Glebe Rangers Old Boys stole a march on nearest challengers Hillview at the weekend when the Coleraine side could only manage a draw away to Dunaghy while the Ballymoney men took a comfortable victory away to West Bann Athletic.
Mountview and Berthas both recorded good wins against Hazelbank and The Villagers respectively while FC Macosquin comfortably seen off Coleraine Olympic. Finn McCools and FC Windyhall both won by the odd goal in 5 against Ballyrashane and Brook Street, and in the remaining game, Balnamore kept up their good run of later with a win against The Taverners.
This Saturday sees the Coleraine Social Club Shield Semi finals take place with Hillview, Hazelbank, Balnamore and West Bann Athletic all left in the hat. The draw has not yet been made but will have by the time this goes to press so to find out the fixtures and keep up with other league news, log on to www.htwl.leaguerepublic.com
West Bann Athletic 0 Glebe Rangers Old Boys 5
These two sides locked horns in the reverse league fixture at Lodge Road Playing Fields on Saturday morning. With two players suspended from last week player-boss Ian Bellingham drafted in old-stagers Jimmy Coulter and Davy-John McBride whilst Ronnie Reilly also returned to the starting line-up.
West Bann lined up along familiar lines and they signalled their intentions from the kick-off as Allen had to be on his toes to cut off a promising attack. Shortly after Woods should have scored but drove wide when well-placed inside the box. The Old Boys gradually settled with McBride showing well in midfield and the effervescent Paul Holmes a threat with his surges from the flank. The wind was to the visitors’ advantage and they used it to take the lead when McCurdy swung in a corner which fell nicely to Jason Wilmont to steer into the net.
West Bann reacted positively and Glebe’s rearguard had to be on their toes to deal with the constant threat from the strong running Pannott and McAfee. However the Old Boys increased their lead when Wilmont’s free-kick found Les Nicholl in space and he made no mistake from ten yards out.
Wilmont almost made it three just before half-time when his fierce drive was headed over by O’Kane. West Bann came out with all guns blazing at the start of the second period but were unable to penetrate a solid Glebe back four in which veteran Lee Kyle, playing in borrowed boots after he forgot his own, belied his years.
As West Bann pushed forward Glebe struck again after the stand-out Wilmont, fully meriting his man of the match award, beat Jones with a well struck shot. Ian Bellingham then got in on the act with a penalty after Blair was felled inside the box. However the big centre-half failed to make it a double when he somehow nodded wide from Wilmot’s cross.
As West Bann through caution to the wind Aaron Stewart made it five when he tapped home a Nicholl pass to complete the scoring. Despite the final score this was a competitive match from start to finish with both teams contributing to a fine spectacle. Man of the Match: Jason Wilmont (Glebe Rangers Old Boys)
Dunaghy Old Boys 1 Hillview FC 1
Dunaghy and Hillview served up a cracking game. Hillview were first on attack Docherty making a good save with his legs. Old Boys were working real hard as a unit and were frustrating Hillview with half chances not ceased on fully by W Blair and Moore. It went from end to end both defences and keepers staying on top but with virtually the last kick of the half Dunaghy took the lead when A Blair’s deep cross was tucked in at the back post by I Blair.
The second half saw Hillview press hard but Dunaghy’s Docherty was seemingly unbeatable with some good saves from Black and a Hutton header. Moore for Dunaghy went close followed by a Keers shot which was deflected wide for a corner. 0n 75 minutes Hickinson was sent of for a professional foul on Hillview’s black.
The extra man paid off almost instantly when Hutton got on to a low cross at the back post to sweep it in.
A couple of changes were made by Dunaghy with Bartlett and Murray thrown in at the deep end. Hillview pressed hard for a winner but when they looked to have beaten Docherty, Nathan Blair was on hand twice with great goal line clearances . It ended all square a draw a fair reflection on play. Man of the Match: Ricky Docherty (Dunaghy Old Boys)
Mountview FC 3 Hazelbank FC 0
Mountview made a good start to the game and were on top on the opening exchanges. Efforts were rewarded in the 10th minute when Doherty scored from a corner kick delivered by Willis. Mountview continued to move the ball however after some good work down the left by Hazelbank they produced a cross which looped over the defence and keeper hitting the crossbar and Mountview cleared their lines.
This gave Hazelbank some confidence and they started to retain the ball. The rest of the half was fairly even. Mountview started the second half in the same vein as the first and increased their lead again from a corner kick when Taggart rose well to beat the keeper from close range.
Again Hazelbank battled hard to bring themselves back into the game but found Mountview’s defence and keeper in fine form. Mountview put the game to bed in the 86th minute when after good work from Frazer down the right, Doherty got his second of the game. Man of the Match: Dave Parsons (Mountview)
Berthas FC 3 The Villagers 1
It was derby day in Castlerock with Berthas meeting The Villagers and it turned out a tough encounter for both teams. Berthas were the sharper out of the blocks with Pollock and McLaughlin both failing to find the net with just the keeper to beat.
The Villagers were battling hard without getting much joy and again Berthas should have scored after 20 minutes when McLaughlin rounded two players in the box but Best made a good save to deny the striker. Berthas finally took the lead when MacAulay pulled another of his specials out of the bag, lobbing the goalkeeper from near the half way line. They doubled their lead soon after when McLaughlin again beat two men before striking towards goal, the ball making it into the back of the net via a deflection off Davy Pollock.
This gave the Villagers a kick in the back side and they pulled one back moments later, Shirlow tapping home after Elder who had made a double save from MacFarlane and Wilson. The Villagers were in control in the opening 15 minutes of the second half with MacFarlane and Friel dragging wide when well placed.
Berthas gradually got back into it and Hanna, McLaughlin and Caldwell all fired wide from good positions. With time running out, Berthas grabbed their third when Ricky Pollock’s cross was diverted into his own net by the unfortunate Trevor Hutchinson. The Villagers pushed men forward and Elder had to be at his best to keep out strikes from MacFarlane and Mervin Hutchinson who was proving dangerous in attack. Berthas held on to record victory and keep their good run in the league going. Man of the Match: Davy Graham (Berthas FC)
Coleraine Olympic 2 FC Macosquin 6
With rumours of Macosquin going into administration as so many players have left recently the players on the pitch had a point to prove that they haven’t went away yet. Certainly the exodus of Macosquin players in recent weeks has left the squad slightly weakened however plans to rebuild are already in place. Goals and chances were coming at both ends of the pitch and how only eight goals were scored must remain a mystery.
FC got off the mark early on when Biggart hammered home a fine effort. They doubled their lead soon afterwards when Cambell (celebrating the birth of his new son) chipped the keeper from forty yards. Then it was the Hemphill show as the ginger assassin scored two fine goals in quick succession, one a close range volley and then a second with a cool curling effort from the outside of the box.
With Macosquin four up they pushed forward in search of more and Olympic caught them on the break with a cleverly worked goal. Their celebrations were short lived as Caldwell stormed forward for Macosquin to score a great fifth goal. With Macosquin making some subs and Olympic battling very hard the second half was very scrappy.
Olympic scored another great effort only for Caldwell to respond again by making it number six and his second of the evening.
The last ten minutes was again really hectic and the end to end football didn’t result in any goals but did serve to keep young Bovril fit running from box to box. Olympic well beat but must be really proud of their second half battling display. Man of the Match: Craig Caldwell (FC Macosquin)
The Taverners 0 Balnamore FC 2
On a cold Saturday morning Balnamore kept the heat up in the league with a fine win against a stubborn Taverners side. ‘Beetle’ Blair opted to field the same side that started last week’s cup triumph whereas Taverners boss Marshall Craig was once again forced to shuffle the pack through player commitments and absentees. Balnamore started the eager of the two sides but never really troubled Taverners early on. The wind played havoc with long balls so both teams endeavoured to play the short passing game.
Sean Hogg looked like he had given Balnamore the lead with an excellent strike only for the heroics of a fine save by the ‘young’ Gerry Kinnaird in goal. Phil Hanna also went close only for the wind to carry it over. Trotter an co battled well for the Taverners but found it hard to create an opening through the solid Balnamore back line.
Fine build up play from Balnamore led to their opening goal. On song striker Simon Armstrong netting once again with a fine finish after excellent play by Tweed Hanna and Hogg. Taverners were awarded a penalty soon after. Keeper James Elder penalised for his challenge, but the big man produced another save from the spot for the second week in a row.
After the break Taverners continued to frustrate the visitors, Cathal Mooney the pick of the men in yellow. As the game wore on Balnamore’s pressure paid off, Simon Armstrong getting his second goal of the day with a fine volley after pouncing on a loose ball to secure another three points for the Fulton Park boys. Man of the Match: Lee Kelly (Balnamore)
Ballyrashane FC 2 Finn McCools 3
Ballyrashane started this game brightly and they struck first when they broke from a Finns corner with quick attacking play with Jordan Dallas slotting home. Finns knew they had to get back into the game, and they did when A McAfee went one on one with the keeper making no mistake.
Again Finns put on the pressure with more good passing football pushing the opposition back in their own half. The pressure paid of when Finns got a free kick just outside Ballyrashane’s eighteen yard box J Watton stepping up putting it into the bottom corner.
Ballyrashane drew level at the start of the second half as Alan Freeman headed home.
Again Finns knew they had to push to get the three points, and they did with all the pressure again when J Parke for the second week in a row got the winner. Man of the Match: Ali Dobbin (Finn McCools)
Brook Street 2 FC Windyhall 3
Both teams went in to this fixture knowing three points were a must. Windyhall were putting on the pressure to try and open the scoring but it wasn’t until the 25th minute the deadlock was broken. Jamie Allen winning the ball in midfield before taking the ball around two Brook Street players and perfectly placing the ball past the on coming keeper and into the corner.
They grabbed a second on 38 minutes as Donnell’s free kick proved too hot to handle and Jason Johnston slotted in the rebound. It should have been 3-0 soon after as Caughey stole the ball but he chose to shoot instead of pass to the unmarked Johnston and his effort was saved.
They were punished for this just before half time as Joel McDonald pulled a goal back for the hosts. And they drew level halfway through the second half as Boyd tapped in from close range.
This fired the young Windyhall team up and they started to come forward with more authority. Chances for Bradley, Johnston, Caughey and Sweeney all went begging. With 15 minutes remaining there was a clash of heads between Brook Street’s Smyth and Windyhall’s Donnell. Both men ended up needing hospital attention. This left Brook Street with 10 men for the last 15.
With two minutes of time remaining Windyhall made the extra man advantage count. Jamie Allen latching onto the ball 30 yards out took the ball past a Brook Street defender who then drove a left footed shot over the keeper.
Both teams would like to congratulate Brook Street manager Steven Friel and partner Ciera on the birth of their son Charlie. Both teams also hope Martin Smyth and Stephen Donnell make speedy recoveries. Man of the Match: Jamie Allen (FC Windyhall)