HW Welders' Scott Davidson pictured with Alyn Spratt of Bluefin Sport
Friday, 04 October 2019
Table toppers Portadown have a chance to lay a marker down to their challengers tonight as they kick-off another full weekend of Bluefin Sport Championship action, we look ahead to all the action.
Friday 4 October
Portadown v Newry City (venue: Shamrock Park; kick-off: 7.45pm)
The Championship action kicks off on Friday night at Shamrock Park as the Ports are the first of the promotion hopefuls in action, as they aim to increase their four point lead and set the pace for the chasing pack this weekend. Defender Paddy McNally popped up with a late, late winner against PSNI on the road last week for the Ports’ eighth win in ten league games, but they will go into the weekend with Christopher Crane who starts a three game suspension following his straight red on Saturday.
Darren Mullen’s Newry City side finally hit form at the expense of Ballyclare Comrades at the Showgrounds last Saturday. Two goals apiece for Mark McCabe and Mark Hughes showed some of the form that sent the border club to the Premiership two years ago, but they now have to find some consistent form after an indifferent start to the campaign – they start the weekend in sixth place, eleven points behind their opponents.
Saturday 5 October
Ards v Queens University (venue: Bangor Fuels Arena; kick-off: 3pm)
Warren Feeney is continuing to find out just how tough a division the Bluefin Sport Championship is as his Ards needed an injury time equaliser at home to Dundela last Saturday to salvage a point that keeps the County Down side hanging into the top half of the table in fifth by just two points. Ards are once again without the services of captain Johnny Taylor who continues his suspension following his red card against Loughgall a couple of weeks ago.
Five successive league defeats for Peter Thompson’s Queens University side into relegation trouble as they are now only avoiding the relegation playoff place on goal difference following a 2-0 defeat on the road to Ballinamallard United last Saturday. Following their promotion as Premier Intermediate League champions last season, the students will be keen to spring a surprise on Ards on their own turf.
Dergview v Knockbreda (venue: Darragh Park; kick-off: 3pm)
Ninth placed Dergview welcome Knockbreda to Darragh Park on Saturday and will look for some home comforts having only lost once at home in all competitions this season. Ivan Sproule’s side drew 2-2 with HW Welders last Saturday but did it without goalkeeper Alan Buchanan for the final stages of the game following his red card, he will be unavailable for Saturday’s game through suspension.
Knockbreda’s run without a league win now stretches to nine games as manager Lee Forsythe will be wondering where the three points are going to come from to lift the East Belfast club from the bottom of the table. Jonny Clapham and Fra Rice are also both unavailable for Knockbreda through suspension, the latter was given a straight red card in stoppage time last Saturday.
Dundela v Ballyclare Comrades (venue: Wilgar Park; kick-off: 3pm)
The Duns dropped a place to fourth in the table last Saturday following Michael McLellan’s sickening last minute equaliser at Ards. Owain Beggs is missing through suspension for Bryan McCarroll’s men. The East Belfast club have only picked up one win in all competitions throughout September, they will be aiming to start the new month with three points at home come Saturday.
Ballyclare Comrades’ leaky defence was again on show last Saturday against Newry City, Paul Harbinson’s side have now the worst defensive record in the division after shipping five goals in a result that leaves the Comrades in ninth place but only a single point above the relegation zone.
Loughgall v HW Welders (venue: Lakeview Park; kick-off: 3pm)
Dean Smith’s Loughgall continue to keep on the coat-tails of leaders Portadown but it took a late double strike against bottom side Knockbreda to maintain their good start to the season at Breda Park. Goals from Andrew Hoey and Nathaniel Ferris mean that the Villagers are still in second place, four points behind the Ports. Midfielder Marcio Soares serves the first of a three game suspension having been shown a straight red card against Knockbreda.
The Welders remain in the bottom two following their 2-2 draw with Dergview last week. Ross Arthurs’ late equaliser saved the Tillysburn Park outfit from falling to their sixth defeat in ten league games this season. Colin McIlwaine and George O’Boyle’s resources will be tested with the absence of midfielders Dylan Davidson and Ryan Deans who are suspended for the trip to Lakeview Park.
PSNI v Ballinamallard United (venue: The Dub; kick-off: 3pm)
PSNI boss Sammy McFadden thought his side looked set to gain a valuable point against table toppers Portadown last Saturday but were undone by a late winner. The South Belfast club will aim to bounce back at their temporary home of the Dub against another one of the promotion challengers in Ballinamallard United on Saturday.
The Fermanagh men keep going about their business and have crept up the table in recent weeks and have quickly become the promotion dark horses in this league. Five wins in their last six league outings, including the 2-0 victory over Queens University last Saturday has propelled Harry McConkey’s side into third place in the table – but they must keep collecting points to stay with the front two.