The race for the Hutchinson Tiles Winter League Title was blown wide open following Saturday’s round of latest results.
Portrush Old Boys inflicted leaders Glebe Rangers Old Boys second defeat of the season and put themselves in with a massive chance of winning the title.
Berthas FC moved temporarily top of the league with a routine win over Coleraine Olympic. West Bann Athletic cruised to victory over FC Crusaders while The Taverners and Dunaghy picked up wins over Hazelbank and FC Windyhall respectively.
In the other two games Balnamore beat Finn McCools by the odd goal in five, while The Villagers kept a clean sheet, scoring three in their win over Ballyrashane FC.
The next delegates meeting will be held in the normal venue at 7.30pm on Monday 3rd March. Representatives of all clubs are to attend.
Portrush Old Boys 4
Glebe Rangers Old Boys 1
Portrush have been gathering momentum in recent weeks and welcomed Glebe Old Boys in a keenly awaited encounter to Rugby Avenue.
Early exchanges favoured the home side but some strong defensive duties kept the scores even. That was until some neat build play resulted in Dave Parsons cutting in from the left to shoot from the edge of the area. His powerful effort took a slight touch off a defender before finding the net to open the scoring.
But within a few minutes, Glebe put together their first cutting attack of the game to even the scoring. Gaston pulled deep into space before finding Steel, who crossed into the path of Holmes who finished from close range. The midfield area became the pivotal point from which both sides were pushing for the next goal.
Portrush gained a corner which Doherty drove deep into the box, for Johnny Martin to meet on the volley and fire home. The home team were now on top and were proving a handful. But the half time score ended with Portrush a goal to the good.
The early stages of the second half found Glebe OB having that desire to take the game to the home side. McCullough in goals did well to match a strong header from Gaston, and then from a free kick, Steel touched home an equaliser, only to be ruled offside.
The Glebe OB then lost Bellingham to injury, and soon after Mc Curdy was unfortunate to join him on the injury list. Portrush were finding their way back into the game though and started to impose themselves again.
Ciaran Doherty broke free on the left before sliding a cross to Johnny Martin, who finished with a composed shot to extend the lead for Portrush. Wills and Kerr were pushing from full back at regular intervals providing more danger for the visitors, but it was Ali Newton who broke through the centre before drawing out Kyle in goals, and fired home to put Portrush beyond reach.
The game drew to a conclusion with a strong win in the end for Portrush OB. The Glebe OB will find themselves unfortunate however having team selection affected and injuries during the game hindering their chances. But Portrush will take confidence from this result and hope they can progress further as teams enter an important part of the season. Man of the Match: Ali Newton (Portrush Old Boys)
Berthas FC 8
Coleraine Olympic 2
The away side took the lead in this one after only two minutes when Paul Beatty beat his man before finishing nicely past Elder.
Berthas quickly got on level terms when a lovely chipped pass by Pollock found Hanna at the back post who nearly got it lost in his feet before lashing past Doherty. Berthas took the lead when MacAulay’s corner directly found the back of the net.
Olympic got level when Campbell fired the loose ball into the net. Berthas should have regained the lead on a number of occasions, but poor finishing, heroic defending and top goalkeeping by Doherty kept the scores level at half time.
Berthas got the third not long into the second half when Stewart pounced on the rebound to score. Their fourth and fifth came from two neat finishes by Pollock. Michael McLaughlin lashed home a free kick for number six before Lindsay Campbell scored a belter for number seven.
Willie Stewart rounded off the scoring when he combined with Stewart to score into the bottom corner. Olympic kept at it all game and in Phil Doherty they have one of the top stoppers in the league. Man of the Match: Richard Pollock (Berthas FC)
FC Crusadrers 0
West Bann Athletic 7
Goals from Lee Nevin, Jamie Allen, a double from Greg McAfee and a hat trick from Aaron Mclelland sealed all 3 points in a one sided game at rugby avenue. Man of the Match: David Hunter (WBAFC)
Balnamore FC 3
Finn McCools 2
Balnamore came out of the blocks at a hectic pace in the first half hour, Finns found it hard to cope with the home sides constant threat at goal and dominant possession.
The hard work paid off midway through the half as a move down the right found the head of lee Kelly who nodded the ball down for the oncoming Nicky Tweed who thundered his shot past the stricken Finns keeper.
As half time approached Balnamore must have wondered how it was only 1-0. The commencement of the second half brought a different Finns onto the pitch, within five minutes they were level with a goal from Moore and five minutes later again saw them take the lead from a strike from Boyd as they pushed more bodies forward.
Balnamore kept battling when it seemed the game was turning, Nicky Tweed again obliged with the equalising goal from an acute angle, The game was any ones for the taking at this stage but it was Tweed who completed his hat-trick for Balnamore with a strike from six yards after a goal mouth scramble that secured the points for the home side in what was an entertaining game from both sides. Man of the Match: Nicky Tweed (Balnamore)
FC Windyhall 0
Dunaghy Old Boys 6
Dunaghy entertained Windyhall at the crescent and it was the old boys who had the first chance when Mark Blair jr forced a good save from Newman.
It was Dunaghy doing all the pressing early on and on 25 minutes Mark Blair JR gave the Old Boys the lead after a good move resulted in him looping it over Newman into the far corner. Windyhall defended well hitting on the break but found the Old Boys defence just too hard to break down.
The second half started with both teams looking for that all important breakthrough and on 65 minutes it was the Old Boys who got it when a shot by N Blair was directed into the bottom corner by a side flick from Robinson.
On 70 minutes Robinson made it three when he headed in from close range after some great work by M Blair. ‘Chin’ Blair made it four shortly afterwards with a cracking low drive from the edge of the box.
On 81 minutes Robinson completed his hat-trick when put through but Newman made a great stop with his legs only for ‘Robo’ to tuck away the rebound. On 86 minutes Mark Blair got his second and the Old Boys’ sixth after a superb turn on the bye line by J Docherty fooled two defenders and set up the former for an easy tap in. Man of the Match: Paul Robinson (Dunaghy Old Boys)
Hazelbank FC 1
The Taverners 4
Hazelbank started the stronger but it was the Taverners held strong and got the opener as Mark Boorman headed into his own goal.
The second came after good pressure from Doherty and McKee fired home. Hazelbank got one back through Colin McClarty just before the break.
After the break another own goal by the home team and a good strike by Raymond O’Boyle made it four one. Good defence by the Taverners kept the home team at bay for most of the match report. Man of the Match: Brendan McMullan (The Taverners)
Ballyrashane FC 0
The Villagers 3
The Villagers recorded a comfortable victory against ballyrashane at Rugby Avenue.
The Villagers came close early on with Wilson and Pollock unlucky, but on 17 minutes it was 1-0 when Cutmore hit a low 30 yard shot, which hit the inside of the post and the alert Wilson was there to stab home.
Ballyrashane responded by making Jason Best pull of a good save. On 41 minutes it was 2-0 and what a goal it was, Richard Steele was 40 yards out on the right wing and hit a great shot with the outside of his left foot which curled into the top corner.
In the second half Pollock was unlucky to hit the bar from a tight angle, Maguire had a good effort tipped round the post, Wilson came close and Rab Friel’s shot was somehow saved as the Villagers dominated. Friel did make it 3-0 when he cooly waited on the ball before turning on the edge of the box and finishing well in to the bottom corner. It was a well deserved three points for the visitors. Man of the Match: Cain Cutmore (The Villagers)
Hazelbank FC are holding a fundraising Quiz Night in Coleraine Social Club this Saturday, March 1st at 7.30pm
The cost is £3 per person and there is a maximum of six people per team. There will also be a raffle on the night. Everyone welcome.
LMA League/Ballyrashane Cup
The draw has been made for this year’s LMA League.
Section A: Dunseverick, Finn McCools, Agivey Utd, Joey’s Bar, Bushmills.
Section B: FC Windyhall, Articlave, Hazelbank Old Boys, Millburn, Heights Old Boys.
No junior players regardless of age. The presentation will take place in the Coronation Sports & Social Club on July 19th.
In the Ballyrashane Cup the prize money is £1,000. Two teams have entered so far, Garvagh Wanderers and Manor Thistle. Any teams interested should contact the organisers as soon as possible. Proceeds from both competitions will go to the Help Wee Oliver Walk campaign.