West Bann Athletic picked up the three points at the weekend with a big win over a strong FC Crusaders and regained top spot after Berthas FC lost at home to Portrush Old Boys.
Glebe Rangers Old Boys moved back into second spot with a good 3 points over the Taverners while Dunaghy kept up their good run of form with victory over Balnamore. Hazelbank scored 7 in the win against Coleranie Olympic while FC Windyhall took the spoils in a tight contest against Brook Street. Finn McCools won the remaining game of the day at home to The Villagers.
West Bann Athletic 9 FC Crusaders 3
WBA as they have done for the last few years played the game in an all red shirt sponsored by the Royal Air Force, black shorts and socks in memory of all fallen servicemen.
With three minutes on the clock FC Crusaders struck first through Bobby Archibald. Athletic were back on terms within five minutes through Phil Stevenson assisted by strike partner Lee Nevin. They took the lead through Aaron McLelland on the quarter hour with a headed goal from a Nevin corner. Phil Stevenson made it 3-1 and a double for himself again assisted by an inspired Nevin in the 23rd minute.
FC Crusaders were awarded a penalty however Athletic number one Paul Jones, outstanding in nets all game saved well to deny FC Crus a second goal. Phil Stevenson was to become a hat-trick hero four minutes later finishing well when played in again by his strike partner Nevin. Things didn’t get any better for the visitors on 30 minutes when Lee Nevin, with four assists to his name, scored to make it 5-1.
Nevin helped himself to a second goal on the hour and deservedly got his hat-trick five minutes later. FC Crusaders made it 7-2 with Archibald finishing well. WBA were awarded a penalty minutes later when Nevin was fouled and it was the same player who saw his penalty saved well by James Tosh. FC Crus made it 7-3 through Thomas Campbell in the 84 minute, however any joy took from this was short lived as from the restart Lee Nevin scored a goal of the season contender as he spotted Toshy off his line and lobbed him Beckham style from just inside the WBA half.
Nathan Black rounded off the scoring, a great individual and team performance in the 88 minute to make it West Bann Athletic 9-3 FC Crusaders at the final whistle. Man of the Match: Lee Nevin (WBA FC)
Glebe Rangers Old Boys 4 The Taverners 1
Gary Fulton, refreshed after last week’s break, returned to the Glebe starting eleven along with DJ McBride who once again demonstrated his commitment after receiving a last minute call-up. The Old Boys took the game to the visitors from the kick-off and, after forcing an early corner, player-boss Bellingham was on hand to turn in from close range.
Glebe continued to press but were unable to add to their tally until just before half-time when the impressive Fulton shot home from just inside the box. The Taverners stepped up the pace at the start of the second half and Doherty, who caused problems throughout, headed against the bar.
Glebe’s failure to take advantage of a number of opportunities came back to haunt them when Doherty pulled one back for the Taverners after a rebound off the unlucky Allen. However five minutes later ‘Midget’ Patterson, making a return after suspension, showed a touch of class with a fine lob from Allen’s long ball and the two goal cushion was re-established. Les Nicholl completed the scoring in the last minute to give the Old Boys the points. Man of the Match: Gary Fulton (Glebe Rangers Old Boys)
Berthas FC 1 Portrush Old Boys 2
It was the visitors who adapted more quickly to the game and looked the more assured side during the early exchanges. Ciaran Doherty started his first game of the season and gave Bertha’s defence much to think about. Berthas relied quite heavily on the long ball game but Irwin was equal to every challenge as he led the line in the Portrush defence.
The opening goal came from a build up on the left side, where Doherty beat his marker and fired a cross to the back post which eluded the keeper putting the visitors deservedly in front. A few minutes later it was the woodwork which saved Berthas from going further behind when a header from Mitchell was well saved, Parsons hit the post and Wills hit the bar all within a matter of seconds.
Berthas upped the tempo and created several chances which were saved or blocked. Berthas took the game to Portrush straight from the restart and gave the visitors defence much to contend with and seven minutes later, the equaliser did come as no surprise. A free kick was sent into the penalty area and was not cleared sufficiently, and Chris Patterson finished well.
As the game struggled to have any momentum, Doherty gathered the ball on the left flank, again beat his man and delivered a pinpoint cross to the back post, where ‘Bertie’ Barton met on the volley from close range to put Portrush into the lead again.
The final ten minutes saw the away defence hold strong despite Bertha’s push for another equaliser. And so this encounter proved to be a close affair, and Portrush will be delighted to take the points against a side as strong as Berthas. Man of the Match: Ciaran Doherty (Portrush Old Boys)
Dunaghy Old Boys 4 Balnamore FC 2
It was the Old Boys who drew first blood as Robinson produced a bit of trickery before picking out Warren Blair for a tap in. Balnamore drew level on 26 minutes as Tweed broke free before firing home. Parity didn’t last long though as Robinson fired in from the spot after Mark Blair jnr was fouled.
The visitors drew level again three minutes in to the second half as Simon Armstrong finished off a great team move. The game was nip and tuck after this but the turning point came on 74 minutes after Balnamore were awarded a penalty of there own. Armstrong stepped up and smashed it down the middle but stand in keeper Ian Blair managed to tip it over the bar.
From the resultant corner McNabb won the ball back and fed Patton who in turn released Mark Blair who coolly rounded the keeper to score. They gave themselves a two-goal cushion on 82 minutes as Arnie Blair finished well from the edge of the box.
With five minutes to go Balnamore were awarded another penalty but remarkably Blair saved again diving full stretch to push away Corr’s effort. Man of the Match: Mark Blair Junior (Dunaghy OB)
Coleraine Olympic 1 Hazelbank FC 7
Hazelbank got back to winning ways with a convincing 7-1 win over Coleraine Olympic at Rugby Avenue. The visitors though were made to work all the way by a determined Olympic side in the first half. Hazelbank opened the scoring on 16 minutes as Colin McClarty tapped home following a good move.
But they were caught out just three minutes later as John Sweeney finished at the second attempt after Crawford had saved his initial effort. James Tosh put the visitors back in front again eight minutes before half time as he headed in Boyd’s cross. Boyd teed up McClarty for his second on 50 minutes before Tosh completed his brace soon after.
McClarty rounded off his hat-trick on 75 minutes before his brother Alan came off the bench to pick off up a quick fire double, one an excellent left volley which crashed in off the underside of the bar. Man of the Match: Marty McCrory (Hazelbank)
FC Windyhall 2 Brook Street 0
True to form this was another tight affair between the sides. Windyhall should have took the lead early on but Donnell, Johnston and Sweeney all spurned their opportunities. The opener finally arrived a minute before the break when Johnston headed home Lyle Crawford’s free kick.
They gave themselves a two-goal cushion on 57 minutes when Johnston finished from close range after Harbinson’s initial effort was saved by Kane. Man of the Match: Tommy Harbinson (FC Windyhall)
Finn McCools 4 The Villagers 1
Finns started the better of the two teams and took an early lead as Dobbin cut open the defence with a suberb pass that was crossed in by Cochrane to Moore who sent it home to an empty net. The Villagers equalised when a long throw was well finished into the bottom left hand corner. I
The hosts regained the lead in spectacular fashion after half time as Moore, close to the half way line, chested the ball down and struck a superb volley which lobbed the Villagers keeper. Finns began to play on the break and were rewarded for their efforts when Taylor went down the left wing and provided a shot on goal for Dobbin which was parried out to the oncoming Moore who bagged his hat-trick with a cool finish.
With 20 minutes to go Dobbin went through on goal after a mix up in the Villagers defence to beat the oncoming keeper through his legs. Man of the Match: R Moore (Finn McCools)