Dundela's Jordan Hughes pictured with Alyn Spratt of Bluefin Sport
Friday, 23 August 2019
There’s a top of the table clash at Lakeview Park in the Bluefin Sport Championship this weekend, we look ahead to all the action in our gameweek preview.
Ballinamallard United v Ballyclare Comrades (venue: Ferney Park; kick-off: 3pm)
Harry McConkey’s Mallards have bounced back from two defeats in their opening games to claim four points from their last two games against two of the promotion hopefuls in Portadown and Ards. The Fermanagh men left it late against Ards last week though, with Chris Kelly heading home the equaliser in stoppage time – they start the weekend in tenth place in the Championship table.
It’s been an impressive start to the campaign for fourth placed Ballyclare Comrades, but they will be dealt a blow in losing winger Kyle Beggs to Glenavon this week – having joined from Moyola Park only this summer, Beggs had scored five goals for Stephen Hughes’ side this term. Comrades games have been excellent value for money this season with a number of high scoring encounters, however they go into this game following the 1-1 draw with Dergview last Saturday at Darragh Park.
Knockbreda v Ards (venue: Breda Park; kick-off: 3pm)
It’s been a reality check for Knockbreda manager Lee Forsythe since their opening day win over Ballinamallard United at the start of the month, the East Belfast club have now lost their last four games in succession in all competitions, including a disappointing 5-0 hammering at home to Portadown last Saturday. With an entirely new look squad at Breda Park, it may take time to settle but they will be without experienced defender Phillip Simpson who moved to Lisburn Rangers in midweek.
Ards manager Warren Feeney rolled back the years on Saturday past, as the former Northern Ireland international donned the boots in for a surprise debut from the bench for his side against Ballinamallard United. The County Down men looked set for all three points on their travels but for a late equaliser, without a win in the Championship since 6 August, Ards must get back to winning ways against Knockbreda to ensure they don’t lose sight of the promotion pack.
Loughgall v Dundela (venue: Lakeview Park; kick-off: 3pm)
It’s an early season top of the table clash at Lakeview Park as first meets second with the division’s last two unbeaten records on the line. Second placed Loughgall are on a decent run under Dean Smith, and could make it five wins in a row in all competitions with a win against Dundela. They have the Bluefin Sport Championship’s leading marksman in Nathaniel Ferris on form, he has scored six goals including a brace in their last game against PSNI on Saturday past. Marcus Dallas is suspended for this game.
Dundela lead the table on goal difference and like last season have started the season in blistering form. Early season wins against Dergview, Knockbreda and PSNI have boosted the confidence of Bryan McCarroll’s side but their 100% record ended last Saturday in the 1-1 draw with Newry City. The last time the two sides met in December 2018, it was the Wilgar Park side who came out on top, winning 2-1.
Newry City v PSNI (venue: Newry Showgrounds; kick-off: 3pm)
Darren Mullen’s Newry City continue to find their feet back in the Bluefin Sport Championship after relegation from the Premiership last season. The promotion hopefuls have only won one of their opening four games in the second tier and drew 1-1 with league leaders Dundela last Saturday. The border club will be hoping to get back to winning ways at home this Saturday.
It’s been a hugely difficult start for Sammy McFadden and his PSNI side this season – as four defeats from four league games this season leaves them rooted to the bottom of the table with another tough game in prospect on Saturday. The South Belfast club lost 4-1 to Loughgall last Saturday and they won’t take any confidence from the last meeting between the sides back in December 2017 when Newry City won this fixture 3-0.
Portadown v HW Welders (venue: Shamrock Park; kick-off: 3pm)
The Ports currently sit third in the Bluefin Sport Championship but will need to find more consistency if manager Matthew Tipton is to lead his club back to the Danske Bank Premiership. Adam Salley bagged a hat-trick in last weekend’s 5-0 win over Knockbreda, as the Shamrock Park side bounced back from defeat against the Mallards the following week.
Another team struggling for consistency is HW Welders with two wins and two defeats so far in the second tier. Manager Colin McIlwaine will be looking to build on their 2-1 win over Queens University last weekend at Tillysburn but will have to face the Ports without influential duo Lukasz Gwiazda and Dylan Davidson through suspension.
Queens University v Dergview (venue: The Dub; kick-off: 3pm)
The final game of the day is at The Dub as newly promoted Queens University look to continue to their steady start to senior football with a home clash against Dergview. Peter Thompson’s Students currently occupy sixth place in the table following early season wins against Knockbreda and PSNI as they adapt to life in the division, they were narrowly defeated 2-1 by HW Welders in last Saturday’s fixture.
Ivan Sproule’s men make the long journey from Castlederg looking for their first points on their travels this season. They start the afternoon in ninth place after a draw in their previous outing last Saturday against Ballyclare Comrades, with a late Marc McConnell equaliser enough to secure a point at Darragh Park.