NIFL Championship round-up, November 7
All the latest from Championship One and Two:
Bangor 1 Institute 0
On nine minutes, Andy Morrow whipped in a low shot from wide on the right, but 'Stute keeper Michael Lynch reacted lightning-fast to get a hand to the ball on his line. Play was end-to-end, but chances were rare. There was a warning for the visitors on 24 minutes, when home midfielder Mark Cooling's 25-yard dipping free kick from the right brought a good save from the alert Lynch. Three minutes later at the other end, a dangerous low ball from the right by 'Stute striker Robbie Hume was well taken by the alert home keeper Chris Johns on his six-yard line. Bangor were out of luck on 31 minutes, when a Cooling blaster from the edge of the area rebounded off the inside the visitors' left post. 'Stute were thwarted on 37 minutes, as striker Garbhan Friel cut in from the left to slam the ball across the area, but there was no-one to get a toe to the ball. On 40 minutes, the visitors were thwarted again following an in-swinging corner on the left from Aaron Harkin which was headed past the post from seven yards by centre-half Mark Scoltock. On 51 minutes, home winger Andy Long's head-high cross from the right was just missed by Gibson on the six-yard line. Eight minutes later, Long's low shot from eight yards was blocked by the keeper. Bangor grabbed the winner on 69 minutes, from a superbly struck 25-yard free kick by Mark Cooling, which gave the keeper no chance, as the ball flew into the top left corner of the net. The home side might have doubled their lead on 79 minutes, but sub Jordan Lucas blasted over the bar from 12 yards.
Armagh City 6 Lurgan Celtic 0
City made the breakthrough on the half hour mark when Stefan Lavery got in front of the Celtic defence to power a header into the back of the Celtic net from a superb Ryan McGerrigan cross. Minutes later, Philip Donnelly doubled the lead when he fired home an unstoppable drive from just outside the box. The home side were now dominant, and just before the interval, City added a further goal when Ultan Lennon headed home from a flick-on from Lavery following yet another City corner. The opening minutes of the second period saw the visitors attempt to get back into the game and they won a number of free kicks and corners, but they failed to make any real impact on the City back line. Then, 10 minutes in, City added a fourth goal, when Lavery once again rose above the visitors' defence to head home a Shea McGerrigan corner for his second goal of the game. Celtic had a chance to reduce the arrears when the ball broke to Fitzpatrick, but he failed to find the target when well placed. With a quarter of an hour remaining, Lavery latched onto a ball to set up Shea McGerrigan and the winger made no mistake, adding a fifth. Five minutes later, Liam Cullen added a sixth when he tapped home a Dara Noonan goal-bound header. The game appeared to be petering out when, in the final minute, Celtic were awarded a penalty for a foul in the area, but John Connolly brilliantly saved Fitzpatrick’s spot kick to maintain his clean sheet.
Annagh United 1 Knockbreda 2
It was the proverbial game of two halves at Tandragee Road as Annagh failed to turn a 1-0 lead and a dominant first half display into a coveted three points. Jordan Campbell headed a Scot Rae free just over after six minutes, while Daniel Burns saw Acheson clear his effort off the line at the other end. Scott McCordick struck his free wide of McErlean's upright on 16 minutes, but Annagh's persistence paid off on 18 minutes, when McCann's attempted lob hit the crossbar and Jay Gardiner headed in the rebound. It was all ‘Breda in the last half hour and Annagh had keeper Marc Robinson to thank for a string of fine saves from Hughes, Burns and Johnston. On 66 minutes, the somewhat inevitable equaliser came when David Johnston went unmarked and headed in from a corner, just five minutes later his namesake Matty saw Robinson save well again. Breda took the lead on 70 minutes, when Hughes eventually got the better of Robinson, as he converted his spot kick following a foul by Pentland. In the last few minutes, substitute Jamie Smith created a notable chance for Annagh when he found space in the box, but Nixon cleared his strike off the line while Robinson pushed Wilson's effort over the bar at the other end.
Larne 1 Ards 6
Larne reserved their worst performance of the season for a game in which second place in Championship One was up for grabs, when they crashed to a 6-1 home defeat against Ards. It was the worst home defeat the Inver Reds have suffered in David McAlinden's almost two years in charge. It equals the 6-1 defeat at Institute in January 2014 as the worst result of McAlinden's tenure. Ards got the scoring underway in the 10th minute, when the home side failed to deal with a cross. The ball fell to Gary Dorrian, who was left with a simple tap-in. In the 44th minute, Ards doubled their advantage. Dorrian turned provider, crossing for Templeton to head home. Larne built a bit of momentum early in the second half and halved the deficit in the 56th minute. Ards keeper Ryan Brown superbly saved Gerald Gillan's 20-yard free kick, but Paul Maguire was able to force the rebound in from close range. The opportunity of a comeback was binned three minutes later, when O'Neill found Baker with time and space to put Ards 3-1 up and kill the game. The home side failed to compete for the remainder of the game, and in the 67th minute, Denver Gage was able to head home a very poorly-defended Eamon McAllister corner. Stephen O'Neill headed the fifth goal in the 86th minute and Ben Browne completed the scoring three minutes into the stoppage time with a classy long range finish.
Queens University 0 Tobermore 2
This was a very entertaining game with a lot of attractive football from both teams. Queen’s, with wide-men Michael Allison and Matt Hughes prominent, just edged a fairly even first half. Patrick Stuart, Daniel Hanna and Mark Prenter all went close, but couldn’t find the net. With 44 minutes played, Tobermore won a corner on the right, and Trevor Parkhill’s cross found Conor Kearns, whose header produced a fine tip-over save from Declan Brown. The game was end-to-end with the visitors Dean Brown causing problems with his pace on the right and it was he whose shot was parried by keeper Brown into the path of Gary Keane, who inexplicably volleyed against the crossbar from five yards. With 65 minutes on the clock, the breakthrough came for the visitors. Queen’s central defenders hesitated and failed to deal with a long ball up the middle of the pitch. Parkhill nipped in and stroked the ball past the stranded Brown and into the corner of the goal. A few minutes later, Parkhill’s corner from the left found the unmarked Brown, who headed powerfully into the roof of the net from five yards. Queen’s never gave up and got back into the game, and came close when Hanna’s header cleared keeper Matthew McGraw, but went narrowly over the bar.
Moyola Park 0 Limavady United 4
In the 12th minute, the visitors had a penalty appeal turned down when the referee waved play on following a challenge on Friel. Midway through the first half, the impressive Friel was through on goal only to see Kelly make a great tackle to clear the danger. With the visitors continuing to pressure the home defence, Friel saw his shot blocked by Kelly and then a cross cleared by Gray. Moyola had to make a change in the 40th minute, with Bradley replacing the impressive McIlhatton. With three minutes left to half time, a run from Gregg found Magill in the box and he saw his effort blocked. With a minute left a foul on full-back McIvor saw the referee point to the penalty spot and Friel made no mistake to give Limavady the lead going in at the break. In the 63rd minute, a long ball from Farniok found Gray and he found McAuley, who put Gregg through on goal and he saw his effort saved by Kells. This proved the turning point in the game, as the visitors went straight up the pitch and extended their lead when C Harkin received the ball and fired a great finish past Farniok. With 20 minutes left, Friel made the game safe when he found himself through on goal, and he chipped the ball over Farniok. The final goal of the game came two minutes later, with sub McMullan capitalising on a mistake in the home defence and he placed the ball past Farniok.
Dollingstown 2 Glebe Rangers 2
Dollingstown got their first shot on target in the 17th minute, when a superb free-flowing move involving Walker, Gibson and Thompson ended with Thompson failing to convert. Just two minutes later, they were punished when a sloppy back pass from Walker was intercepted by Richard Dunlop, who calmly slotted the ball into the empty net. Glebe almost doubled their lead a few minutes later, when a great cross from Daniel Brown was missed by his fellow strikers. On 22 minutes, Gibson had a wonderful chance to equalise when through one-on-one with the keeper, but placed his shot wide of the far post. Indeed, it wasn't until just before half time when striker Thompson showed how it should be done, when he superbly volleyed into the top corner from just inside the area. Dollingstown were punished once again, when winger Jonathan Spence delivered the perfect cross for Dunlop to score his second of the afternoon. Manager Duke then replaced Walker with Hughes and changed the shape of the team in an effort to revitalise his team, and on 75 minutes it was that man Thompson again who pulled DFC level with another superb strike. Indeed DFC nearly snatched a win on 92 minutes, when Gibson header from a corner looked goal-bound until the away keeper tipped it over the bar.
PSNI 3 Banbridge Town 3
From the start, the police were in control and it came as no surprise when, on 13 minutes, a Mark Anderson cross from the right wing was met at the far post by the head of Mark McCullagh. On 23 minutes, a long cross into the police six-yard box by Stuart Thompson was headed home by Conor Downey and five minutes later, a Banbridge break against the run of play saw Downey collect the ball just inside the police half and he had a free run on goal, and calmly slotted home from 18 yards. The inability of the police to find the net, despite many golden opportunities was further punished, when a Ryan Moffatt was saved by David Harrison in the police goal, but it rebounded, and with Downey preparing to strike for his hat-trick, it was the toe of Moffatt that saw the ball cross the police line. As anticipated, the police came out pushing hard to get back into the game. On 50 minutes, a Mark Anderson free kick from 25 yards came back off the upright with Tuoa Murphy beaten. Shortly afterwards, Jamesy Kirk, the police manager, introduced three substitutes at the same time. His reward was a police goal on 68 minutes, when a powerful shot from Ashton McDermott from some 30 yards, received a deflection and ended up in the back of the Banbridge net. With time running out, the police continued to press for the equaliser and on 90 minutes, Ryan Berry was on-hand to slot home after Murphy had saved well.
Belfast Telegraph Digital