NIFL Championship round-up, March 5
All the latest from Championship One and Two:
Ards 2 Larne 2
It was honours even at the Bangor Fuels Arena, as Ards and Larne fought out an entertaining game. Larne where trailing Ards by nine points and needed the win to close the gap, and they went at it with all guns blazing. Ards settled and took control though, and went in front when Gary Brown beat his marker and fired into the bottom corner from 15 yards. The lead was doubled from the penalty spot when Hall was tripped in the area and the referee had no hesitation. Keke headed Larne back into the match from a corner kick before the break as Ards went in with the slenderest of leads. In the second half, Brown tipped over a Keke effort as the tackles flew in. Ards created chance after chance to no avail and had an appeal for a penalty turned down when Baker was upended in the box. With time running out, Nixon cleared off the line, and then in the 85th minute, Maguire broke at speed, following an Ards corner, and his perfect pass to Keke allowed the forward to shoot home for the equaliser.
Armagh City 1 H&W Welders 2
The home side started brightly and had a couple of early chances from set pieces, without challenging Michael Dougherty in the Welders goal. The visitors started to come into the game, and grabbed the lead on the half-hour mark. After good work on the left by Scott Davidson, he delivered the perfect cross for Karl Devine to head past Sean Morgan in the City goal. City almost grabbed an equaliser before the break, when PJ Lavery again showed his liveliness but could only push the ball wide of the goal. The Welders had a glorious chance to double their lead within minutes of the second half kicking-off, but Paul Dickson somehow missed the target from 12 yards after good build-up play on the left. Dickson would rue that miss on 57 minutes, as Armagh grabbed an equaliser. Substitute Tamer Atrach did well on the left wing before laying the ball off to Ryan McGerrigan, whose superb cross was thundered home by Stefan Lavery from close range. The Welders pressed and got their winner in the 89th minute, when the ball fell to substitute Ethan Boylan, who didn’t waste any time in firing off a shot that squeezed into the bottom corner for a dramatic winner.
Ballyclare Comrades 2 Annagh United 2
The visitors hit the front in the 31st minute, when Chris McElroy converted a penalty, awarded after JB Dobbin was adjudged to have fouled Steven Park in the box. Four minutes later Comrades were back on level terms, when Jason Johnston headed in from seven yards from a Gary Brown corner. The game looked to be swinging towards the home side on 52 minutes, when Annagh keeper Ciaran Fox was sent off when the referee adjudged he was just outside the box when handling the ball to block a Gary Brown effort. Fox was replaced by experienced keeper Marc Robinson. The home side failed to take advantage of the one-man advantage and were stunned in the 88th minute, when Annagh were awarded another penalty and Chris McElroy again stepped up to score from the spot. A minute later, the home side rescued a point when Chris Trussell got on the end of a corner to power in a header from five yards. Comrades left-back Sandy McDermott received a straight red card for a challenge seconds before the final whistle.
Institute 3 Lisburn Distillery 0
The home side were inches away from taking the lead on 10 minutes, after Jamie McIntyre’s right wing centre found McGinty, but his close range header was superbly saved at point-blank range by Distillery’s McErlean. The deadlock was finally broken on 44 minutes, when McIntyre’s super right wing cross found McGinty at the back post, and his perfectly guided header back across McErlean, found the net. Institute doubled their lead on 48 minutes. Again, McErlean did superbly well to keep out Brown and McIntyre’s efforts, before making another point-blank range stop to deny McGinty, but last month’s Championship Player of the Month made no mistake with his follow up, firing it into the net. On 77 minutes, Brown made no mistake, latching onto to Roddy’s wonderful pass before clipping the ball over an out-rushing McErlean to seal the win.
Coagh United 2 Dollingstown 1
Coagh United earned themselves three vital points in a relegation battle which is destained to go the whole way to the final day. Marty Hughes was sent off early in the game, before Coagh took the lead on the half hour, when defender Karl Stark shot from fully 30 yards and it flew past the keeper low into the bottom corner. Dollingstown got the perfect start to the second half, when once again, their talisman Richard Thompson pulled them level with a fantastic individual goal, which saw him leave at least three defenders in his wake before firing high into the net. On 55 minutes, Gillespie beat Moffett down the touchline, but McPartland in DFC goals pulled off a great save. Coagh secured all three points in the 80th minute, when John Courtney’s shot from distance deflected over the keeper and into the goal.
Dundela 3 Glebe Rangers 2
Dundela got off to a flying start as Matty Burrows fired under the keeper to give Dundela the lead inside a minute of the whistle. Dundela doubled their advantage, when TJ Murray slammed home from the six-yard line, after Mark McClelland’s flick-on caused problems after Collins’ long throw. The first half ended in stunning fashion, when TJ Murray was allowed time to turn 25 yards out before unleashing a curling effort that flew into the top right-hand corner of the Glebe goal. Glebe pulled one back early in the second half, when their striker poked home from four yards after a set-piece. The Duns went into panic mode after another set-piece allowed a header to loop over Sergeant and into the net. The momentum was with the Glebe attack, but despite this swing of play, the Duns were still dangerous on the counter-attack, with Burrows and Sofley having plenty of room down the flanks. Dundela rode the Glebe storm and held out for the three points.
Tobermore United 1 PSNI 1
With league leaders Limavady United having no game last Saturday, second-placed PSNI were keen to add three more points to their tally. Tobermore once again showed that they deservedly hold third spot with a very sound all-round display, especially taking into consideration their recent poor record against the police. The visitors controlled most of an entertaining first half at a bitterly cold Fortwilliam Park but despite their superior possession, home keeper McGraw was rarely troubled with Cairns and Keane superb in front of him. The second half was a much more even affair with Tobermore’s midfield and forward line giving the visitors plenty to think about but a mistake in the home defence, with about 15 minutes to go, gave the ball away, and when it fell to Dolan, the big number nine made no mistake from close range. Lamont replaced the hard-working Keane with 10 minutes to go, and the nippy forward took only five minutes to make his mark, when he was first to the ball inside the box, giving keeper Williamson no chance with a fine finish to level proceedings. Both sides had chances to take all three points, but there were no more goals and the spoils were shared.
Belfast Telegraph Digital