Four teams now sit within two points at the top of the Hutchinson Tiles Winter League although Portrush Old Boys and Glebe Rangers Old Boys hold the advantage having more games in hand than the others.
West Bann Athletic, Portrush Old Boys and Glebe Rangers Old Boys all recorded wins while Berthas could only take a point in their game.
Dunaghy Old Boys kept up their good form with a big win away to Ballyrashane while Finn McCools scored six in their win over Coleraine Olympic.
FC Windyhall 1
West Bann Athletic 3
West Bann Athletic defeated a spirited FC Windyhall team 3-1 to keep their slim title hopes alive.
First half strikes from Mark McLelland and a worldy of a strike by Macky McCandless, both assisted by Lee Nevin gave Athletic a 2-0 half time lead. Windyhall’s only chance of note in the first half fell to Stephen Donnell who went close from distance with the scores level however his strike came off the woodwork to safety.
Athletic, two goals to the good sensed, there were more goals and went close on several occasions in the opening 15 minutes of the second period with Davy Caldwell the focal point setting up at least four clear cut chances however Athletic failed to capitalise and kill the game off.
Windyhall punished Athletic’s inability to take there chances and got themselves back into the game with a well worked move on the break started by man of the match Harry Clifton who found Stephen Donnell on the right, his cross found Gareth Mullan who made no mistake.
Athletic had to wait until the last five minutes to score the all-important next goal of the game and seal all three points with Lee Nevin getting his reward for his efforts scoring direct from a free kick 25 yards out to make it 3-1 to the visitors and top of the league with five league games remaining. Man of the Match: Harry Clifton (FC Windyhall)
Glebe Rangers Old Boys 3 The Villagers 1
With Megaw Park currently out of circulation Glebe Rangers Old Boys returned to the Joey Dunlop Centre for this home league encounter against Villagers.
With a number of regulars absent, the two resident Lord Lucans, Ivan Elder and ‘Midget’ Patterson returned to the fold and both played an important part in securing three points for the Old Boys. In a game badly affected by hurricane type conditions it was the visitors who took the lead when the lively Lee Wilson broke through and slotted past Allen.
Glebe equalised when Les Nicholl broke on the right and shot past Best from the edge of the box. Right from the kick-off Steele and Fraser pressurised the Villager’s defence and when the ball broke to Steele, his shot deceived Best to give the Old Boys a lead which they maintained to the interval.
With the wind advantage in the second half Glebe sought to increase their lead but were unable to do so with Best’s fine save from Fraser’s header a highlight of the visitors’ defiance. Villagers did threaten despite playing against the wind but suffered a blow when Wilson received a second yellow for dissent.
Patterson and Elder then entered the fray and took centre stage when a typical piece of composure from Patterson found Elder just inside the box. The striker took a touch before unleashing a drive past Best to seal the points for the Old Boys. Man of the Match: Billy McCurdy (Glebe Rangers Old Boys)
Portrush Old Boys 6
The Taverners 0
Portrush entrertained Taverners at a blustery Rugby Avenue on Saturday hoping to maintain their challenge for the league and found the opposition hard to break down.
The first twenty minutes were scrappy with both teams cancelling out each other. However, the game changed when Wills broke down the left and crossed only to see his effort blocked for a corner. The resulting corner kick from McAllister was met by Doherty to open the scoring for Portrush. The goal settled the home side and they started to push the ball about but couldn’t break down a stubborn Taverners defence and the half time whistle blew with Portrush having a slender lead.
Portrush started the second half in the same vain as they finished the first and extended their lead when Mitchell drove down the right to cross for Shirlow to score from close range. Portrush made a number of changes and these paid further dividend when McClelland found Wills who crossed for Parsons to score high into the net.
Parsons added to his tally when Mitchell laid the ball into his path to strike, and with a slight deflection, the ball ended up in the back of the net to give Portrush a healthy lead.
Portrush were now well on top and their fifth of the game came courtesy of a penalty kick, Lafferty crossed for Mitchell who was fouled by the Taverners defender and Parsons stepped up to claim his third of the day.
Portrush completed their scoring when Shirlow, who had an outstanding performance matched only by K Wills, weaved his way past a number of defenders only for the keeper to save but McClelland was on hand to convert from close range. Man of the Match: Keith Wills (Portrush OB)
Berthas FC 2
Hazelbank FC 2
On a ridiculously windy day in Castlerock, the away team won the toss and chose to play with the wind.
Predictably they enjoyed most of the possession but the wind was making it tough to play decent football. Berthas defending was outstanding with Hoey and Davy Campbell excellent in the heart of the defence with McGarvey and McLaughlin working their socks off in the midfield.
It was the home team that went into the break leading against the run of play when a great one touch move involving McGarvey, Stewart and Lindsay Campbell put McLaughlin through and he slipped it past McClarty.
The second half started with Berthas on the front foot and they quickly increased their lead when McGarvey put in Stewart and he got the last touch to divert past McClarty.
Berthas looked content on seeing the game out, thinking with the wind it would be difficult for Hazelbank to come back but the away side had other idea’s and pulled one back from the spot, Colin McClarty hammering home.
This got their tales up and they equalised when Wilson broke down the left and squared for McClarty to tap home. Berthas nearly regained their lead when McGarveys shot brought out a top save from McClarty.
Hazelbank prob should have won with moments to go when Colin McClarty snatched at his shot and put wide. Both teams actually played better against the wind with a draw a fair result. Man of the Match: Darren McGarvey (Berthas FC)
Ballyrashane FC 1
Dunaghy Old Boys 6
Ballyrashane started of brightly but without creating to many chances.
This cost them on 10 minutes when Robinson tucked away a low drive into the bottom corner. Danny Graham followed up shortly with a deep cross which the keeper failed to stop from crossing the line for Dunaghy’s second. Joe Patton scored a 20-yard cracker into the roof of the net to make it 3-0, which was the cause of some celebrating as it is the first time Graham and Patton scored in the same game since the 1950s!
The second half continued in the same vein as a five man move was finished of by ‘Chin’ Blair with his shot going under the keeper.
Ballyrashane pulled one back on the hour mark when Mark Blair put past his own keeper from outside the box with a pass back. ‘Chin’ got his second on 75 minutes when he turned a defender and his fierce drive ripped into the net.
‘Robo’ finished of the scoring when he tucked away a header at the far post to wrap up the three points. Man of the Match: Ricky Blair (Dunaghy OB)
Finn McCools 6
Coleraine Olympic 1
Finns started the stronger of the two teams playing with the advantage of a very strong wind in the first half.
The wind played a strong part in the first goal for Finns as Adair floated in a cross to the back post that went straight over the head of the Olympic keeper. Minutes later Finns went two up as calm play by Dobbin in the box squared the ball to Callaghan who had a tap in from two yards. The half ended with a great pass from McAfee out of defence to Dobbin who turned the defender and slide the ball to Parke who on the second attempt finished well.
Into the second half with Olympic pushing forward with the wind behind them, a defensive mistake from Finns let the Olympic attacker in on goal who calmly finished from ten yards.
Finns then hit on the break with a perfect pass from McAfee to Moore who slotted home at the near post past the oncoming keeper. With twenty minutes to go, the ball broke in the box for Dobbin to side foot past the keeper to make it five one.
Into the last five minutes and Finns made it six one as a good ball from the midfield put in Moore again for his second, as he finished well from 8 yards. Man of the Match: Peter McAfee (Finn McCools)