Queens University's Declan Brown pictured with Alyn Spratt of Bluefin Sport (c) Presseye
Thursday, 24 October 2019
It’s too close to call at the top of the Bluefin Sport Championship as we head into gameweek 14 of the season – join us as we look ahead to all Saturday’s action.
Ards v PSNI (venue: Bangor Fuels Arena; kick-off: 3pm)
Last week’s draw with Ballyclare Comrades meant that Warren Feeney’s side dropped further points in the promotion race and now go into tomorrow’s clash with PSNI having only won one game in their last six in all competitions. The early season optimism that flowed after the season opening 4-0 win for Ards in the reverse fixture has now all but disappeared, but there will be hope that there is enough quality in the County Down side to keep with the chasing pack.
PSNI were blitzed by a stunning second half performance by Newry City last Saturday, losing 6-1 and also find themselves struggling for wins. Their fifth league outing without a victory has pushed Sammy McFadden’s men down into tenth place after a promising early spell in the campaign – they sit two points outside of the relegation zone.
Dergview v HW Welders (venue: Darragh Park; kick-off: 3pm)
Dergview and the Welders both come into Saturday’s game off the back of defeats last week. Ivan Sproule’s men left Shamrock Park with nothing after a 2-0 reverse to title chasing Portadown, that result leaves Dergview currently in ninth place in the table. The last time these two sides met - at Tillysburn last month - nothing could separate the sides in a feisty 2-2 draw.
After what had looked like a turn in fortunes for HW Welders in recent weeks, they slipped to another defeat, this time to Ballinamallard United at Ferney Park. Despite leading, the 4-2 defeat means that Colin McIlwaine and George O’Boyle’s men still cannot find a way out of the relegation zone.
Dundela v Knockbreda (venue: Wilgar Park; kick-off: 3pm)
There’s a hugely important all East Belfast derby at Wilgar Park, with both clubs striving for points to keep their seasons alive even at this early stage. Bryan McCarroll’s Dundela have fallen away in recent weeks, dropping to fifth in the table after five league games in a row without a victory, despite their League Cup heroics away to Larne sandwiched between those games. Dundela’s most recent loss came to league leaders Loughgall last Saturday at Wilgar Park.
In the visiting dugout Lee Forysthe continues in vain to look for ‘Breda’s first league victory since the opening day of the Bluefin Sport Championship campaign. Defeat to relegation rivals Queens University last weekend was their ninth to date in the league this season, more than any other club – and currently means Knockbreda are six points adrift of next placed HW Welders, at the bottom of the standings.
Loughgall v Ballyclare Comrades (venue: Lakeview Park; kick-off: 3pm)
Loughgall’s charge towards the Championship title continues with another victory, the latest against Dundela last Saturday – which keeps them a point ahead at the top of the league. There was also another goal for the division’s top marksman Nathaniel Ferris to take him to eleven for the season in the league, although he wasn’t on the scoresheet the last time these two sides men in the 5-4 thriller at Dixon Park in August, when the Villagers came from 4-0 down to win.
Paul Harbinson has since taken the reigns from Stephen Hughes since that night and has finally shored up one of the leakiest defences in the league in recent weeks, they have only conceded one goal in their last three games, picking up four points (the latest at home to Ards) which has moved the East Antrim outfit within four points of the top half of the second tier table.
Newry City v Ballinamallard United (venue: Newry Showgrounds; kick-off: 3pm)
It’s been a memorable week for Darren Mullen and Newry City as their sparkling second half demolision of PSNI was followed up in midweek with a late winner against Premiership side Glenavon to take them to the quarter-finals of the BetMcLean League Cup. The division’s joint top scorers have hit form that sees them occupy fourth place – as they remain undefeated in their last five league outings, scoring 19 goals in the process!
The Mallards still remain on the coat-tails of the leading duo, sitting just four points off the pace in third place in the Championship. Harry McConkey’s men defeated HW Welders comfortably, 4-2, on Saturday going into this important top half clash at the Newry Showgrounds. It was Newry City though that edged the earlier meeting this season between these two sides, Stephen McCavitt’s late goal the difference, in a narrow 1-0 victory.
Queens University v Portadown (venue: The Dub; kick-off: 3pm)
Peter Thompson’s Queens men chalked up another huge victory last weekend in their survival bid, winning 3-1 against Knockbreda. It’s been an all or nothing season of results for the students, they are the only side in the second tier to not have drawn any of their games in their first season in senior football!
Portadown kept up their mantle of having the meanest defence in the league, with yet another clean sheet in the 2-0 win against Dergview last week. The Ports have only conceded seven goals to date this season as their win keeps the gap to a single point over leaders Loughgall. They failed to keep a clean sheet in the previous league meeting against Queens University last month, but a Lee Bonis double was enough to give Portadown a 3-1 win.