And Balnamore pulled off a major shock in the Knockout Shield as they sent league leaders Glebe Rangers Old Boys crashing out. Macosquin Village also advanced into the semi finals with a good victory in their derby game with FC Macosquin.
In the league, Bertha’s bounced back from last week’s defeat with a good win at home to Riverside Athletic while Dunaghy made it 11 straight wins with victory at home to Mountview. Hazelbank and Finn McCool’s shared the points at Rugby Avenue, as did The Taverner’s and The Villagers in a 10-goal thriller in Ballymoney.
In the remaining games there was comfortable wins for Hillview FC, Ballyrashane FC and West Bann Athletic.
Balnamore FC 2 Glebe Rangers Old Boys 1
Fulton Park witnessed a great encounter in the quarter final round of the Knockout Shield.
The home team were up for it after a narrow defeat last week by the same opponents. Balnamore had a lot of the early possession settling well to pass the ball and create openings, but the Glebe defence was strong and hard to penetrate. At the other end Glebe striker Steele was being well marshaled by Tweed and Connor who were immense at the heart of Balnamores defence all day.
As half time approached the home team always looked dangerous on the break, Hogg and Armstrong patrolling the flanks with pace and Hanna holding up well for the runners. A goal was going to open this game up and it was Balnamore who obliged before half time.
Halliday received the ball down the left, floated in a probing cross, and there was Madison who rose high and connected with a powerful header to put Balnamore one up. After the break both teams played quick attacking football, both having chances to score. A goal either way would change things, and it was Balnamore who obliged again, Mooney’s clever pass found Hogg down the right flank, his cross was met by the Josie Kelly who cheekily glanced his header past keeper Allen. At two down Glebe battled hard and kept the pressure on with long spells camped inside the Balnamore half.
The last 20 mins were played at a frantic pace, Bellingham moved up front for Glebe and Madison hit the upright for the hosts, Kelly cleared well off the line from Steele at the other end, and Elder made a brave block to deny Glebe again. Their pressure paid off six minutes before end when McCurdy volleyed in from the right.
Balnamore could have been out of sight by this time but spurned a number of chances to kill the game off as they stretched the Glebe who committed men forward. However as the final whistle blew Balnamore were elated and manager ‘Beetle Blair’ was pleased with his team’s performance. Man of the Match: Joe Connor (Balnamore).
Macosquin Village 4 FC Macosquin 1
Both teams were up for this battle and came out attacking from the off. It was pretty much end to end play until the 30th minute when the ball broke through to Liam McGuinness who slipped it past the oncoming McIntyre in the Macosquin Village nets.
This was the shake up the Village needed as they went close straight from the centre when Gavin Johnston played Darren Stewart through to beat offside trap only to see his shot skim past the post.
The second half started with Macosquin Village pressing for the equaliser and were rewarded with a penalty on 51 minutes when John Doc was up brought down inside the box and Stewart scored from the spot. The Village took the lead three minutes later when Ronnie Riley released Daryl Marshall on the wing to skin his man and cross in for Gavin Johnston to tap in.
FC didn’t give up and should have equalised when McClelland broke through only to scuff his shot wide from inside the box. The Village went further ahead on 72 minutes when another great through ball from Riley released Darren Stewart who cut back to beat his man and slot the ball past the keeper.
With confidence high and Riley commanding the back four Macosquin Village shop and continued to press the FC defence and got their fourth on 88 minutes when again Riley played a precise pass to Chrissy Wade who took it round the keeper and finished to seal a 4-1 victory. Man of the Match: Darren Stewart (Macosquin Village).
Bertha’s FC 4 Riverside Athletic 3
Bertha’s went into this game looking to bounce back from last week’s defeat while Riverside were looking to back up last week’s win after some inconsistent form of late.
It was the home side who had the better of the opening 20 minutes and they took the lead in this period through Davy Graham. The winger beat two men before running through a big hole in the Riverside defence to slot the ball past Mackey. Bertha’s should have scored more but failed to hit the target and when they did, Mackey was equal to their efforts. Riverside slowly came back into the game and they drew level from the spot, Chris Blair smashing the ball into the net giving McCrory no chance.
As time ran out, Caldwell got himself on the end of Laverty’s free kick but his excellent header just went over the bar. It was Riverside who started the brighter in the second half and they took the lead when McCaughan bundled home McCormick’s corner. They soon found themselves two goals clear when Ricky Hanna burst through the Bertha’s back line to fire low and hard past McCrory.
Riverside would have been thinking that the three points were in the bag but this would be the cue for an excellent Bertha’s fight back. They pulled one back when Graham ran onto McManus’ pass to cross to Caldwell and the big man showed good composure to control the ball and find the back of the net with a right footed shot.
They quickly drew level when McAllister worked some magic down the left before finding the feet of Lee Biggart who was making his Bertha’s debut. The wee man controlled before cracking a great effort into the back of the net from 25 yards out.
Bertha’s had the momentum and took the lead when David Patterson ran onto Graham’s cross, his first shot was saved but the midfielder followed up on the rebound to head home. Riverside threw everything forward but Hoey and Campbell were dealing with everything.
Bertha’s should have increased they lead with a couple of breakaways but Caldwell and Graham both narrowly missed. An excellent fight back from the home side, one that pleased their manager immensely. Man of the Match: Davy Graham (Bertha’s FC).
Brook Street 3 Hillview FC 5
A good cross from the right was met by McClelland’s head in the 12th minute to open the score for Hillview.
Their second came shortly after, when McClelland’s corner was volleyed into the roof of the net for a spectacular own goal. Hutchinson scored the goal of the game shortly after. A McClelland corner was cleared and fell to the Hillview captain 25 yards out on the half volley. His shot flew into bottom left half corner.
Hutchinson turned provider for the fourth. His pass split the Brook Street centre halves and was the perfect pace to allow Close to run onto it. The Hillview striker’s shot was saved by McKissock, but Close picked up the rebound and laid the ball of to Black to tap in.
Hillview made it five just before half time. With the Brook Street right back 10 yards deeper than the rest of their back line, Close was able to get break through on goal and slide the ball past the advancing keeper. Hillview were attacking at will in the first half and it was only thanks to some excellent saves from McKissock in the Brook Street goal that the score was only kept to five in the first half.
Brook Street started the second half a lot brighter as Hillview took their foot of the gas. They pull one back with 25 minutes remaining. A long punt from McKissock and Calvin misjudged his header. This enabled McDonald to get one on one with Jones. The striker took his shot first time to score. It wasn’t long before some more questionable defending provided Brook Street with another goal.
After three attempts to clear the ball from a corner, it eventually fell to Smyth who placed the ball in the right side of the goal. With the game drawing to a close, Brook Street picked up their third. A long clearance up field and Harkin appeared offside to all but the referee. With the Hillview defence stopped, he chipped the ball over Jones and into the Hillview goal. Man of the Match: Timmy Close (Hillview).
Dunaghy Old Boys 2 Mountview FC 0
A good hard fought match throughout. Mountview were playing some good football but Dunaghy defence dealt with everything thrown at them.
It was Dunaghy though who took the lead, Patton’s pass finding Blair on edge of box who turned and slipped the ball to Christie who smashed it past the keeper from 12 yards. Both teams cancelled each other out after this and it stayed 1-0 till half time.
Mountview started the second half with plenty of ball without really threatening the Dunaghy goal with Harte a little isolated up front. Dunaghy pressed further up the pitch Keers in particular having a good game in midfield.
Mountview’s keeper pulled of a couple of great saves the first from Small, a low curling shot tipped around the post the second a great reaction save from Robinson.
Dunaghy made the game safe on 75 minutes when Christies miss hit shot was turned into his own goal by Stanfield. This was another good result for Dunaghy beating a very good Mountview side. Man of the Match: Neal Keers (Dunaghy Old Boys).
West Bann Athletic 6 Coleraine Olympic 1
West Bann Athletic ran out comfortable 6-1 winners against an expectant Coleraine Olympic at Rugby Avenue.
Athletic played the majority of the first 45 minutes camped in the Olympic half and found themselves five goals to the good at half time with team captain Michael Olphert and Martin Pancott helping themselves to two goals each and Chris Shirlow making it 5-0 on the stroke of half time.
Athletic started the second half as they finished the first with Lee West finishing well to make it 6-0 and continue his fine goal scoring form of late.
Olympic scored a consolation goal on the hour mark with Dean McNeill scoring his first goal in Olympic colours to make it 6-1 to an impressive West Bann Athletic at full time. Man of the Match: Steven Doherty (West Bann Athletic).
Somerset 1 Ballyrashane FC 5
Ballyrashane started this encounter looking to secure three points and got stuck into the game hard.
Both teams had early chances but couldnt find the back of the net. Ballyrashane made a good run down the left wing with Doey and Simpson linking up well with McLelland brothers and the ball came to Benn Watt to slot away nicely to make it 1-0.
Somerset came back minutes later from a free kick which deflected of the back of their own player to square the game. Ballyrashne’s Aaron McLelland with some fancy footwork made life hard for the Somerset defence, and to round it off he struck a well placed shot in the back of the net. Somerset tried their best but with Morrow and McIntyre in at the back, very little got through them.
In the second half Ballyrashane were hungry for more goals and with brilliant play coming from Deeney and Collins down the right the setting up more dangerous attacks Simpson got his first of the game after being brought down in the box. Minutes later Mark McLelland put preasure on Somerset and found the head of his brother Aaron to put away his second of the game.
Credit has to go to Somerset as they did try to get something back but it wasnt to be when a one on one chance was stopped by Doherty. Just before the end Simpson got his second when Somerset failed to defend well and he drove it from close distance to make it 5-1. Man of the Match: Daniel Simpson (Ballyrashane).
Fixtures for Saturday 19 February
Balnamore v Riverside Athletic Fulton Park
Bertha’s FC v Ballyrashane Castlerock
Coleraine Olympic Villagers FC Rugby Avenue 1
FC Macosquin v Glebe Rangers Old Boys Rugby Avenue 2
Finn McCool’s v Brook Street Bushmills
Hillview FC v Dunaghy Old Boy’s Crescent 3
Macosquin Village v Hazelbank Ballysally 2
Mountview FC v West Bann Athletic Rugby Avenue 3
Taverners FC v Somerset Riada 2