Glebe Rangers took another massive step towards the Hutchinson Tiles League title with victory over last year’s champions Mountview with a late Ivan Elder strike giving his side all three points.
Hillview kept up the pressure in second place with a good win over Hazelbank, while Berthas moved into third with victory over FC Macosquin. FC Windyhall kept up their good league form since Christmas with an excellent win away to Balnamore while there were victories for Finn McCools and West Bann Athletic. Brook Street and Dunaghy fought to a draw in the remaining tie.
Next week plays host to the semi finals of the Knockout Cup. Glebe Rangers face Berthas FC and will start off rightfully as favourites having beat their opponents only two weeks ago. The other tie sees Balnamore face Finn McCools. On paper Balnamore should be favourites but their form has stumbled of late with Finns in great form so a slight upset could be on the cards.
Glebe Rangers Old Boys 3 Mountview FC 2
Last season’s top two met for the first time this season at Megaw Park on Saturday morning and it was a hard fought affair on a bumpy, uneven surface. The Old Boys made a great start with Les Nicholl stabbing them in front with only three minutes gone and the same player had a good chance to increase the lead shortly after but failed with an attempted lob.
The visitors soon settled and enjoyed the majority of possession with Kerr and Martin prominent down the right flank and Willis impressing up front. Willis drew a fine save from Allen as Mountview sought an equaliser, but there was to be no more scoring in the first half. The Old Boys doubled their advantage when Paul Holmes latched on to a Patterson pass and his cross was deflected into his own net by the unlucky Martin.
However Mountview soon hit back when Raymond Taggart nodded home a free-kick. And it was from another set-piece that the visitors equalised when, after what can only be described as ‘Keystones Cops’ defending by the home side, veteran Dave Parsons swooped to slot past Allen.
At this stage Mountview looked the more likely winners but talisman Ivan Elder made the decisive break in the 86th minute when he latched on to Blair’s header to round McLaughlin before finishing to give the Old Boys a valuable three points. Man of the Match: Daryl Willis (Mountview)
Hillview FC 2 Hazelbank FC 0
Hillview went in to this game knowing three points was a must to keep their title hopes alive.
The visitors started the game well and went a goal up within ten minutes. A well struck free kick from McDonald was deflected in by Nathan Black who has been very consistent for Hillview all season. To be fair to Hazelbank they didn’t let their heads drop and played some decent football, but they just couldn’t find a way past the man of the match duo in the heart of Hillview’s defence, McCrellis and Sweeney, who were brilliant through out the game.
Hillview changed there formation at half time puting five in the midfield and this worked to their advantage as they kept possession and played some neat football. Hazelbank played some good stuff too but they couldn’t find the net with any of their chances. And they were made to pay midway through the second half as Hillview grabbed their second.
McVey whipped a great ball into the box and Timmy Close’s near post header was deflected into his own net by the unlucky Kelly who couldn’t get out of the way. Both teams had good chances but the keepers made some great saves to keep the score down. Hillview were happy enough to sit back and play on the counter attack to record a valuable three points.
Men of the Match: Ryan Sweeney and Raymond McCrellis (Hillview)
Berthas FC 2 FC Macosquin 1
Both teams struggled to field the bare XI for this game in Castlerock with Berthas Manager Chris Patterson wearing the gloves and jumping inbetween the sticks for the home team. It was a slow start by both teams with FC Macosquin shading possession without creating any real chances. It was Berthas who did have the first decent chance, MacAulay’s fine long ball was headed on by Caldwell for his strike partner Biggart to run clean through, but the wee man scuffed his shot just past the post.
FC Macosquin took the lead when Downs controlled the ball on the left, cut inside before bending a beauty of a strike into the top corner of the net. Berthas found an equaliser 10 minutes before half time when a quick throw out from Patterson found Lee McIlreavy, he played in the advancing Drake with a peach of a pass, the midfielder picked out Biggart who this time made no mistake from eight yards with his right foot.
Into the second half and it was Berthas with more of the possession and chances but they couldnt find a way through with a Davy Caldwell header which grazed the post the closest they came while Biggart was proving a contstant threat for the home team. At the other end, Patterson made a decent stop from a Downs strike and Ian McClelland was denied by an offside call.
With a draw looking likely, Biggart had other idea’s when he latched on to Laverty’s sweet pass to fire low and hard across Tosh and into the net. Berthas saw out the remaining 10 minutes to pick up a good three points. Man of the Match: Lee Biggart (Berthas FC)
Finn McCools 3 The Villagers 2
The last time these teams met it was won by one goal. In this game it was Finns who took the lead from a corner when Dobbin found himself unmarked turning and putting the ball into the top of the Villagers net. Finns played good passing football in the midfield area but the oppositions defence made sure that the Finns strikers were kept at bay.
Villagers had a good spell midway through the half when they scored as the Finns keeper hesitated going for the ball and the Villagers player slotting it in the net. Finns came back a short period after scoring from Adair who used his pace to outrun the Villagers defence hitting the back of the net making it 2-1.
Finns soon made it three when (Dirty Harry) S Callaghan ran at the Villagers defence from the wing shooting and scoring from inside the area. Second half was also tight with Villagers starting to get more shots on goal and this paid off when they scored again to make it 3-2. Finns held on to this scoreline even with Villagers pressing hard in the last five minutes. Man of the Match: S. Callaghan (Finn McCools)
Balnamore FC 1 FC Windyhall 2
Both teams lined up with similar formations and with key players missing on both sides it was going to be a tight encounter. Balnamore were the better team in the first half although there normal passing game was being well broke up in midfield by Thompson, Cochrane and Donnell. Balnamore however did break the deadlock on 19 minutes.
A corner from the left hand side that Windyhall failed to clear, was tapped home by Philip Hanna. Windyhall were intent on pulling level but the Balnamore centre half pairing of Connor and Blair stood firm to prevent them doing so. Balnamore could of had one or two more before half time but just couldnt put the ball in the net. Windyhall came out in the second half knowing they should be more than one down and were determind to get the next goal.
On 54 minutes that goal came. Donnell playing a 40 yard ball in behind the left back for Collins, his cross found Sweeey at the back post who controlled only to be brought down by Joe Connor. He then talked himself into a red card for foul and abusive language leaving Balnamore with 10 men and Elder with a penalty to face. Donnell made no mistake in firing home 1-1 game on.
One soon became two for Windyhall. A free kick just inside the Balnamore half saw Crawford play the ball to Donnell. With the keeper right in his face and the ball bouncing Donnell managed to lob it over Elder into the net. Balnamore threw everything they had at Windyhall. Newman pulling off three good saves.
The pick of the lot was a long range drive from Dee Dee McDowell which was destined for the top corner only for Newman to tip onto the post with his defence clearing up. The Windyhall defence marshalled by Lyle Crawford stood firm and took everything their opponents had to offer. A good result for Windyhall although it could of been a different game had Balnamore took their chances. Man of the Match: Stephen Donnell (FC Windyhall)
West Bann Athletic 6 Coleraine Olympic 1
West Bann Athletic took all three points on offer against a spirited Coleraine Olympic at Rugby Avenue 6-1. First half goals from Luke Bacon and Jody Woods, who both finished well when opportunity presented itself, with Olympics making it 2-1 at the break through David Weatherall. Olympic pushed hard in the early part of the second half for an equaliser, however it was Athletic and Martin Pancott who scored the next goal of the game to make it 3-1 to Athletic.
West Bann Athletic scored another three goals in the last half hour with Mark McLelland finishing well after neat build up play to make it 4-1, Peter O’Kane made it 5-1 with a bullet header and Aaron McLelland scored with a fine shot from 20 yards after a tactical footwear change to make it 6-1 to this year’s shield finalists. Man of the Match: Peter O’Kane (WBA FC)