PREVIEW: BLUEFIN SPORT PREMIER INTERMEDIATE LEAGUE WEEK 8

The festive derbies have come early in the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League, we preview Saturday’s four fixtures.

Annagh United v Armagh City (venue: Tandragee Road; kick-off: 3pm)

In County Armagh, league leaders Annagh United will look to increase their advantage at the top of the third tier – they currently have a one point lead on the Seahawks. Ciaran McGurgan’s men travel to Holm Park after losing their Mid-Ulster Cup semi-final to Loughgall on Tuesday evening, that result was a first defeat in five games for the Annagh – who will have goalkeeper Eoin Hughes suspended for this game.

Armagh City are in action for the first time since their draw with Banbridge Town two weeks ago in the last round of Premier Intermediate League. Shea Campbell’s side may have only one league victory in their six games to date, but currently sit in seventh place in the table but face a tricky task on Saturday with the trio of duo of Conor Mullen and Lee Campbell suspended.

Dollingstown v Banbridge Town (venue: Planter’s Park; kick-off: 2pm)

Sixth placed Dollingstown welcome Banbridge to Planter’s Park on Saturday looking to move further up the table. Stephen Uprichard’s men were knocked out of the Intermediate Cup last weekend by Amateur League side East Belfast – prior to that the Dollybirds had enjoyed a run of only one defeat in their last seven outings – they are currently five points ahead of their opponents going into the weekend’s fixture.

Things are starting to look up again for Stuart King and Banbridge Town since their Irish Cup win over Ballymacash Rangers three weeks ago, the County Down side have now gone three games unbeaten as they aim to pull away from the wrong end of the Premier Intermediate League. Goals From Conor Downey and Darren McGrath sealed progression to the next round of the Intermediate Cup last week, as Banbridge Town defeated Rectory Rangers, 2-1.

Limavady United v Portstewart (venue: Limavady Showgrounds; kick-off: 3pm)

The hat-trick from Dean Brown was enough to secure progress for Mark Clydle’s Limavady United squad into round three of the Intermediate Cup last Saturday as they won 5-3 against Strabane Athletic. The Roesiders are currently in eighth place in the Premier Intermediate League table. United lost 2-1 to Lisburn Distillery at New Grosvenor Park last time out in the league.

Portstewart tasted defeat for the first time since September, as they lost on penalties to Markethill Swifts on penalties last Saturday in the Intermediate Cup second round. The North Coast club had previously gone seven games undefeated in a vein of form that has taken them to within a point of the top of the table, they make the journey to Limavady without influential defender Richard Vauls who is suspended for the Seahawks.

Moyola Park v Tobermore United (venue: Mill Meadow; kick-off: 3pm)

Despite a shaky start to the season, Mervyn Pattison’s Moyola Park have picked up in recent weeks – winning three from their last five competitive outings, including a convincing 4-0 Intermediate Cup victory over Lurgan Town seven days ago. Veteran striker Chris Dowie bagged two goals against Lurgan Town and he will be looking to carry that form into the league as the Castledawson outfit have only eight goals from their opening six league games this season.

Tobermore United remain bottom of the table with only two points on the board so far, their 4-1 league defeat to Bangor two weeks ago was a fifth in succession for Adrian Whiteside’s team. No motivation will be required for this derby clash but the visitors will have Jake Francis suspended for the trip to Mill Meadow.