Knockbreda travel to Larne in the Bluefin Sport Championship tomorrow (c) Presseye

BLUEFIN SPORT CHAMPIONSHIP: MATCHDAY 13 PREVIEW

We look ahead to another weekend of key games in the Bluefin Sport Championship with our weekly preview.

Ballinamallard United v HW Welders (venue: Ferney Park; kick-off: 3pm)

Once against Ballinamallard United manager Harry McConkey is forced to pick his players up from another defeat. The Mallards went down by five goals without reply on the road to Portadown last week in what was their ninth league defeat of a miserable campaign. The Fermanagh based side must now start to pick up points having watched the gap open up to five points in the battle to avoid potential back-to-back relegations.

Norman Kelly’s Welders were unfortunate not to become the first club to defeat leaders Larne last week at Tillysburn Park, eventually succumbing to defeat at the hands of the Invermen. The East Belfast outfit currently sit in the top half, but have lost ground on the leading pack that they were part of at the business end of last season – but a win on Saturday could see them move up as high as fourth if results go their way.

Ballyclare Comrades v Carrick Rangers (venue: Dixon Park; kick-off: 3pm)

The Comrades suffered a surprise defeat to Loughgall last weekend in the Bluefin Sport Championship which dented their ambitious of remaining along side the top three in the table and the potential playoff place it brings. They return to Dixon Park for another tasty East Antrim derby against Carrick Rangers – with Stephen Hughes’ side looking to avenge their 2-0 defeat to Rangers back in September.

Stewart Nixon was on target the last time these two met and he bagged a brace last Saturday in Carrick Rangers’ 4-2 win over PSNI. That win took Niall Currie’s side up to seventh after an indifferent spell in October – that result will give Carrick the confidence to push on in the league’s second phase of fixtures.

Dergview v Dundela (venue: Darragh Park; kick-off: 3pm)

Ivan Sproule’s tenure as Dergview manager ended in a 5-3 defeat to Knockbreda last Saturday, which left the County Tyrone club lingering periously above the relegation places in the table. Sproule’s homecoming will be no easy task in a hugely competitive league as they welcome high-flying Dundela to Darragh Park on Saturday afternoon.

Last time the two sides met back in August, it proved to be a tigher game that their respective league positions would suggest, with the Duns narrowly winning 3-2 thanks to two Jordan Hughes goals. The talisman striker took his league total to 17 for the season already last weekend as they drew with Limavady United despite playing much of the game with 10 men. Owain Beggs’ red card will mean he misses this game automatically for Bryan McCarroll’s side.

Larne v Knockbreda (venue: Inver Park; kick-off: 3pm)

Larne showed their mettle last week on the road at HW Welders, coming from behind to secure a 3-2 win, manager Tiernan Lynch praised the impact of young midfielder Liam Hassin as he scored Larne’s second goal en route to victory.

Knockbreda are one of only two sides to have taken points off the formidable Larne this season, as they drew 1-1 on the opening day of the Bluefin Sport Championship season. Lee Forsythe’s men secured a thrilling 5-3 win over Dergview at Breda Park seven days ago to maintain a fine start to the season for the East Belfast club – who currently occupy fifth place in the table.

Limavady United v Loughgall (venue: Limavady Showgrounds; kick-off: 3pm)

Sean Friars will be pleased with his side’s second half fightback to earn a point against second placed Dundela last weekend that takes them within goal difference of climbing out of the bottom two. Limavady United defeated Moyola Park on Tuesday evening to progress to the semi-finals of the North West Cup.

Loughgall backed up their 4-2 win over Ballyclare Comrades with another high scoring victory in the Mid-Ulster Cup as they defeated Gary Hamilton’s Glenavon as they were also in midweek action. The two sides met just over a month ago, with the Villagers claiming the three points thanks to first half goals from Andrew Hoey and Jordan Gibson.

PSNI v Portadown (venue: Newforge Lane; kick-off: 2pm)

The earlier 2pm kick off in the Bluefin Sport Championship sees PSNI welcome Portadown to Newforge Lane. PSNI were undone by an away defeat to Carrick Rangers seven days ago, but have shown decent form in recent weeks that has moved them off the foot of the table into ninth place ahead of Saturday’s game.

The Ports were the only second tier team involved in midweek BetMcLean League Cup action, as they defeated Newry City on penalties to claim a place in the quarter-finals. It has been a good week for Matthew Tipton’s men as their last league outing was a Kevin Braniff inspired 5-0 drubbing of Ballinamallard United at Shamrock Park.

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