BLUEFIN SPORT CHAMPIONSHIP: MATCHDAY 15 PREVIEW

Can anyone stop Larne in the Bluefin Sport Championship? We look ahead to five games this Saturday in the NI Football League’s second tier.

HW Welders v Loughgall (venue: Tillysburn Park; kick-off: 2pm)

Norman Kelly’s Welders halted a run of three consecutive defeats with a home win last Saturday against Dergview, which keeps them in the top half a of tightly contested Bluefin Sport Championship – level on points with Saturday’s opponents.

They welcome a Loughgall side that has burst into form in recent weeks having gone seven games unbeaten and have risen to fourth in the table, having languished in the bottom half of the table since the start of the season. Dean Smith’s side will also look to get some revenge for their 2-0 home defeat to the Welders back in September.

Knockbreda v Ballyclare Comrades (venue: Breda Park; kick-off: 2pm)

Both these teams fell out of the top six last week after defeats. Lee Forsythe’s Knockbreda have been one of the surprise packages of this season’s Championship but back-to-back defeats to Larne and Loughgall mean it’s only one win in five games for the East Belfast side going into this game.

Stephen Hughes’ side stopped their rut of three successive defeats last Saturday following a 3-3 draw with Limavady United but dropped to seventh in the table. This is the first meeting of the two clubs this season with only a single place and a point separating the sides.

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

Colin Malone’s PSNI side will be disappointed having surrendered two points last week against Dundela, having lead 3-1 only to end up with a draw that keeps them in ninth place. Although four points from two of the top three sides in the division in the last fortnight show that PSNI have what it takes to stay in this division come the end of the season.

Darragh McBrien’s double last week against Carrick Rangers was enough to give the Mallards back-to-back wins for the first time this season and finally moved the County Fermanagh side off the bottom of the table. Harry McConkey’s side could potentially move out of the relegation places altogether if results go their way this Saturday.

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

Ballinamallard United’s victory last week sent Ivan Sproule’s Dergview to the bottom of the Bluefin Sport Championship table. The Castlederg side are without a point since the appointment of the former Northern Ireland international and they are in desperate need of points should they aim to stay in the second tier. Sproule’s men were defeated 2-1 by HW Welders last time out.

Carrick Rangers won the corresponding fixture 1-0 earlier in the season thanks to an early Stewart Nixon goal. Niall Currie’s side lost to Ballinamallard last Saturday but still narrowly retain their place in the top half of the standings by a point, but are currently only three points off the playoff places as Rangers aim to bounce back to the Danske Bank Premiership at the first attempt.

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

Another week goes by and another win for Tiernan Lynch’s Larne side as they opened up an eight point gap at the top of the Championship following their impressive 3-0 over Portadown at Shamrock Park. They remain unbeaten after 14 games with 12 wins to their name, including a 3-1 win against Saturday’s opponents

Limavady United last month. Three draws in the last four games have kept Sean Friars’ Roesiders out of the bottom two but they need to start picking up wins to stave off the potential of relegation. Limavady are without a win since mid-September and are currently only a point above Ballinamallard United in tenth.

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