Glebe Rangers Old Boys and Hillview kept up the pace at the top of the table with wins at the weekend against Ballyrashane and Brook Street respectively.
Mountview got back to winning ways with a comfortable win against Coleraine Olympic while a single Liam McGuinness goal was enough to give FC Macosquin the points against The Taverners. Berthas won by the odd goal in five away to Finn McCools as West Bann Athletic and Dunaghy fought out a 1-1 draw. In the re-scheduled Coleraine Social Club Shield first round games, Balnamore and Hazelbank FC progressed in tight contests.
All teams using facilities allocated by Coleraine Council are reminded that payment for pitches MUST be made before 9pm on the Thursday preceding a Saturday fixture. Over the past few weeks several teams have neglected to comply with the stipulated time and the league have now been reminded by council that failure of teams to make payment on time MAY result in the offending team being denied use of facilities. Were this to happen the offending team would be liable to forfeiture of points and payment of pitch and possible payment of the referees fee.
Ballyrashane FC 0 Glebe Rangers Old Boys 2
These two sides met for the first time this season on Saturday morning at Rugby Avenue. Ivan Elder and Lee Kyle were restored to the Old Boys starting line-up as Ronnie Reilly also returned to the squad after a lengthy absence. With Danny Allen injured the always dependable DJ McBride took over between the sticks.
The first half saw the Old Boys with the majority of possession but unable to turn it into goals. Ricky Blair miscued when well-placed inside the box and Ivan Elder shot over after a fine solo run. Les Nicholl, finding a lot of space by coming deep, was also at the heart of most of the Glebe attacks in the early stages but the home defence held firm with Doherty a steady presence in goal.
And in fact it was Nicholl who opened the scoring in the fifteenth minute, volleying home after Doherty had saved his initial shot. Ballyrashane responded immediately and Cooper shot wide when clean through. After this escape Glebe returned to the offensive and Madison shot against the post as the half drew to a close.
The second half continued with Glebe having the majority of possession and chances although Ballyrashane battled hard, McClenaghan and Dallas prominent in midfield and McIntyre putting himself about up front. Nicholl shot wide for the Old Boys after a fine ball from Kyle who had switched to left midfield after half-time. Doherty continued his fine form, finger-tipping away a cross as McBride waited to head in and then saving well from Nicholl.
Madison was unlucky to see his header screw wide before Paul Holmes, bursting through from midfield, finally got the decisive second goal after a fine lay-off from Nicholl. This left the final score two-nil to the Old Boys to seal a hard-earned three points. Man of the Match: Billy McCurdy (Glebe Rangers Old Boys)
The Taverners 0 FC Macosquin 1
Historically this match never has too many goals and today was never going to be any different. Both sides had some good chances early on but some fine goalkeeping from Tosh in the Macosquin goal kept a clean sheet for his team and continued his fine form this season. The deadlock was broke in the first half when big Liam McGuinness curled a fine effort into goal with the outside of his boot.
After this the match was fairly scrappy with the ball very rarely leaving midfield. Macosquin had several efforts to extend their lead but some poor finishing from Downs and Billy Cooke ensured that the Taverners always had a chance and they almost stole the point a few minutes from time but again found Tosh in unbeatable form. A very scrappy match and a great battling display from the Taverners but a very valuable three points for Macosquin who stay in third place in a very tight league.
Mountview FC 6 Coleraine Olympic 0
Mountview entertained Coleraine Olympic at Rugby Avenue on Saturday and it was the visitors who quickly settled into the game securing possession and a series of corners in the opening exchanges. Mountview failed to impose themselves and were careless in possession. However, they did generate the first real chance of the game when in the 22nd minute from a corner, Taggart unchallenged headed wide when well placed.
The visitors were then awarded a free kick which Lafferty in nets did well to save. Mountview then had the opportunity to take the lead but Doherty made a good save from debutant Barton after Mitchell had split the Olympic defence. Mountview were now settling into their passing game and took the lead in the 38th minute when Frazer ran onto a through ball, chipped the ball over the oncoming keeper and rolled it into the net.
The second half started with Mountview on the attack and their efforts were rewarded when Darryl Willis converted after a goalmouth scramble two minutes after the restart. Mountview continued to press and added a third when excellent work again by Willis ended with a penalty being awarded when he was upended in the box. Parsons stepped up to slot the resulting penalty in the bottom corner.
Parsons then added Mountview’s fourth and his second of the day when good work by Johnson released him to net from outside the box. The game was effectively over but still had time for Doherty to add two further goals, the first a sublime chip and the second an equally classy finish from a free kick. Man of the Match: Raymond Taggart (Mountview)
Finn McCools 2 Berthas FC 3
After two wins in as many weeks against league champions Mountview, Bertha’s would have been looking forward to, what seemed on paper, to a more straightforward match up with the men from Bushmills. But Finn’s are made of sterner stuff this season and so the tone of the encounter was set. Andy MacAulay’s opener, direct from a trademark free kick in the early stages might have suggested a rout was on the cards.
And when the home centre half put through his own net from a sumptuous MacAulay cross, the writing seemed to be on the wall. However, like an annoying dog, the home team refused to accept they were beaten. Shortly before the break, Elder in the Bertha’s goal fumbled the ball into the air. He was challenged by Johnny Parke and somehow the ball landed over the line.
Berthas nearly regained their two-goal advantage just before the whistle when McLaughlin crashed a shot which came off both posts before being played to safety. The second half started evenly. McCool’s were looking for the equaliser, whereas Bertha’s were seeking to put daylight between themselves and their rivals.
As it turns out, it was Bertha’s manager Chris Patterson with the decisive strike. Picking the ball up in the centre half position, he marauded forward. When he probably should have passed, he kept going. He evaded one challenge, then another like a balletic Messi or Ronaldo and found himself in on goal.
With glory beckoning, his left foot shot from the edge of the area was weak but with a slice of luck the ball took a nasty bounce, thus lifting it over the helpless home keeper. Bertha’s had chances to put the game to bed after this, McLaughlin, in particular, being wasteful (in contrast to his recent prolific form) while Elder also pulled off two top rank saves in the away goal.
Finn’s refused to accept they were beaten and, in the dying moments, grabbed another through Peter McAfee to set up a tense final couple of minutes. In the end Bertha’s held on to continue their recent run of good form. Man of the Match: Davy Graham (Berthas FC)
West Bann Athletic 1 Dunaghy Old Boys 1
West Bann Athletic and Dunaghy played out a competitive 1-1 draw at Rugby Avenue. Paul Robinson put the visitors up 1-0 after good work from player manager Arnie Blair. Athletic equalised through Martin Pancott 10 minutes into the second half. Both teams went in search of a winning goal however honours remained even at the end of 90 minutes. Man of the match: David Hunter (West Bann Athletic)/R Doherty (Dunaghy O/B’s).
The Villagers 1 Balnamore FC 3 (Sheild 1st Round)
Balnamore booked their place in the next round of the cup with a strong comeback against a tricky Villagers side in Castlerock. The home side started the brightest and impressed upon the visitors goal right from the whistle. This pressure paid off with only four minutes on the clock, Lee Wilson the man who pounced on the loose ball to tap home and give the Articlave men the advantage.
Villagers had couple chances to double the score but was let down by their finishing. Balnamore settled and started to look more like themselves creating chances with Sean Hogg going close. For all the hard work Balnamore deserved a reward and it came just before half time, Philip Hanna dinked a delicate ball over the Villagers back line, Simon Armstrong ran onto it, kept his cool and placed his effort beyond Best in goal to score and go in level at the break.
The second half saw Balnamore looking the more solid, esp at the back, and kept their shape. they soon added another goal, this time David McDowell found space in the box, turned and fired past keeper Best after good work by Lee Kelly. Simon Armstrong added his second of the match on the eighty third minute, Villagers failed to clear a route one ball by McClarty only to see Balnamore striker Armstrong connect sweetly and lob the ball over a despondent Best for the visitors third. the home side battled to the end, although Balnamore should have netted twice in the last five minutes with two spurned chances. A good solid game by both sides ,but its Balnamore who proceed. Man of the Match. Simon Armstrong (Balnamore)
Saturday 20 October Balnamore FC v Mountview FC Fulton Park
Bertha’s FC v West Bann Athletic Castlerock
Coleraine Olympic v Villagers FC Rugby Avenue 2
Finn McCool’s v Dunaghy Old Boy’s Bushmills
Glebe Rangers Old Boys v FC Windyhall Riada 2
Hazelbank v FC Macosquin Rugby Avenue 1
Hillview FC v Ballyrashane Crescent 3
Taverners FC v Brook Street Riada Stadium