This coming Saturday sees the First Round of the Challenge Shield take place, with the competition reverting back to its original pre-Christmas slot.
Last year’s winners Glebe Rangers Old Boys face a difficult home tie against FC Macosquin while last year’s beaten finalists Mountview also face a tough opener at home to Berthas FC, however both teams will be expected to find their name in the hat for the next round. Other notable ties see an all Ballymoney affair between Dunaghy Old Boys and The Taverners while in-form The Villagers are at home to Balnamore.
In last Saturday’s league action, Glebe Rangers, Hillview and Mountview kept up their 100% starts to the season with victories against Hazelbank, Finn McCools and Brook Street respectively. FC Macosquin took the points more comfortably than expected against West Bann Athletic while Dunaghy hammered ten unanswered goals past Coleraine Olympic. In the remaining games, The Villagers easily saw off The Taverners while Ballyrashane beat Windyhall by the odd goal in nine!
Glebe Rangers Old Boys 5 Hazelbank FC 3
Perennial rivals Glebe Rangers Old Boys and Hazelbank met at the Joey Dunlop Centre on Saturday morning and, as ever, served up an entertaining, hard-fought encounter. Rab McCombe resumed goalkeeping duties for the Old Boys whilst Alan McBride, Jason Wilmont and Paul Holmes made welcome returns.
Indeed Wilmont was to the fore as he turned in a man of the match display crowned by a match-winning hat-trick. The Old Boys started strongly, playing their best football of the season in the first half-hour, although the visitors missed a good opportunity when McFadden blazed over. However Ryan Maddison, continuing his recent good form, opened the scoring with a powerful header from a pin-point Nicholl cross.
Within four minutes Wilmont doubled the lead shooting home from just outside the box and after twenty-seven minutes the same player made it 3-0 as he drove past Crawford when the away defence failed to clear a corner.
Madison also hit the bar as the Old Boys continued to press but the pattern of the game changed after twenty-nine minutes when Wilson capitalised on a defensive slip to score a fine solo goal. Hazelbank, buoyed by this reduction in the deficit, went on the offensive and were rewarded by a Sheppard goal right on half-time to leave the Old Boys three-two up at the interval.
Hazelbank continued to press at the start of the second half but were unable to find an equaliser as the Old Boys stood firm with McCombe a calming influence. In fact it was the Glebe who scored again when a long ball by McCurdy found Elder in the clear, and he produced a stunning finish past giving Crawford no chance.
Back came the visitors and the impressive Alan Millar ghosted in at the back post to pull one back with a neat finish. By this stage the game was extremely stretched and both teams had chances to score again. However it was left to Wilmont to have the last word when Elder produced the ideal cross for him to head past Crawford, again left powerless, and seal the points for Glebe. Man of the Match: Jason Wilmont (Glebe Rangers Old Boys)
Hillview FC 4 Finn McCools 1
Hillview took an early lead in this game. Black’s low drive into the box was expertly turned in with a flick by Close at the front post. Hillview were moving the ball freely and the majority of the first half was played in the Finn’s half. The home side almost doubled the lead on the half hour. Close found himself one on one with the keeper, but his low drive was well stopped by the keeper.
Hillview had to wait until the first minute of the second half for their next goal. Nevin converting from the penalty spot after Close was scythed down in the box. Finn McCool’s brought themselves back into the game with 25 minutes to go. Adair picked up the ball on their left wing and curled the ball over McDowell and into the far side of the net.
The home side were a bit more disjointed in the second half, but McCrellis gave them their two goal cushion soon after. Evangelista’s pin point ball was well controlled by the winger and his second touch drove the ball into the roof of the net. With the game drawing to a close, Hillview picked up their fourth. A long drive from Nevin was delicately flicked by McClelland’s heal. With the keeper already committed to the initial shot, he had no chance to recover and the ball found its way to the bottom left corner of the goal. Man of the Match: Ryan Sweeney (Hillview)
Brook Street 1 Mountview FC 7
Brook Street entertained Mountview at the Crescent and the visitors got off to a great start. After only two minutes of play, good work down the right hand side involving Lafferty, Taggart and Martin resulted in Willis firing home from distance. Mountview settled into the game retaining the ball and added a second in the 16th minute when Frazer converted after excellent work from Martin.
Willis added his second off the day when his looping cross beat the keeper to leave the half time score 3-0. The second half started with Mountview on top again and after five minutes they extended their lead when McAllister and Calvin linked well for Calvin to slot the ball past the keeper with a well placed shot just inside the post.
Doherty then got his name on the score sheet when he converted after a goal mouth scramble. Brook Street enjoyed their best period of the game, hitting the crossbar twice before Bradley converted. Mountview regrouped and finished the game strong with further goals from Martin and a second for Doherty. Man of the Match: Gareth Kerr (Mountview)
West Bann Athletic 2 FC Macosquin 6
This was a very fiery affair with both teams desperate for the three points. Macosquin had a full strength squad for the first time this season and West Bann were the opposite with a few suspensions. The game was played at a hectic pace with early chances coming at both ends in a thrilling match. It was FC who struck first when big Liam McGuinness fired home from close range after an excellent cross from McGahon.
Young Decy turned from provider to goal scorer after he superbly volleyed home from the edge of the box to give FC a two goal advantage. West Bann as usual never know when to give up and kept plugging away and were rewarded for their efforts when Matthew McCandless headed home a superb effort from a corner.
This gave West Bann some hope but this was short lived as FC again struck this time from Noel Downs to make the score 3-1. After the break it was more of the same with both teams playing attacking football but Macosquin’s efforts were going in and West Banns were not. A piece of magic from Biggart made it four before McGahon added his second with a cool finish.
Ian McClelland decided he wanted a piece of the action and headed the ball into his own net to make it 5-2 before Nigel Bacon added a fine sixth for Macosquin and his first after his comeback. West Bann continued to push forward with their never say die attitude but eventually they ran out of time. A great game of many chances. Man of the Match: Declan McGahon (FC Macosquin)
Coleraine Olympic 0 Dunaghy Old Boys 10
The Old Boys scored in the first min when Patton’s square ball was neatly tucked away by Moore. Olympic tried to contain a free flowing Dunaghy but on 11 minutes Moore made it two with a low shot. Warren Blair made it three a minute later with a low powerful strike. Moore got his hat-trick with a good header from Patton’s corner to complete a crazy four minute goal frenzy.
Robinson then converted a Moore free kick with a good header and Moore made it six with his fourth with a low drive on the stroke of half time. Dunaghy scored within three minutes of the restart when Robinson lashed in a rebound into the top corner after Olympic’s keeper made a great save from I Blair’s header. Olympic never gave in but after a good five-man move Arnie Blair tucked a low shot into the bottom corner on 75 minutes. On 80 minutes Moore broke away and slotted in his fifth and Dunaghys ninth. Robinson then completed his hat-trick with a tap in after some good work by Moore. Man of the Match: Jason Moore (Dunaghy)
The Villagers 5 The Taverners 1
The home side were quite depleted for this game due to Trevor Hutchinson’s wedding and Lee Peden’s stag do, so it was the fringe players and younger boys who got a chance to impress...and boy did they! The home side dominated early on and got their reward when Shirlow never gave up a lost cause a earned himself a tap in and his side a 1-0 lead.
It was 2-0 when Parke scored with a great finish following a Villagers corner. The Taverners were awarded a penalty just before half time, but best saved it and heroically saved the rebound! On 55 minutes the Taverners pulled a goal back when Fleming connected with a cross and headed into the net.
The comeback was short lived though cause a few moments later Macfarlane made it 3-1. The Taverners were awarded another penalty and again missed, justice was done as this was not a penalty. It was 4-1 when Best played a long kick out to Wilson who finished. It was 5-1 when Gary Friel chipped the keeper following a superb pass from Shirlow.
Robert Friel and Lee Wilson shared the man of the match award and Friel was superb despite player through the pain barrier, the gaffer lead by example! Lee Wilson was also great. The so-called rookie players in this team have showed their true worth! Man of the Match: Rab Friel (The Villagers)
Ballyrashane FC 5 FC Windyhall 4
With Ballyrashane struggling with missing players, they knew this was going to be a tough encounter. Both teams started at a fast pace but it was Windyhall who scored first when Neil Ferguson headed the ball home from a corner kick. Windyhall’s John Sweeney then made it 2-0 when he slotted the ball home past Kane to make it. Ballyrashane were denied a penalty when D Freeman was obstructed inside the Windyhall box but the referee gave the free kick inside the box. Windyhall then made it 3-0 when Cochrane scored from a penalty kick.
Ballyrashane pulled one back just before the break when Freeman broke free to beat Newman. Come the second half Ballyrashane finally woke up and started playing, taking the biggest percentage of game play and on 46th minutes James Nesbitt scored from a nice strike. But Windyhall came back in the 58th minute when Sam Laverty scored to make it 2-4.
This was a big kick up the backside that Ballyrashane needed and they came back from nowhere when D Freeman scored on 65 minutes to make it 3-4. He got his hat trick when he scored again on the 70th minute to tie the score line up 4-4. D Freeman grabbed his fourth of the game when he beat Newman once again with a sweet strike to make it 5-4 to the Ballyrashane men. Not long after the ref blew for full time and both teams glad to see it, credit must go to Windyhall, they came out hungry for the points and played some good football. Man of the Match: David Freeman (Ballyrashane)
Challenge Shield 1st Round Fixtures Saturday 29 September
Ballyrashane v Coleraine Olympic Rugby Avenue 2
Brook Street v Hillview FC Crescent 3
Glebe Rangers Old Boys v FC Macosquin Riada 2
Hazelbank v Windyhall FC Rugby Avenue 1
Mountview FC v Bertha’s FC Rugby Avenue 3
Taverners FC v Dunaghy Old Boy’s Fulton Park
Villagers FC v Balnamore FC Castlerock
West Bann Athletic v Finn McCool’s Rugby Avenue 4