Ballinamallard United captain Richard Clarke pictured with Alyn Spratt of Bluefin Sport

BLUEFIN SPORT CHAMPIONSHIP: MATCHDAY 8 PREVIEW

Another action packed week in the Bluefin Sport Championship sees unbeaten leaders Loughgall continue to lead the promotion chase, we look ahead to all the games.

Ards v Ballyclare Comrades (venue: Bangor Fuels Arena; kick-off: 3pm)

Ards manager Warren Feeney had the benefit of a five-goal midweek victory over Queens University to get over the disappointing defeat to Dergview in the league last Saturday, which now leaves the County Down side in fifth place in the Bluefin Sport Championship, seven points behind the league leaders.

It’s been back-to-back defeats for new Comrades boss Paul Harbinson in his two games in charge as the club’s sequence of losses now stretches to five consecutive games with the club now hover above the relegation places only on goal difference. Ballyclare were defeated 3-1 by Glentoran in the first round of the County Antrim Shield on Tuesday.

Dundela v HW Welders (venue: Wilgar Park; kick-off: 3pm)

There’s an important Championship derby in East Belfast as the Duns host the Welders at Wilgar Park. Home boss Bryan McCarroll will be encouraged by his team’s showing in midweek, despite the disappointment of bowing out of the Shield to a last minute goal at the Ballymena Showgrounds. That made it two defeats in a matter of days for Dundela, who dropped down to third place on Saturday following reverse to Portadown in the league.

The Welders caused the only upset in the County Antrim Shield as they overcame Premiership outfit Carrick Rangers to progress to the quarter-finals. It’s been a rare highlight in a disappointing season to date for Colin McIlwaine’s men – they dropped into the bottom two after failing to defeat basement side Knockbreda last Saturday but know a win could take them as far up the table as the top six tomorrow.

Loughgall v Ballinamallard United (venue: Lakeview Park; kick-off: 3pm)

Both Loughgall and Ballinamallard progressed in their respective regional cup competitions on Tuesday night but go again on Saturday. Championship leaders Loughgall have enjoyed a fine start to the season under manager Dean Smith and are currently the only unbeaten side left in the division after winning 4-0 against Queens University last time out.

The Mallards’ four match unbeaten run in the Championship came to an end last Saturday with a 1-0 defeat to Newry last Saturday. That result leaves Harry McConkey’s men in fourth place, but now seven points away from the leaders – as the Fermanagh men also progressed to the next stage of the North West Cup this week with a narrow win over Newbuildings.

Newry City v Dergview (venue: Newry Showgrounds; kick-off: 3pm)

There’s a community fun day at the Newry Showgrounds ahead of City’s home game against Dergview on Saturday. Darren Mullen’s side overcame Moneyslane on penalties in the Mid-Ulster Cup during the midweek, adding to their last minute winner against Ballinamallard United in the last league outing. Ultan Lennon is suspended for Newry for this game

Ivan Sproule will be hoping that Dergview’s season has finally kicked into action this week following two impressive victories. It started last weekend at home to promotional hopefuls Ards and continued onto Tuesday night with a six thrashing of Tobermore United in the North West Senior Cup.

Portadown v Queens University (venue: Shamrock Park; kick-off: 3pm)

Matthew Tipton has seemingly got the Ports purring after a shaky start in the league with four consecutive wins that has taken the Shamrock Park side into second in the table, following their 2-0 win against Dundela. Liam McKenna will be unavailable for Portadown after his first half red card in the Mid-Ulster Cup defeat to Annagh United but Callum Ferris returns after featuring for the Northern Ireland Under-21’s in Finland this week.

Queens University must pick themselves up from a 4-0 defeat to Ards in the County Antrim Shield on Tuesday but will be conscious that losing to Portadown could potentially be their fourth loss in a row. Following a steady start, Peter Thompson’s students start the weekend in sixth place after three games from their opening seven games in their first season in senior football.

PSNI v Knockbreda (venue: The Dub; kick-off: 3pm)

What a turnaround it has been for Sammy McFadden and his PSNI squad in the last few weeks. Almost written off after the first four league games and without a point – the South Belfast club have won their last three league games in a row to move safely away from the drop zone, they come into this clash off the back of a 3-0 defeat to Larne in the Shield on Tuesday.

Knockbreda make the short trip for this all Belfast encounter needing to start picking up points to avoid getting cut adrift at the bottom of the table. The gap is currently two points to next placed HW Welders, after Lee Forsythe’s side surrendered the lead twice last Saturday against the Welders at home – ‘Breda followed that result up with a 4-0 defeat to Cliftonville at Solitude in the County Antrim Shield.