Stephen Fleming’s men took a narrow victory away to Finn McCools and are now three points clear at the top of the table. FC Windyhall kept up their good start to a the season with a harder than expected win over Coleraine Olympic, while Portrush Old Boys took the points in their game with FC Crusaders. Berthas FC looked a shadow of last week’s team in their defeat by The Villagers, while Dunaghy Old Boys were victors over Brook Street. In the other games there were wins for Balnamore FC and The Taverners.
League action takes a break this weekend with the Coleraine Social Club Knockout Shield first round taking centre stage. Everyone involved with the Hutchinson Tiles Winter League would like to pass on their condolences to the family and friends of Steven ‘DD’ McDowell after he passed away last week.
Finn McCools 3 West Bann Athletic 4
Finns were unlucky not to take anything from this game against West Bann Athletic as they led twice and dominated for large parts of the game. Finns goal scorers were Jonny Parke, Alastair Dobbin and Steven Callaghan while Athletic replied through Macky McCandless, Luke Bacon and a brace from Athletic striker Lee Nevin who scored the winner late on to win Athletic a hard fought and fortunate three points to maintain there unbeaten start to the season. Man of the Match: Aaron McClelland (WBA FC)
FC Windyhall 2 Coleraine Olympic 1
The home team went into this match as the favourites. Windyhall started bright instantly putting the pressure on the Olympic defence but Windyhall were very wasteful in what chances they had. Windyhall did go in front on the 35th minute. Mark Crawford making only his second appearance for the club scored his first goal with a well placed shot into the corner past the Olympic keeper.
Windyhall started brightly in the second half but yet again were very wasteful in their attempts on goal. Windyhall’s second goal came in the 55th minute from a freekick won in their own half Tennant played a 60 yard ball that caught Olympic sleeping, right to the toe of Donnell who dinked it over the onrushing keeper. Olympic pulled a goal back on the 72nd minute with a cross from the right was met by a unmarked Jon Sweeney at the back post to head into the corner. Man of the match: Alan Grills (FC Windyhall)
FC Crusaders 1 Portrush Old Boys 6
FC Crusaders entertained Portrush FC Old Boys at Rugby Avenue with a somewhat depleted squad due to a number of their players attending the wedding of Donald Newton. All the players and staff at Portrush Football Club would like to extend their best wishes to Donald and Julie-Ann on their wedding day. Portrush started the game brightly and took the lead in the first minute when an exchange of passes between D Wills and Shirlow ended with a deep cross which Martin fired at the keeper who saved only for McAllister to pick up the pieces and fire high into the roof of the net.
Portrush settled into the game but were caught in the 11th minute when a cross eluded the Portrush defence for Archibald to finish on the volley. Archibald continued to cause the Portrush defence trouble on the break but they took the lead in the 32nd minute when D Wills crossed for Fraser to convert.
Portrush continued to press in the second half and Fraser got his second of the game converting from a corner swung in from Shirlow. Portrush extended their lead further when Doherty crossed for McClelland to finish. Doherty again was the provider for their fifth goal and having slipped the ball in to McClelland, who showed great awareness to dummy for the oncoming D Wills who scored low into the corner.
The final goal of the game came when Shirlow danced through the FC Crusaders defence only to be brought down and the referee awarded a penalty. Doherty stepped up to convert for his first goal of the season having missed the early games through injury. Man of the Match: Noel Lafferty (Portrush Old Boys)
The Villagers 1 Berthas FC 0
Berthas were brought back down to earth following their excellent 7-0 win against the Glebe last weekend, by the excellent team performance from the Villagers in this derby match. The Villagers were right up for this one and after showed their intent in the first minute when Shirlow closed down the Berthas keeper and got a toe to the ball before the keeper made a superb recovery to somehow put it out for a corner.
From the resulting corner Ryan Pollock’s header almost went in, another corner and another header this time by young Jack Danton also went close before Shirlow went close again with another header. In the 34th minuate Ryan Pollock scored a fantastic free-kick from 20 yards, drilling it in the bottom corner with the Bertha’s keeper helpless. The Villagers will feel unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty following a hand ball in the Berthas box.
In the second half again it was the Villagers doing the attacking with Macfarlane, Shirlow and Hutchinson going close. Both sides had goals chopped off for offside late on. Berthas never really threatened the Villagers goal and that was down to every Villagers player playing out of their skin. The Villagers were delighted to win this derby and record their first victory over Berthas. Man of the Match: Ryan Pollock (The Villagers)
Hazelbank FC 2 Balnamore FC 3
This fixture usually serves up an interesting game and Saturday again didn’t disappoint. The game started with both sides conjuring up limited chances as the first ten minutes was pretty even. The game however came to life in the 17th minute, A Hazelbank player handled the ball in the area, the referee awarded a penalty and Balnamores Simon Armstrong stepped up to fire the visitors into an early lead. To make mattters worse for the hosts they lost Hemphill to a controversial red card after picking up two very soft bookings.
Five minutes later Armstrong got his and Balnamores second, the in-form striker closed down keeper McClarty as he attempted to clear the ball, with the result the keeper’s kick rebounded off Armstrong and into the net. Two became three as David McDowell found the space ran through the middle and fired home.
The second half saw a different Hazelbank emerge, they reorganised the pack and came at Balnamore, and were rewarded when James Smith pulled a goal back on the hour. Balnamore also pressed but just couldn’t close out the game. Johny McIlreavy grabbed a second for ten man Hazelbank to leave a tense finish, but Balnamore dug deep to steady the ship and take the three points in a very entertaining game. Both sides meet next week again in the cup. Man of the Match: James Smyth (Hazelbank)
Brook Street 0 Dunaghy Old Boys 6
Brook Street and Dunaghy Old Boys met at the Crescent pand before kick off observede a minute’s silence in memory of former Brook Street player Stephen ‘DD’ McDowell. When play started the Old Boys should have taken the lead inside 30 seconds but Kane denied Robinson.
Dunaghy were well on top and they finally got the break through on 27 minutes as Robinson finished after some good play by M Blair jnr.
Gary Dunlop made it two with a thunderbolt on 32 minutes before Wayne Blair added a third two minutes later as he dinked the ball over the keeper from Patton’s pass. The goal of the game came on 37 minutes as Patton and Arnie Blair exchanged passes before feeding N Blair who picked out Robinson at the back post for his second.
Brook Street tried to get back in to the game after the break but a brace from ‘Chin’ Blair sealed a good win for the visitors. Man of the Match: Gary Dunlop (Dunaghy Old Boys)
The Taverners 3 Ballyrashane FC 2
The Taverners started strong putting pressure on from the start and were rewarded with a brace from the on form Shane McKee. On the half Ballyrashane got one back through John Freeman and then again just after the restart with a goal from Dylan Neill.
With this match even Taverners upped it a gear and took the lead throw Gareth Grimnes only for the away side to get a pen in the dying mins which crashed of the bar. Man of the Match: Lee Gray (Ballyrashane)