GLEBE Rangers Old Boys continue to lead the way at the top of the Hutchinson Tiles Winter League after Saturday’s round of matches.
The Ballymoney men comfortably seen off the challenge of basement boys Coleraine Olympic. Bertha’s FC, who started the day in second place, dropped to fifth as their poor run of form continued after they suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of West Bann Athletic, a well deserved win and a performance to boot that defies Steven Fleming’s men’s’ low league position.
Hazelbank moved up to second place with a hard fought victory against The Villagers, while Riverside moved up to third as a single goal was enough to see off Finn McCools in Bushmills. Balnamore ended Dunaghy Old Boys run of 15 straight wins as the two teams battled out to a 1-1 draw. Elsewhere there were wins for both Macosquin sides, Mountview and Ballyrashane, who picked up their second win on the bounce.
This Saturday sees the semi finals of the Knockout Cup take place with two interesting games up for decision. Glebe Rangers Old Boys take on Dunaghy Old Boys in a real 50/50 clash at the Joey Dunlop Centre. Dunaghy have the advantage of gaining victory over their opponents in their only meeting this season, and go into this on the back of a 16 game unbeaten run. But Davy John McBride’s troops are top of the league having lost only three times in all season and will probably start the game as slight favourites.
The other sees Hazelbank host Berthas FC in a repeat of last year’s final. Hazelbank took that one by the odd goal in 9 and will start off favourites in this one. The two teams fought out a 3-3 draw earlier on in the season, but Bertha’s form of late will give Hazelbank the edge going into this one. Either game could need extra time and penalties. As always, keep up to date with all the league happenings at www.htwl.leaguerepublic.com
Coleraine Olympic 0 Glebe Rangers Old Boys 3
Coleraine Olympic and Glebe Old Boys met in this return fixture at Rugby Avenue on Saturday morning with Glebe looking to continue their recent good form. The Old Boys, missing ace marksman James Steele, played with the wind in the first half but failed to make this count early on.
Indeed the best chance fell to Olympic when Sweeney drove wide when well-placed inside the box. This seemed to act as a wake-up call for the visitors and they pressed forward for the remainder of the half. Colin McBride shot tamely at Drydz before Glebe took the lead from a Wilmont corner. Bellingham was awarded the goal although it may well have been one of the home defenders with the final touch.
Patterson was then denied what seemed a clear penalty before Bellingham skied over from close range.
The second half saw Glebe continue to push forward in search of their second with Olympic content to counter-attack. Glebe went further ahead when Wilmont, with a rare header, nodded home a Colin McBride cross. Mervyn Greer notched the third with a well-struck effort from outside the box to complete the day’s scoring.
Colin McFetridge was introduced for Glebe after a spell on the sidelines and showed some nice touches in an unfamiliar left midfield role. Thereafter Glebe were content to see the game out although Olympic, with Vauls prominent, pressed forward to the end and it took a well-timed challenge from Lee Kyle to deny the home team.
Man of the Match: Ian Bellingham (Glebe Rangers Old Boys).
Berthas FC 1 West Bann Athletic 5
West Bann Athletic travelled to Castlerock to face Bertha’s who were looking to get there league challenge back on track. Athletic started the better of the two teams and forced a corner after a good move down the West Bann Athletic right side, Michael Olphert delivered a peach of a cross which was met by the head of Peter O’Kane at the front post to give the Bertha’s keeper no chance.
Athletic pushed for a second and were rewarded in the 18th minute when the hard working Lee West controlled well when played in by Martin Robinson, who finished well via a deflection off Hoey. Athletic were well on top for the next 20 minutes and continued to push for a third goal.
Athletic’s pressure paid off and they found themselves 3 up in the 39th minute when Michael Olphert tapped into an empty net from six yards after McCrory had saved McCallion’s initial effort. On 44 West Bann Athletic made it 4 with Lee West getting his second of the game with a header at the back post with the assist coming from his strike partner Michael Olphert.
Athletic stormed out of the blocks at the start of the second half looking to add a fifth goal and were not to be denied with the hard working Martin Pancott getting the goal, finishing off a great move down the West Bann left side and making it 5-0 to Athletic in the 50th minute.
Berthas seemed to lose all discipline on and off the pitch and were subsequently reduced to 10 men. This however seemed to have a positive effect on Bertha’s, and although they rarely threatened from open play they did have a good spell of pressure with their main threat coming from the long throws of Chris Patterson or corners.
Berthas scored their consolation goal through Davy Graham who finished well when presented with the chance after good work from Davy Caldwell. This seemed to jolt Athletic back into some sense of urgency and they eventually got to grips with playing against 10 men. Athletic continued to threaten on the break and it was Martin Fleming returning from injury who came close to making it 6-1 in the last minute, however the big striker saw a great shot from 20 yards rebound off the post to safety. Management, players and all connected with West Bann Athletic would like to pass on our sympathies to the McCorriston family on there recent family bereavement.
Men Of The Match: West Bann Athletic Team.
Hazelbank FC 4 The Villagers 3
Hazelbank broke the deadlock with only two minutes on the clock as the Villagers defender nodded in to his own goal under pressure from McClarty. The Villagers kept battling though and drew level five minutes later thanks to a deflected effort.
Villagers should have got a second but a great double save from Crawford denied them. Hazelbanks Sheppard then picked the ball up inside his own half and played a perfect ball directly into the path of Ciaran Reid who held off the defender before firing in to the top corner.
The match was being played at a a high pace and the visitors drew level again after they were awarded a free kick on the right. Pollock’s inswinger was superbly headed home by Jamie Dunn.
The second half started much the same as the first ended, still being played at a fast pace. With 53 minutes a great through ball from the full back released McFarlane. His touch was good, which took him away from the defender and he fired in despite Crawford’s best efforts to put his side in front for the first time.
Hazelbank changed things round and sub Dave McClean made an immediate impact. The big man slotted a great through ball in for Ciaran Wilson to level things up.
Two minutes later McClean got the final touch to make it 4-3 to Hazelbank after Crawfor’ds initial header was blocked on the line.
Man of the Match: James Diver (Hazelbank)
Finn McCools 0 Riverside Athletic 1
Riverside travelled to Bushmills to face a vastly improved Finns team. Right from the whistle Finns had their visitors pushed well into their own half of the pitch. With Dobbin playing up front on his own and Rushe running from deep midfield they were causing all sorts of problems.
Riverside on the other hand huffed and puffed for most of the first half and all too often seemed to lose their way when they entered the final third. Riverside began the second period a lot brighter and Steven Boyce was soon called into action, saving well from Ryan Boyd.
With Finns starting to lose a bit of shape they called for much needed experience from the bench in the form of old soldier Billy Thompson who soon steadied the ship. With ten minutes remaining and the game heading for what looked like a draw Riverside called on their own ond soldier, Chris McCloskey, who took up the unfamiliar position of striker.
The move worked a treat when soon after coming on he played a lovely ball to White who beat Thompson to the ball and squared for Boyd who fired home to sent them home with all three points, when a draw was probably a fairer result. Man of the Match: Ricky Hanna (Riverside Athletic).
Balnamore FC 1 Dunaghy Old Boys 1
This game was always going to be interesting as both teams will meet again later in the shield final, not a classic, but it will have given both managers a look at the opposition. Dunaghy were the more lively of the two early on but Balnamore’s defence were solid and dealt with the threats from Christie and Robinson.
As the match went on Balnamore started to pass the ball well and create openings, Hanna linking with Kelly and Buick, but a good Dunaghy defence prevented any success on goal. Hogg’s pace caused problems down the right and Balnamore were unfortunate not to capitalise on a number of decent spells of quick attacking football.
After a goaless first half, both teams stepped up the pace, Armstrong missing narrowly from a good Hogg cross, and Dunlop had a couple of long range efforts go close. The break came for Balnamore midway through second half, after nice connecting play with Joe Connor, Ricky ‘Chin’ Blair raced through and fired his effort from the edge of the box beyond the Dunaghy keeper.
The score didn’t stay like this for long. Five minutes later a rare misunderstanding in the Balnamore defence let Ian Christie in who ran on to equalise. Ryan Maddison almost got number two for Balnmore but the keeper just did enough to prevent him. As the game died out Dunaghy went close through efforts from Dunlop and Patton with Elder in the Balnamore denying both. The home team were denied a clear call for a penalty when Willie Corr was upended in the area, but the ref refused to budge and waved play on.
Man of the Match: Gary Dunlop (Dunaghy Old Boys)
FC Macosquin 3 Somerset 2
An early goal from Somerset on fifteen minutes eventually proved non-decisive in a game that contained so many chances for Macosquin. Somerset lacked nothing in team spirit in spite of the absence of the players on the bench the starting eleven performed competently.
Unfortunately for Somerset they were constantly caught on the back foot by Macosquin, whose performance was undermined only by attacking ineptness. After Decy McGahon had pulled the score level with a low drive on the half hour the horror show began. Liam McGuiness should have gone to specsavers making far to many crucial mistakes in front of goal.
Despite his poor finishing his all round performance was excellent as he created most of the chances for his strike partner Declan McGahon. Ths culminated in a breathtaking run by McGuiness down the left flank ending in a cross and a neat finish for McGahon.
The second half was much of the same as efforts from Thomas TT cambell and Mark Mearns should have killed off the game.
Some of the Macosquin chances had to go in and again after some great link up play from McGuiness his strike partner McGahon completed a fine hat-trick to make the score three goals to one.
Somerset scored a superb header in the last ten minutes to make the game interesting for a time but effectively the game was finished.
Man of the Match: Patrick Conway (FC Macosquin).
Macosquin Village 6 Brook Street 2
This game started with both teams attacking and plenty of chances at both ends with Stewart and Laverty forcing the Brook Street keeper into some fine saves and Dinsmore and Smith going close for Brook Street. The visitors broke the deadlock on 21 minutes when Dinsmore beat the offside trap to slide the ball past McIntyre.
Sam Laverty levelled things up on thirty minutes when Riley’s precise pass put the wee forward through to cooly slot home from outside the box. Ronald Riley put Macosquin 2-1 up four minutes later with a real peach of a volley from twenty-five yards out with ten minutes left in the half but Brook Street levelled the score just before the break when a defensive error left Smith unmarked to score into a gaping net.
The second half started with Macosquin controlling the midfield and went 3-2 up on 57 minutes when Chrisy Wade’s low cross was tapped in by Aaron Laverty from inside the box. With Macosquin now in control Laverty repaid the favour on 65 minutes when he played Chris Wade through to score from close range to give Macosquin a comfortable lead.
With confidence high it wasn’t long before Macosquin got their fifth when substitute John Doherty neatly controlled Stewart’s pass and drive his vicious shot past the Brook Street keeper on 74 minutes. With Brook Street down to ten men after Cully was sent off Macosquin closed off the game with a great solo effort from Aaron Laverty to get his second and Macosquin’s sixth and a well deserved three points.
Man of the Match: Ronald Riley (Macosquin Village).
Hillview FC 0 Mountview FC 2
After last week’s defeats for both Hillview and Mountview, both teams were looking for better results in this match. For the opening minutes both teams were evenly matched, creating a couple of half chances each, but neither been able to score. It was Mountview who opened the scoring on 25 minutes, some good passing through midfield by Stacka, Watton and Kerr, played in McClenaghan, who beat his man and rifled his shot into the goal from a tight angle.
This raised Mountview’s game and the continued to press the Hillview defence for the remainder of the first half but where unable to break them down. Hillview had a chance late in the first half when Black made good work down the right wing, his cross was flashed across the Mountview six yard line but no-one was there to take advantage.
Mountview had another good chance half way through the second half when Stacks’ shot grazed the crossbar. With time running out Hillview then made a couple of changes and pushed men forward. This gave them some success as they started to press the Mountview defence. With five minutes to go, Hillview were reduced to 10 men and they struggled to maintain their pressure and with a minute to go, Mountview broke into the Hillview box. Kerr took the ball to the by-line and squared the ball to White who had the easy task of converting the ball into the open goal from four yards. Man of the Match:Richard Stanfield (Mountview).
The Taverners 2 Ballyrashane FC 4
Both teams were anxious to pick up the points but it was Ballyrashane who edged in front as a Taverners defender converted from Collins low cross. The hosts though drew level almost straight away as Ballyrashane failed to clear their lines.
Ballyrashane retook the lead though as McCandless’ cross beat the Taverners keeper and sailed in to the net.
In to the second half and it was Cooper’s turn to score against his old club to take his goal tally to five from five games since signing in January. A McLelland once again produced some fancy footwork to set up Ballyrashane’s final goal when Ben Watt slotted it home. Taverners got a late goal when a through ball reached their striker and he got past the defence to score. Man of the Match: Ben Watt (Ballyrashane)
Fixtures for Saturday 26 February
Glebe Rangers Old Boys v Dunaghy Old Boy’s Riada 2
Hazelbank v Bertha’s FC Rugby Avenue 3
Hutchinson Tiles League
Ballyrashane v Riverside Athletic Ballysally 2
Balnamore FC v Coleraine Olympic Fulton Park
Finn McCool’s v Macosquin Village Bushmills
Hillview FC v Brook Street Crescent 3
Mountview FC v Taverners FC Rugby Avenue 2
Villagers FC v FC Macosquin Castlerock
West Bann Athletic v Somerset Rugby Avenue 1