Tobermore United are up into second in the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League (c) Presseye

BLUEFIN SPORT PREMIER INTERMEDIATE LEAGUE: MATCHDAY 14 PREVIEW

There’s a full round of fixtures in the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League as it’s tight at the top in the race for the promotion into senior football next season.

Armagh City v Tobermore United (venue: Holm Park; kick-off: 3pm)

Tenth placed Armagh City will need to pick up points at home if they are wanting to stay away from trouble. The Eagles have not recorded a home victory in the league since November and their 4-1 defeat last week to relegation rivals Dollingstown leaves them perilously hovering over the drop zone with a four point cushion, but having played two games more than the teams below them.

Adrian Whiteside’s Tobermore United now find themselves in second place in the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League table and currently only trail leaders Queens by three points with a game in hand (and also have the virtue of superior goal difference!). Their promotion charge is still within their own hands, as the 4-0 win over Lisburn Distillery at Fortwilliam Park last week thanks to a Gary Keane hat-trick – and they will take confidence from the 4-2 win last month when these two sides last met.

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

The Whites will be disappointed that they followed up the impressive win against Annagh United ten days ago with such a disappointing defeat on the road to promotion challengers Tobermore United last Saturday. That result leaves the New Grosvenor club in fourth place having played at least two games more than the teams above them and with a nine point gap to the top of the table, there is literally no margin for error remaining should they still hope of returning to the Championship.

Johnny Law’s Portstewart are the visitors to Lisburn tomorrow – their scoreless draw with Newington keeps them in the bottom half of the table but knowing that a win could take them back into the top six. These two sides drew 1-1 back in November at Portstewart and the Seahawks go into the game unbeaten so far in 2019.

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

Gerard McMahon’s Hoops picked up a morale boosting victory against Sport and Leisure last Saturday, the 4-1 win means the County Armagh side just outside the top half of the table on goal difference alone. The win marked the club’s first win in the league since the end of December.

Dollingstown’s super 4-1 win against Armagh City lifted them off the bottom of the table and opened up a two point gap from safety. Could that confidence boost see the Dollybirds all the way to survival in their first season back in the division? They make the short journey to Lurgan Celtic having defeated their opponents at Planter’s Park back in December in one of only two other league wins before last Saturday.

Moyola Park v Banbridge Town (venue: Mill Meadow; kick-off: 3pm)

February has seen a complete change in fortunes for struggling Moyola Park, they followed up their 6-1 hammering of Sport & Leisure earlier in the month with a shock 3-2 win against title challengers Annagh United seven days ago. The goals from Conor Taggart and Tiarnan Rafferty helped to lift the Castledawson side into ninth place in the table.

Defeat for Stuart King’s Banbridge Town last week to promotion rivals Queens University leaves the County Down side facing an uphill challenge to stay in the hunt for a place in the Bluefin Sport Championship next season. The two sides met last month in the league and only a last minute Stephen McCavitt penalty saved Banbridge from defeat, as they drew 2-2 at Crystal Park.

Newington YC v Sport & Leisure Swifts (venue: Solitude; kick-off: 3pm)

In the Belfast derby on Saturday’s it’s North versus West as Newington welcome Sport & Leisure to Solitude. Ciaran Carson and Robbie McVarnock were on target for the ‘Ton in a 2-0 victory the last time the two sides met back in November at the Glen Road Heights. Newington start the afternoon in sixth place after drawing 0-0 with Portstewart last time out.

After back to back defeats which have sent Sport & Leisure to the bottom of the table, the West Belfast club must start picking up points again if they are to avoid dropping out of the NI Football League. The Swifts have lost seven of their last eight league games but will be boosted by the arrival of former Cliftonville midfielder Barry Johnston to Packie McAllister’s coaching panel for the remainder of the season.

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

It’s arguably the clash of the day in the third tier at The Dub. Ciaran O’Hare’s first half strike against Banbridge Town was enough to secure the three points which keeps Queens at the top of the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League for another week at least as Peter Thompson’s side still hold a three point lead over second placed Tobermore United in the quest for the league title.

Annagh United are the visitors on Saturday and they need to bounce back after an alarming dip in form has seen the one time league leaders lose three of their last four league games to drop down to third, now four points off the pace. Ciaran McGurgan’s Annagh side remain the only club to have defeated Queens in the league this season but they will have to do that without the suspended duo of Niall Henderson and Owen McConville on Saturday.

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