Action from Ballinamallard United v Ballyclare Comrades earlier this season (c) Mervyn Smyth / Ballinamallard United


There's all to play for in the Bluefin Sport Championship this Saturday as we enter the second phase of fixtures between the clubs, we look ahead to all the action in our preview.

Ballyclare Comrades v Ballinamallard United (venue: Dixon Park; kick-off: 3pm)

Paul Harbinson’s Comrades picked up a valuable point on their travels last Saturday against Dundela, the scoreless draw was the first point the East Antrim club has picked up against any of the teams in the top half of the table. Ballyclare Comrades start the gameweek in ninth place, now a full six points away from the foot of the table, but go into this game without leading scorer Joe Tully, who is suspended.

Third placed Ballinamallard United kept up their promotion push with an impressive 4-0 win against PSNI in Belfast last weekend, they are again on their travels tomorrow as they aim to close the four point gap between themselves and the league leaders. The PSNI victory was the fourth league victory in succession for the Fermanagh club as they eye up a place back in the Danske Bank Premiership.

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

Ivan Sproule will be aiming to see his Dergview side finally break into the top half of the table after their slow start to the Championship season, they became the latest side to pick up three points against bottom club Knockbreda last Saturday. Goals from Damien McNulty, Gareth Doherty and Alan Buchanan set the Castlederg men on their way to a 3-1 victory, their first win in three league outings.

Second placed Loughgall capitalised on Portadown’s dropped points last weekend to move back within two points of the league leaders. The Villagers produced a ruthless 4-1 win over HW Welders at Lakeview Park with the league’s leading scorer Nathaniel Ferris taking his tally to the season to nine goals. Marcio Soares is still suspended for the visitors this Saturday.

HW Welders v Portadown (venue: Tillysburn Park; kick-off: 3pm)

The Welders’ season still hasn’t found a gear as they currently still remain in the relegation playoff place and have the daunting task of welcoming the league leaders to Tillysburn Park this weekend. Colin McIlwaine and George O’Boyle’s latest defeat came against Loughgall last Saturday against Loughgall. The home side will once again be without the suspended midfielder Ryan Deans for this game.

Matthew Tipton’s six game winning streak that has taken them to the top of the table came to an end with a scoreless draw against Newry City last Friday evening which has reduced the lead at the top of the Bluefin Sport Championship to just two points. The Ports have already defeated HW Welders this season, 2-0 at Shamrock Park in August, but go into this clash without the suspended Christopher Crane.

Knockbreda v PSNI (venue: Breda Park; kick-off: 3pm)

A fourth defeat on the bounce for Lee Forsythe’s Knockbreda leaves the club still four points adrift at the foot of the Championship table after the first phase of fixtures. The East Belfast outfit lost 3-1 on the road to Dergview and have only picked up one win from their opening eleven games, having now played all the teams in the division. They will be without defender Fra Rice through suspension for this game.

There’s been a recent dip in form for PSNI as they have gone three games without a win after soaring up the table in late August and early September. Their last victory was the 3-2 win over Knockbreda at the Dub in September but come into this all Belfast clash having been turned over by four goals without reply by Ballinamallard United at their temporary home last Saturday.

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

A well earned point at Shamrock Park last Friday showed that Newry City are capable of competing with the other promotion chasing clubs this season, but must find some consistency if they themselves want to be in promotion contention. This itself was a Premiership fixture last season and it was Darren Mullen’s team who came out in top in the earlier meeting this season in August, winning 3-0 thanks to goals from Mark Hughes, Lee Duffy and Adam Foley.

Ards are starting to find a bit of momentum under Niall Currie as the 3-2 victory over Queens University last week keeps the County Down within four points of the promotion playoff places as they look to bounce back to the Danske Bank Premiership at the first attempt. Captain Johnny Taylor serves the final match of his suspension for the trip to Newry City.

Queens University v Dundela (venue: The Dub; kick-off: 3pm)

The struggle of life in senior football for Queens University continues with another defeat last week that continues to keep the Students perilously close the relegation zone. The 3-2 defeat to Ards at the Bangor Fuel Arena was the sixth straight league defeat to Peter Thompson’s young side who have also already tasted defeat to their opponents for this week, back in August.

Dundela were the big headline makers this week as they caused a huge cup upset by defeating Premiership Larne in the third round of the BetMcLean League Cup at Inver Park. Currently fourth in the Championship standings, manager Bryan McCarroll has urged his players to push on for promotion this season, the Duns drew 0-0 with Ballyclare Comrades in their last league outing and have scored the joint fewest goals of any team in the top half of the division.