SML action resumes with Top Four semi-finals down for decision

After the last weekend off, the BSML restarts this Saturday with the two Montgomery-sponsored Top Four Semi Finals.

Ballymena Bowling Club president Nigel Robinson presents a sponsorship cheque to George Graham of Seven Towers FC while looking on are Aaron Gordon and Adam Gordon, George Graham and Ballymena Bowling secretary Joe McKeown. INBT 36-185CS

The first of these pairs the two teams who contested three of the major Semi Finals last season, with All Saints OBs winning two of the three, but Harryville Homers then went on to claim the Division One title.

Homers have grown in strength since last season, and with the addition of several new players, have started strong and are joint top of the League on 15 points – with a 100 per cent winning record.

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The arrival of David Nicholl has added extra guile to their midfield, and although they lost Ryan Stewart to Ballymena United, he has returned and adds further competition to all the large panel of players.

They are banging in the goals, with Captain Gary Bonnes in top form along with Paul McNeill and Alan Rainey.

All Saints OB have had a quiet start to the season with two wins and two draws in the Leagu.

They had leading goalscorer Arron Wilkinson returning, but he has since moved on to Glebe Rangers so their firepower up front is greatly reduced. They have added several young players to their squad and they are gradually setting in.

Homers are hot favourites to go through to the Final, but Saints have a good record in the Top Four, so it will be all on the day when they meet at Ahoghill.

The other Semi Final features Carniny Rangers and Randalstown Sky Blues at Connor.

Sky Blues have also added to their panel during the off season, and the introduction of Jonny Black helped them, but he has since moved onto Portadown.

Randal Reid is the driving force in this team, and with Henry Nutter adding goals, they have had a good start to the season, only losing one game in five to Harryville Homers when they had an under-strength side.

Carniny Rangers are in transition with several new youth players, but they still have Alex McCosh in goal, Maurice Spence at the back, Frazer Young and Ryan Balmer in midfield.

Meanwhile, up front Rico Wylie and the tricky Maurice McDowell are a handful for any team.

The Top Four has not been won by the team who went on to be BSML League Champions since 2001/3 season, so can any of the teams who win the Top Four break the hoodoo?

COUNCIL DECISION

At the BSML Council Meeting last Thursday, the Council awarded 3-0 wins and three points to Harryville Homers and Ahoghill Thistle, as Shore Wanderers and Carnlough Swifts respectively failed to fulfil their fixtures.

FIXTURES

Saturday 7th September (10.15am) - Montgomery Sponsored Top Four Semi Finals: All Saints OB v Harryville Homers (Ahoghill); Carniny Rangers v Randalstown Sky Blues (Connor).

Ballymena Mortgages BSML Division One: Abbeyview v Ahoghill Rovers (Forum); Ballykeel v Ahoghill Thistle (Ballykeel); FC Moylena v Shore Wanderers (Forum); FC Penarol v Carnlough Swifts (Showgrounds 5); Michelin v Clough Rangers.

Ballymena Mortgages BSML Division Two: Braid United v FC Antrim (Broughshane); Cloughmills v Seven Towers; Cushendall v Waveney Swifts; Holywell v Raceview (Forum); North End Shamrocks v Connor (Dunfane 1); Riverdale v St Comgalls (Wakehurst 2).

Ballymena Mortgages BSML Division Three: Atletico Antrim v FC Bayern Money (Forum); Glenravel v Galgorm Blues (Waveney 2); Lisnafillan Swifts v Newpark Olympic (Showgrounds 4); Steadfast v Cullybackey Olympic (Galgorm); Templepatrick v Wakehurst Star (Forum).