NIFL Championship

There were just three matches played in the Bluefin Sport Championship on Saturday in the penultimate set of fixtures before the league splits in two after Saturday’s fixtures. There was no shortage of goals to look back on though as a total of ten flew in around the grounds. We start this week’s roundup at Dixon Park.

Ballyclare Comrades 2 Portadown 1

Portadown had a chance to move into second-spot on Saturday, albeit only on goal difference, due to Carrick not having a game but instead it was the Comrades who came out on top to keep their chances of a top-six finish alive. After a slow start to the match, Stephen Hughes’ Ballyclare side managed to gain a foothold in the game and took the lead in the 19th minute when Ports ‘keeper Declan Dunne couldn’t hold a Jamie Willighan shot and Gary Donnelly was on hand to fire home the rebound. Willighan and Eoin Kane proved to be a constant thorn in Matthew Tipton’s team’s side throughout the afternoon and both had chances to extend the Comrades lead but were unable to do so before the break.

Like the first half, the Ports started the second half the stronger and eventually equalised when Ross Larkin headed home a Kyle Neil corner with just over 20 minutes remaining. The Comrades quickly sought to restore their lead and Kane and Samuel McIlveen found their paths to goal denied by the post and Dunne respectively but the winner did come in the 87th minute, when Willighan managed to force the ball over the line from a corner after the ball had hit the woodwork initially. This result moves the Comrades up to seventh in the table and they trial Loughgall by goal difference, Portadown dropped a place to fourth.

Dundela 1 Knockbreda 1

Over at Wilgar Park, there was an East Belfast derby being contested between Dundela and Knockbreda and in the end, there was nothing to separate either side as the Duns managed to snatch a point from the jaws of defeat. The game was a pretty scrappy affair played in difficult conditions but Jordan Baker and Patrick Cafolla had shots saved by home ’keeper Jonathan Sergeant. And at the other end, Dean Smyth had to be alert to save a David McMaster shot after his free-kick had been blocked by the defensive wall.

The breakthrough came in the 70th minute when ‘Breda were awarded a penalty and Baker stepped up to fire his side into the lead. The Duns managed to secure a point when substitute Ryan Nimick was on hand to head home in added-time after Smyth had saved a previous shot. A point for Knockbreda now moves them 11 points clear of bottom-placed Dergview and ten points away from the relegation play-off spot even though they dropped a place to tenth, Dundela’s promotion chances are still alive as they climb into third place.

PSNI 4 Harland and Wolff Welders 2

It’s now four games unbeaten in the league for PSNI as they managed a win against a Welders side that were fifth in the table and hoping to push themselves further towards the promotion spots going into Saturday’s game. The home side took a commanding lead into the half-time break with a brace from new signing Nathan O’Neill and Aaron Cochrane putting them three goals to the good.

PSNI dominated much of the game and extended their lead further in the 78th minute when Mark Anderson added his name to the scoresheet. The Welders did manage to add some respectability to the scoreline when Ross Arthurs and debutant Matthew Ferguson pulled goals back. This win moves PSNI up to ninth in the table and they will be going into the split comfortably clear of the drop zone, Norman Kelly’s Welders side are still not assured of a place in the top half.

Saturday’s results now leave the league table looking like this:

PosTeamPWDLGFGAGDPts
1Larne21163254153951
2Carrick Rangers2112273428638
3Dundela21105650391135
4Portadown2110563935435
5HW Welders21101103333031
6Loughgall218584235729
7Ballyclare Comrades218584046-629
8Ballinamallard United2183102831-327
9PSNI217593645-926
10Knockbreda2174103244-1225
11Limavady Utd2136122847-1915
12Dergview2142152846-1814

 

This Saturday sees a full set of fixtures in what is the finals set of league games before the table split in two and the top and bottom half sides play each other twice more. The following fixtures are due to take place this Saturday, all matches kick off on at 2:00pm unless otherwise stated:

Ballinamallard Untied v Ballyclare Comrades

Dundela v Carrick Rangers

Knockbreda v Limavady United

Larne v Loughgall

Portadown v Harland and Wolff Welders

PSNI v Dergview

In the meantime, you can read Darren’s Premiership roundup by clicking HERE, my last Premier Intermediate League (PIL) article HERE or Bryan’s Intermediate roundup HERE.