Berthas FC’s slim title hopes all but ended at the weekend as they were narrowly beaten away to Dunaghy Old Boys in the latest round of fixtures.
Portrush Old Boys now look like the nearest challengers to Glebe Rangers Old Boys after they took the points in their game with another title contender, West Bann Athletic.
Ballyrashane trounced Coleraine Olympic while FC Windyhall took the spoils in a tight encounter against FC Crusaders.
This Saturday hosts the remaining first round fixtures in the Knockout Cup. Berthas FC, West Bann Athletic and Portrush Old Boys are already through with five more teams to join them at the weekend.
Dunaghy Old Boys 2
Berthas FC 1
Dunaghy entertained Bertha’s on a wet blustery day and it was the Old Boys who were straight into attack with the wind in their backs.
Mark Blair JR opened the scoring on five minutes with an unstoppable drive into the far corner from 20 yards.
Berthas started to get to grips with the weather and on 10 minutes Stewart latched onto a through ball and slotted it neatly inside the near post. Both teams kept playing good football and both keepers did well with whatever was thrown at them.
But on 43 minutes ‘Chin’ Blair smashed a powerful header into the bottom corner from a Nathan Blair cross to give the old boys a 2-1 lead at half time.
Dunaghy were then defending against a strong wind but were never really troubled bar a couple of long range efforts from MacAulay.
Patton was controlling things in midfield and Warren Blair’s strong running was causing problems for Bertha’s back four and the Old Boys should have put the game to bed on a couple of occasions but were glad to see the game out with a hard fought victory. Man of the Match: Joe Patton (Dunaghy OB)
Portrush Old Boys 3
West Bann Athletic 1
Portrush Old Boys entertained West Bann on Saturday at Rugby Avenue in a game which was equally important to both sides.
Portrush started the game brightly and used both flanks to great effect. A sweeping move from the back found Martin on the right and his pin point cross field pass put Parsons through to slot past the advancing keeper to open the scoring.
Portrush continued to press and were further rewarded when Doherty skipped past the his marker and cross for the oncoming Shirlow to fire high into the net.
Portrush almost added a third but directly from the keepers delivery, West Bann won a corner kick and scored from the resulting corner to give a half time score of 2-1.
The goal prior to the whistle gave West Bann confidence and they pushed hard for the equaliser during a sustained period of pressure in the second half with Irwin and Wallace in great form at the heart of the Portrush defence. However,
Portrush scored a third to effectively end the contest when Martin got on the end of a cross to extend the lead.
Ballyrashane FC 7
Coleraine Olympic 0
This game at went ahead at a wet and windy rugby avenue between two teams really striving for maximum points.
The game started very cagey with both teams struggling with the conditions the home side started to play some good football and created a couple of half chances with great midfield play from Barr and co.
And they got there reward with a goal from Dylan Neil,the striker coolly finishing from McGrotty’s through ball to put the home side one up.
Dave Weatherall, playing against his former club, put Ballyrashane two up with a great header after a brilliant ball put in from Doey’s free kick.
The home side contained Olympic with a solid back four showing from Doey, Gray, Crawford and captain Alan Freeman.
After a spell of decent football the home team were three up after a corner wasn’t cleared fully and Lennon hammered home a bullet of a strike into the bottom corner.
Gray’s side were not playing the football they are capable of and wanted to improve in the second period.
After the break morrow got down the wing to deliver a wonder cross to his counterpart Magrotty who got the goal his performance deserved finishing well at the back post.
After a few subs Alan freeman went into the center of park for him to turn provider for talisman Neil to grab his second and then he provide him his third goal to complete a hat-trick and cap a great performance from the young man.
The home team had numerous chances though Jack Gray and Weatherall to increase there lead and claim at least a hat-trick each, their goals would have came if it wasn’t for some great goalkeeping by Philip Docherty in the Olympic goal, his counter part Newman in the Ballyrashane goal had a quiet game with little to do though was called into action to spare his defence’s blushes by stopping a certain own goal.
Credit to Olympic they never gave up and continued to try and mount a response all game though The game was saw out and Gray’s side came away with all three points, a great win, and a clean sheet despite some tricky conditions and a bagful of missed chances. Man of the Match: Dylan Neill (Ballyrashane)
FC Crusaders 1
FC Windyhall 2
With both teams struggling for players and the pitch in terrible state this match wasn’t going to live up to previous encounters.
With Crusaders only able to field 10 players it was Windyhall who started brighter.
Gazz Mullan’s free kick from the left wasn’t by the home defence and Cochrane was the quickest to react forcing the ball home. Windyhall pressed for a second but to no avail.
A Cochrane pile driver was blocked on the line, Clifton ran the length of the pitch only to see his effort hit the inside of the post before Cochrane brought another good save out of the home keeper.
Crusaders started to get a foot hold in the game but couldn’t get past the Windyhall defence. Crusaders came flying out of the traps in the second half and it wasn’t long before they equalised through a thunderbolt from Jonny McLaughlin.
Crusaders put the pressure on Windyhall but couldn’t seem to find the third goal of the game. Windyhall soaked up the pressure and were hitting the home team on the counter.
Aaron Tennant carried the ball from his own 18 yard box skinning no less than four players on his way before cutting inside on his weak foot and placing into the far corner.
The remainder of the game was seen out by Windyhall keeping the ball. Credit goes to FC Crusaders for a battling performance. Man of the Match: Ian McLelland (FC Crusaders)
Entries are now being taken for this year’s LMA League and Ballyrashane Cup competitions.
Last year’s LMA League saw FC Crusaders complete a league and cup double.
Several teams have already registered their interest in this year’s competition including Hazelbank Old Boys.
If you would like to enter a team contact Tommy Doherty on 07919 987747.
This year’s Ballyrashane Cup also looks like being a popular event.
If you would like to enter a team please contact Jimmy Alexander on 07814 460756.
The proceeds from both tournaments will go to the Help Wee Oliver Walk campaign.
Fixtures Saturday 15 February
Coleraine Olympic v Ballyrsahne Rugby Avenue 2
Dunaghy Old Boys v FC Windyhall Dunaghy
Hazelbank v Glebe Rangers Old Boys Rugby Avenue 2
Taverners v FC Crusaders Riada 2
Villagers v Balnamore Castlerock
Portrush Old Boys v Berthas FC Rugby Avenue 3
West Bann Athletic v Finn McCool’s Rugby Avenue 4