Glebe Rangers Old Boys, Berthas FC, Balnamore FC and Finn McCools all made it through to the semi finals of the Knockout Cup after Saturdays quarter finals.
Berthas saw off Mountview in the tie of the round by the odd goal in three and will now face Glebe Rangers Old Boys in the semi finals, who saw off West Bann Athletic in their tie. Balnamore won through in a tight encounter against Dunaghy Old Boys and they will face Finn McCool,s who comfortably went through against Ballyrashane.
In the league, Hillview continued to put pressure on Glebe at the top of the league with a win against FC Macosquin while the other to games finished with a draw.
Berthas FC 2 Mountview FC 1
These two met for the second time in Cup competition this season with Berthas winning their encounter in the shield. Mountview would have been looking for revenge but could only field 10 men for this one while Berthas had to reshuffle their pack with a few first teamers missing also. It was all Berthas for the first 35 minutes, a period of time which saw them score two goals but really should have had at least four for their efforts.
The first came when Davy Graham slipped in Biggart, he held off Keith Willis before prodding the ball past McLaughlin in the away team goal. Biggart should have got number two when put in by McIlreavy, but the wee man could only shoot straight at McLaughlin. They did get their second 10 minutes later when McLaughlin again saved from Biggart after a good passing move, but Ricky Pollock was on hand to fire home.
Berthas then missed a glorious chance for number three when Barcelona like play from Drake and Hanna down the left hand side saw the former pick out Biggart who surprisingly fired over from three yards. Mountview started to come back into it and they were given a lifeline when Doherty was adjudged to have been brought down in the box, Hugh McAllister stepping up to lash the penalty into the back of the net.
Mountview continued on the front foot for the remaining minutes without troubling Elder in home goal. The second half was similar to the first with Mountview putting a lot of pressure on the Berthas backline and they came close on a few occasions with Pollock making a brave block from a Doherty cross and Elder saving a Wills header from a corner.
Berthas found themselves in great positions on a few occasions but poor decision making meant they failed to find an all-important third goal. With the game entering injury time, Berthas attacked, but when they got crowded out, rather than running the ball into the corner, they gave it away and Mountview when straight up the other end with Doherty running clean through but the normally deadly striker opted to pass rather than shoot and Minihan cleared the danger.
Berthas held out for a nervy win and will face a big test in the semi finals against Glebe Rangers Old Boys. Man of the Match: Steven McIlreavy (Berthas FC)
West Bann Athletic 0 Glebe Rangers Old Boys 5
This cup quarter-final saw West Bann meet the Glebe in their third encounter of the season. Player-boss Ian Bellingham returned after his latest holiday to the Old Boys starting line-up whilst Ronnie Reilly was a late withdrawal with a recurrence of hamstring trouble.
Despite the persistent rain which made the pitch extremely slippery, both teams served up an entertaining game. Les Nicholl was presented with the first real opportunity from Blair’s astute pass but the striker lobbed over the bar. However he made amends shortly after with a fine finish from a Patterson through ball. West Bann pressed hard for an equaliser with Hunter and Pancott catching the eye but the Glebe defence, with McBride and Bellingham aided by the impressive Kyle, stood firm. Nicholl was also denied by Jones as the Old Boys looked to increase their lead but half-time arrived with no further scoring. With the conditions improving slightly the Old Boys wasted no time in adding to their lead. Jimmy Coulter, taking a break from his defensive duties, advanced to provide a fine cross for Nicholl to nod past Jones. Hunter volleyed over as West Bann strove to reduce the arrears but it was Nicholl who completed his hat-trick midway through the half with a smart finish from six yards. Nicholl then made way for Aaron Stewart who made it four with a close range finish after a fine save from the unlucky Jones had dropped at the sub’s feet.
Old stager Robert McCaw also saw action for the second successive week and demonstrated his worth with a fine shift in a wide midfield berth. In fact McCaw was involved in a fine passing move, which ended with Stewart teeing up the overlapping Coulter who made no mistake with a twenty yard strike to notch his first goal since April 1987. West Bann, by this time reduced to ten players due to injuries and tiring as a result, never gave up but were unable to penetrate the Old Boys rear-guard. Man of the Match: Billy McCurdy (Glebe Rangers Old Boys)
Balnamore FC 1 Dunaghy Old Boys 0
Balnamore progressed to the next round of the cup on Saturday with a hard fought win over an industrious Dunaghy side. Both teams started the game at a high tempo in typical cup tie fashion. Gary Dunlop was the first to test the keeper from long range but Elder had the shot well covered. Balnamore were finding the flanks their best route through a stubborn Dunaghy defence, Sean Hogg creating for both Lee Kelly and David McDowell, both just pulling their shots wide.
At the other end Dunaghy counter attacked, Warren Blair blazing off target after a good run on this occasion. Balnamore’s pressure paid off on the half hour mark when they won a corner. Lee Kelly floated the resulting kick nicely into the box, David McDowell unmarked elevated himself to meet the ball and head Balnamore into the lead. Both teams battled well after this, the midfield seeing most of the football as both sides dug deep. After the break it was more of the same, end to end stuff, but both lacking that clinical finishing.
Simon Armstrong broke free but his shot was palmed down by Murray in the Dunaghy goal. Balnamore held firm as Dunaghy pressed hard at the latter part of the match, James Elder saved well from Warren Blair from an acute angle and Ian Blair drew his shot across an empty goal. Brent Watton had a terrific chance to double the lead right at the end for Balnamore after a good run, but scuffed his effort just wide. It was a typical cup tie with exciting football, but it’s Balnamore who progress. Man of the Match: Mark Blair snr (DunaghyOld Boys)
Finn McCools 6 Ballyrashane FC 1
This was the last chance for these two teams to keep their season hopes alive in this cup match. In the bad conditions it was Ballyrashane who took the lead when Finns failed to clear their lines with the striker closing hitting the back of the net. Ballyrashane started to control until Finns got the break and scored making it 1-1. This settled Finns into the game bringing out some great saves from the Ballyrashane keeper. This pressure paid off when Finns took the lead. Finns made it three when again they put the opposition defence under pressure. Three became four for Finns just before half time.
The second half was a bit tighter with Ballyrashane coming into the game on occasions. The game was over when Finns got number five with a brilliant strike from Adair and made it six to finish off a good performance. Commiserations go to Ballyrashane who battled to the final whistle. Man of the Match: Peter McAfee (Finn McCools)
Hillview FC 4 FC Macosquin 1
The weather conditions on Saturday morning were terrible. The first goal came from a penalty McDonald placing the ball home after Tosh in the Macosquin net pulled Hutchinson down inside the box. Hillview were in total control from here on in with McDowell not having to make a save the whole of the first half.
Hillview’s second goal came ten minutess after the restart Hutchinson drilling a low corner to Gordon Patton, who side footed the ball into the corner of the net. Hillview were having a lot of possession and it didn’t take long to make it three Bobby Archibald rounding the keeper to slide the ball home. In fairness to Macosquin they worked hard throughout the game and this paid off as a good corner floated in for ‘Sparky’ to head home.
Hillview made it four after good work from Close down the right-hand side crossed the ball in for Todd to knock the ball in to his own net. This was another good three points for Hillview and keeps the pressure on the Glebe who have a string of hard fixtures coming up. Man of the Match: Gordon Patton (Hillview)
FC Windyhall 1 Coleraine Olympic 1
Both teams came into this fixture after cup defeats the previous week and Olympic made a flying start as just 18 seconds in the away team were up 1-0. A long ball forward caught the Windyhall defence by surprise, Jordan Greer bringing a good save out of Newman on his first attempt, but the rebound fell kindly to Greer once again and he made no mistake firing home.
This was the wake up call Windyhall needed. Chances for Johnston, Laverty and Donnell all found Philip Doherty in inspired form. Windyhall then had a goal wrongly called offside. Allen with a pin point ball into the box found Donnell’s run who fired home. Windyhall then pulled level on 28 minutes. From an Olympic goal kick Windyhall won the ball back on the half way line. Laverty played the ball through for Johnston who crossed for Allen to head home.
At this point it was all Windyhall but they couldnt get past Doherty once again and the scores remained level at half time. The second half kicked off and just like the first half it was all Windyhall. Donnell, Allen, Johnston all bringing good saves out of
Johnston also poked wide when one-on-one with the keeper. Windyhall were intent on getting the breakthrough and resulted in Olympic not being able to get out of their own half for the majority of the half. Windyhall rang the changes trying to get the advantage Doherty again pulling everything out of his locker to keep them at bay. When Windyhall did get past Doherty it was cleared off the line by an Olympic defender. Olympic managed to hold on and both teams shared the spoils. But it was two points dropped for Windyhall who just couldn’t find the back of the net. Man of the Match: Philip Doherty (Coleraine Olympic)
The Taverners 2 Hazelbank FC 2
Both sides started the match strongly and it proved to be a fairly even encounter. They had spells of possession but failed to capitalise on any of the chances created. It took a sweet strike from O’Boyle from 30 yards to break the deadlock on 13 minutes to put the home team in front. The visitors had a few good chances of their own, most notably from the penalty spot, but Jimmy Smyth’s effort hit the post and the first half finished with the Taverners in front.
The second half started with much of the same, but the visitors got back in the match, when Smyth scored direct from a corner. Like the first half, both sides had their fair share of the play but it once again took a nice strike from O’Boyle on 80 minutes to put Taverners in front. The glory was short lived however, as within a minute Hazelbank levelled it again when a cross from Hemphill found its way into the net at the back post. This was how the match finished and likely was a fair result for both sides. Man of the Match: Brian Alcorn (Hazelbank)