kick, after captain Steven Ferguson handled inside the penalty area. A great attacking move saw Warner Mullen set up strike partner Ryan, who missed a difficult volley with nine minutes remaining. Just as the game seemed to be destined for a draw, Copeland popped up and headed in Rea’s perfect corner delivery in the 86th minute.

Institute 0 Bangor 0

Institute had a half-chance on 15 minutes, but Jamie Dunne’s curling left-footed strike from the right hand side of the box was easily saved by Chris Johns. Again, the home side had a glorious chance on 23 minutes but Gareth Brown’s close-range header, which had Johns beaten, flashed just wide, after Jamie McIntyre’s centre had picked him out. The woodwork came to the visitors' rescue on 37 minutes, when Aaron Harkin’s close-range strike rattled against the crossbar, after the Seasiders failed to clear their lines. Brown had another super opportunity two minutes later, when he skipped away from his marker, but his tame side-footed effort was straight at Johns. Institute, who dominated the first half, had another great chance just before the break, but Jamie McIntyre’s close-range shot hit the post and flashed across the six-yard box. The woodwork was Institute’s friend on 61 minutes, when Stephen Curry went close to scoring against his old club, but his stinging drive from just inside the box came back off the post before Stute cleared. Bangor’s Andrew Long should have done better on 80 minutes, when he broke the offside trap, but the right winger’s early strike was well off-target.


Championship Two


Limavady United 4 Coagh United 1

Limavady broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute, as non-existent defending left Bryan McClelland in acres of space to head in a free kick from six yards out. As early as the first minute in the second half, Owens had vocal appeals for a 46th minute penalty turned away when he went down under a heavy challenge and in the very next minute, Gillespie saw Kelly off his line and smashed the ball into the net with a dipping 25-yard equaliser. The Roesiders were ahead again within a minute. A ball into the visitors' box was not dealt with and no fewer than three Limavady players were in the six-yard box, but inevitably it was Friel who was first to react for a simple tap-in. Friel, with the deftest of touches, put Conor Harkin into the box, and was waiting at the back post to collect his colleague's cross and wallop the ball into the roof of the net from 10 yards out. United were now in complete control, and were bossing the midfield. Lee Harkin was next to join the party, turning and shooting into the net from just outside the box. In the remaining 20 minutes, both sides continued to play open, attacking football, and to their credit, the visitors kept competing, even though their cause was hopeless.

Dollingstown 4 Dundela 0

Dollingstown welcomed Dundela to Planters Park for the first time, and despite all the frost and rain, the pitch was once again in pristine condition. On 15 minutes, Dundela missed a great chance. A superb cross from the right wing was turned wide of the near post by Aidan Neale. On 24 minutes, Dollingstown were awarded a penalty when Ritchie Thompson was sandwiched in an aerial challenge. Neil Lavery stepped up and fired the resultant spot kick high into the top corner. The second half took a while to get going, but exploded into life on 65 minutes, with Lavery firing home from 25 yards out. Indeed, the same player almost got his hat-trick a minute later from a similar angle, but this time his shot hit the side-netting. On 68 minutes, Lavery played in Walker down the left and he crossed to Thompson, who turned the defender superbly before firing home. Manager Gary Duke replaced Lavery and Hand with Donaghy and new signing Josh Norton coming on for his debut following his transfer from Portadown. And on 80 minutes, he set up Walker for goal number four of the afternoon. It could and should have been five in the final minute, when young Norton was through one-on-one with the keeper, who denied him a goal on his debut.

Queens University 3 Moyola Park 2

Moyola struck first when Oran McAuley ran on to a long ball up the middle, and from 25 yards, lobbed the ball over Queen’s keeper Declan Brown, who was on the edge of his box. Queen’s were soon level, when Matt Hughes won a penalty, when brought down near the by-line. Patrick Stuart's well-hit spot kick gave Marc Maybin no chance. It was an open attractive game, and soon Queen’s were ahead, when Hughes' corner was headed in at the far post by defender Matt McManus. After just 25 minutes, it was level again. A shot from outside the box was deflected into the path of Mark Waddle, who had a simple finish from close range. The second half was less entertaining, but Queen’s did most of the attacking and scored the decisive goal in the 64th minute. Matt Hughes' free kick directed to the far post was perfect for Daniel Hanna to head home from a few yards. Minutes later, a similar cross from Hughes again found Hanna, but this time, his effort went over the top. At the other end, in a strange incident, McManus’s attempted clearance of a low cross from the right struck his own post, rebounded to him and he cleared it at the second attempt. Queen’s came close to a fourth goal, when a quick breakaway saw the ball fall perfectly for Connor Mulholland, whose shot was deflected narrowly wide.

Wakehurst 1 Banbridge Town 2

Many thanks to Moyola Park, who did a great job of clearing the Mill Meadow pitch to ensure it passed the 10am inspection and the game could go ahead. In a scoreless first half, both teams had chances - the better falling to the visitors - but somehow, it remained all-square at the interval. Wakehurst started the second half strongly, creating two good opportunities in the first 10 minutes. Then, 15 minutes in, a long ball upfield was headed away by Buchanan, but the quick return ball from midfield evaded Town’s defence and one-on-one with the keeper, Wakehurst’s pacey striker Gregg made no mistake, slotting the ball to Murphy’s left for the opening goal. With 15 minutes left, Town drew level. Great advance play by King, on his debut, and Moffatt found Barr in space on the edge of the area, and his shot on the turn was blocked, but the loose ball was picked up by Gourley, who took the ball to the left byline before floating a great cross across the goal, where Barr was free to head Town level. It was all Banbridge now, and with 10 minutes left, the pressure told, as Gourley picked the ball up on the right wing and cut inside before getting his shot away. His effort took a slight deflection off a Wakehurst defender and flew into the net to put Town ahead. Town closed out the game for the final 10 minutes, keeping the ball well with some neat passing and movement which secured a valuable three away points.

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