Berthas FC moved top of the Hutchinson Tiles Winter League table following the latest round of fixtures last Saturday.
Their win in a high scoring game against Balnamore coupled with West Bann Athletics defeat away to Ballymoney meant they moved one point clear at the top ahead of Glebe Rangers Old Boys, who have played one game less after they beat Finn McCools away in Bushmills.
Portrush Old Boys got going again after a couple of defeats with victory over FC Windyhall while Dunaghy Old Boys took the points at away to Ballyrashane. In the remaining games, Hazelbank took a big win against Coleraine Olympic but The Villagers battled hard to gain 3 points away to Millburn FC.
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Berthas FC 7
Balnamore FC 5
It was a tight opening 15 minutes in this game with chances at a premium but when the home team did get a chance, they took the lead.
Lee Biggart flicked on MacAulay’s long ball with Willie Stewart running on to fire past Elder in the Balnamore goal. Berthas soon grabbed a second as Biggart drilled the ball home from McLaughlin’s cross.
Balnamore composed themselves and pulled one back when Lee Kelly cracked home a free kick. In the second half it took Berthas five minutes to increase their lead when Stewart tapped home Blackwood’s cut back.
They soon made it four and then five with similar goals, Biggart first when he lobbed Elder after running through and Stewart did the same, grabbing his hat trick and incredibly his fifth hat trick in five games.
Balnamore looked defeated and emptied the bench with 20 minutes to go and what a 20 minutes it turned out to be. They pulled a goal back when the home team snoozed at the back, Brent Watton collected to smash home. They then pulled another back when Willie Corr was upended in the box after a mazy run, the same player scoring from the spot. Berthas grabbed their sixth with Biggart getting his hat-trick. Straight up the other end and Balnamore pulled another back when Corr was brought down by Berthas keeper Kane, the keeper saw red and it was Kelly to banged in from the spot this time.
It was 6-4 at this stage and Balnamore on the front foot but it was Berthas who grabbed a seventh, Biggart getting his fourth when he shot home from Stewarts cut back. At this stage Berthas looked to see the game out but quick thinking from a free kick saw Toby McLaughlin run in to score.
That was the end of the scoring with Berthas eventually taking the points, a lot less comfortably that it should have been. Man of the Match: Lee Biggart (Berthas FC)
Finn McCools 0
Glebe Rangers Old Boys 3
With the squad stretched due to injuries Davy-John McBride was forced to don the gloves and the old stager responded with an assured display.
In unseasonal conditions the Old Boys had the best chances of the first period. Davy Campbell, once again impressing on the left flank, saw a long range drive flash just past whilst Bellingham’s header just on half-time rebounded off the woodwork, however no-one was able to capitalise on the rebound.
The best moment of the half saw Nicholl meet Campbell’s cross but his well-placed header was kept out by a sensational save from home custodian Dave McKendry.
Finns threatened on a couple of occasions late in the half and it took McBride’s alertness off his line to deny them both times. Glebe made the breakthrough after 58 minutes when Les Nicholl nodded in Bellingham’s flick after a Campbell free-kick.
With Finns pressing for an equaliser man of the match Mervyn Greer seized on a loose ball to lob McKendry and add to his impressive scoring record.
McBride again showed his speed off the line to deny Finns yet again before Stephen Elder the younger celebrated his return to the fold with a fine goal. Good work by Nicholl set up Elder who provided a sublime finish from 20 yards to end the scoring and give the Old Boys the 3 points. Man of the Match: Mervyn Greer (Glebe Rangers Old Boys)
Ballymoney Ol Old Boys 4 West Bann Athletic 3
A hotly contested game in which a much improved Olympic team took the points and a few stand out performances from captain Richard McNabb and Rodney Culbertson.
Olympic took the lead when Andy Shepherd got on the end of a cross. West Bann hit back ten minutes later when Nevin beat the keeper from 40 yards with a powerful drive,
West Bann edged in front thanks to a controversial own goal. They added a third as the home keeper misjudged the bounce aloowing the striker to score.
Olympic rallied though and Warren Blair crossed for Culbertson to score. They pulled level as Shepherd coolly slotted home when one-on-one with the keeper.
They grabbed what turned out to be the winner soon after as Culbertson got on the end of another cross.
Remarkably there were no more goals in the second half as Olympic picked up an impressive win.
Man of the Match: Richard McNabb (Ballymoney Olympic Old Boys)
Portrush Old Boys 5
FC Windyhall 2
Portrush Old Boys entertained FC Windyhall on a sunny morning at Rugby Avenue and soon found themselves behind when McVey scored from distance to beat McCullough in nets with the Ports keeper colliding with the post and subsequently having to leave the field of play.
FC Windyhall extended their lead on the 22nd minute when Nicholl flicked the ball on from a long kick out from the keeper and Sweeney slipped inside the full-back to cleverly lob the advancing keeper.
This was the catalyst for the Portrush side who had started poorly and after some neat play in midfield, Newton dispatched a great effort into the roof of the net in the 25th minute to get the home side back in the game.
Portrus started to use the ball and Shirlow equalised in the 29th minute with another fine finish. Portrush took the lead in the 42nd minute when Martin swung a corner in from the left for Taggart to rise highest and head into the net.
Portrush having started poorly were much more composed in the second half and used the space well playing some neat football. They extended their lead further in the 72nd minute when Calvin got his name on the score sheet.
Both sides had half chances to score but Shirlow completed the scoring for Portrush when he scored a great individual goal to make the final score 5-2. Man of the Match: Aidy Calvin (Portrush Old Boys)
Hazelbank FC 11
Coleraine Olympic 1
Hazelbank hit the goal trail on Saturday as they hit double figures against Coleraine Olympic.
The home side started game off strongly and edged in front early on as Colin McClarty headed home. Two own goals put Hazelbank in control before James Tosh and McClarty made it five.
Kyle Gregg pulled one back for the visitors before the break. Hazelbank dominated the second half running in six more goals thanks to David Warwick (2) and McClarty, who added four more. Man of the Match: Colin McClarty & Ciaran Wilson (Hazelbank)
Ballyrashane FC 1
Dunaghy Old Boys 4
Dunaghy OB started well and took the lead on 22 minutes as Ryan McNeill burried a header.
Ballyrashane came more into the game but the score remained the same until the break.
Just after the restart Gray missed a great opportunity to level the scores and it proved costly as Dunaghy grabbed a second.
Ricky Blair released Paul Robinson who tucked it home from 15 yards.
Gray pulled a goal back on 84 minutes before Bartlett, who came off the subs bench a little earlier, took control with two strikes in two min to wrap up all three points. Man of the Match: Trevor Bartlett (Dunaghy Old Boys)
Millburn FC 3
The Villagers 4
The Villagers were after their first win of the season and Millburn wanted to continue their great start.
The first half it was scrappy with half chances falling at either end. On 28 minutes though it was 1-0 Millburn with a tremendous powerfully struck free kick going in off the post from Boreland.
The Villagers had more troubles when Robinson was deservedly sent off.
The visitors levelled on 55 minutes. Parke cleared off the line and Wesley Calvin produced a defence splitting pass to set Dunn clear to tee up Walton to tap home.
McDonald fired Millburn back in front again on 66 minutes, however The Villagers felt the goal shouldn’t have stood as a player in an offside position was obstructing the keeper’s view.
The Villagers drew level for a second time as Matthew Maguire finished Dunn’s pass.
Supersub and Man of the Match Calvin made it 3-2, with a free kick of beauty, his 30 yard strike swerved all over the place, eventually resting in the top left hand corner.
Ally Law made it 3-3 with six minutes to go but the scoring wasn’t finished just yet.
Late in the day Dunn played a pass to Wilson and the defender blatantly pushed him stonewall pen, and Maguire kept his cool to make it 4-3 to The Villagers.
Man of the Match: Wesley Calvin (The Villagers)