BLUEFIN SPORT PREMIER INTERMEDIATE LEAGUE: MATCHDAY 19 PREVIEW

The top two divisions may be all but tied up - there's still all to play for at the top of the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League this weekend, as we preview all the games.

Friday 12 April

Newington v Tobermore United (venue: Solitude; kick-off: 7.45pm)

The action kicks off in the third tier on Friday night as Newington host Tobermore United at Solitude. Fifth placed Newington could pull within three points of their opponents on Friday evening, despite going into this fixture off the back of a sound 4-1 defeat to Annagh United at the same venue last Friday evening.

It’s a last throw of the dice for Tobermore United as their title hopes have faded away in recent weeks, with Adrian Whiteside’s men currently trailing the top two by six points with five games left to play. Surprise back-to-back defeats to Dollingstown and Portstewart will be of frustration to Tobermore, who drew the last meeting with the North Belfast side 1-1 back in January at Fortwilliam Park.

Saturday 13 April

Armagh City v Sport & Leisure Swifts (venue: Holm Park; kick-off: 3pm)

There’s a huge game at Holm Park as NI Football League status is on the line with the bottom two facing off for three valuable points. The home side have the advantage of a four point lead over the Swifts but will only have one game left to play after Saturday compared to the four that Packie McAllister’s side have remaining. They lost 1-0 at home to Moyola Park last Saturday and will be without Luke Ferguson, Reese McInerney and Sean Mallon for this game through suspension.

Sport & Leisure hit back from three goals down last Saturday at home to Dollingstown to halt an alarming run of seven consecutive defeats in the league. It could be the spark to reignite their season and with a number of their long term suspended players returning for the first time they will look to make it a clean sweep of victories against the Eagles this season after winning the reverse tie in the league and also in the Intermediate Cup.

Dollingstown v Banbridge Town (venue: Planter’s Park; kick-off: 3pm)

The tenth placed Dollybirds are not completely safe from the threat of relegation themselves but have the luxury of a seven point cushion from the dreaded relegation place and also a further game in hand over Armagh City at the bottom. Stephen Uprichard’s side failed to take advantage of a 3-0 lead last week after 65 minutes against Sport & Leisure, having to settle for a point. They will be without striker Richard Thompson for this game against their neighbours through suspension.

Stuart King’s Banbridge Town sit comfortably in mid-table but could have a say in the title race with two games against Tobermore United and one against Annagh left to play after Saturday.

Lisburn Distillery v Annagh United (venue: New Grosvenor Park; kick-off: 3pm)

It’s been a bad week for the Whites, they lost their management team ahead of Saturday’s heavy defeat to Queens University and now team captain Aaron Harris and players Stephen Curley & Barry Moore must pick the club up for another tough test against title challenging Annagh United. Distillery had beaten Saturday’s visitors on the road in their last meeting in February and had gone on a run of four straight league wins going into the Queens defeat, they will be looking to consolidate fourth place with only two games remaining.

The title race continues to look like going to the wire after another victory for Ciaran McGurgan’s Annagh United side last weekend (against Newington at Solitude). They remain top of the table on goal difference from rivals Queens and have now gone six games unbeaten in the league going into the final few games.

Lurgan Celtic v Portstewart (venue: Knockramer Park; kick-off: 3pm)

It’s seventh versus eighth in the bottom half of the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League – two sides who will be disappointed with their return in the league this campaign. Ninth placed Lurgan Celtic are without a win since mid-February having lost 3-0 to Banbridge Town at Crystal Park last week.

Portstewart’s Intermediate Cup final date has now been put under challenge from an appeal by beaten semi-finalists Queens University. Johnny Law’s side have up to three games in hand on the teams around them in the league and still could be in contention for a top half finish. The Seahawks defeated Tobermore United last week by a single goal, but lost their last meeting with the Hoops back in December in the league.

Moyola Park v Queens University (venue: Mill Meadow; kick-off: 3pm)

Peter Thompson’s Queens University still remain as favourites for the title, as they may sit second in the standings but with a game in hand – the destiny of possible promotion is in their hands. A ruthless five star display against Lisburn Distillery continued the run of only one league defeat since September which included a 1-0 win against Moyola at the Dub back in December, when Ryan Young’s late, late goal was enough to earn all the points.

Moyola Park have steered themselves to safety after a difficult start to the season, they will be able to enjoy the final few games of the season and even push for a top half finish under manager Mervyn Pattinson. The Castledawson side bounced back from successive defeats to win 1-0 against Armagh City last Saturday.

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