Berthas FC and Glebe Rangers Old Boys opened up a five point gap at the top of the table after Saturday’s round of fixtures.
Both teams scored seven in their wins and coupled with West Bann Athletic’s inactivity they moved clear at the summit. Portrush Old Boys kept up the pressure with a narrow win over The Villagers while Dunaghy Old Boys beat Finn McCools in their clash. Hazelbank scored six in their defeat of FC Crusaders, while Brook Street picked up the points in their tie with Ballyrashane.
FC Windyhall 0
Berthas FC 7
Berthas were on the front foot right from the off in this game and Biggart hit the post after being slipped in by Stewart. They eventually took the lead when Pollock crossed for Hanna who controlled and fired home. Berthas wasted a number of opportunities and were nearly punished when Fielding hit the bar direct from a corner kick.
That was as close as Windyhall got with Elder having a easy day of it in the Berthas goal. They grabbed their second when McLaughlin raced clean through to round Newman and score. Number three came when a good move down the right found Diamond in space and he crossed for Biggart to tap home. Berthas could and should have had more but Newman in the FC Windyhall goal was keeping his side from a rout with some excellent saves.
With no subs, FC Windyhall played the second half with only 10 men when Sweeney limped away injured. Berthas dominated the second half and got their fourth when Hanna and Biggart combined for the former to find Stewart in space and he fired home.
Their fifth came shortly after when Pollock flicked home after a scramble in the penalty area. Again Berthas should have scored more but Newman continued his good form. Berthas sixth came when McLaughlin’s free kick found McGarvey and the big midfielder hammered home. The last goal of the game and number 7 for Berthas went to Lindsay Campbell when he cut in from the left to curl home a pearler from 30 yards out. Man of the Match: Willie Stewart (Berthas FC)
Glebe Rangers Old Boys 7 Balnamore FC 1
This local derby took place at Megaw Park on Saturday morning with the Old Boys parading new signing, Scott Fraser, a recent capture from Portrush Old Boys and he made his presence felt with a hat-trick in an action-packed display which saw him receive the man of the match accolade.
With DJ McBride assisting in first-team duties, one other change saw Gary Fulton make a welcome return to the fold. Balnamore also provided a new face of their own as Lee Kelly stepped out to begin a second spell at his hometown club.
Glebe began well forcing a series of corners and it was comeback man Fulton who made the early breakthrough slotting home after 11 minutes. Fraser was already proving he was worth the transfer fee and with half an hour gone his cross found the White Feather, ‘Fabrizio’ Steele, who nodded home to double the lead.
A pivotal moment arrived in the 37th minute when the influential Joe Conner received his marching orders following a challenge on Paul Holmes and half-time arrived with the Old Boys two up. Steele grabbed the all-important third goal side-footing home a sublime cross from McCurdy before turning provider to set up Paul Holmes who capped an impressive display with a powerful header.
Despite the numerical disadvantage Balnamore, with old-stager Josie Kelly and Armstrong to the fore, continued to press and forced the Glebe defence to take evasive action on a number of occasions. However as legs tired it was then time for new boy Fraser to take centre stage as he scored three, the pick of which was a thunderous strike from Allen’s long ball. With time running out Armstrong notched a well-deserved consolation for the visitors to leave the final score-line 7-1 to the Old Boys. Man of the Match: Scott Fraser (Glebe Rangers Old Boys)
The Villagers 1
Portrush Old Boys 2
Villagers entertained Portrush Old Boys on a fresh morning at Castlerock. Portrush settled into the game quickly with Calvin and Martin dominating in the middle of the park but any shot on target found the Villagers keeper in good form.
Doherty had a number of chances to open the scoring but was unable to convert before a quick counter found the Villagers forward with just the keeper to beat but McCullough made a great save to keep the sides even. Portrush did take the lead however when Martin slipped a ball wide to Doherty who skipped past the defender from wide and centred beating the keeper only for the Villagers defender in attempting his clearance, pass the ball directly back to Doherty and he converted giving the Ports the lead.
Portrush started the second half on top and after the hour made a number of changes to freshen things up and the introduction of Newton paid immediate dividends when he split the defence open for McClelland to shoot past the advancing keeper.
Villagers did have more of the play in the remaining half hour and were rewarded for their efforts when Shirlow scored following a long ball out from the Villagers defence. Man of the Match: Johny Martin (Portrush OB)
Hazelbank FC 6
FC Crusaders 0
Hazelbank hit the goal trail for the second week in a row as they beat FC Crusaders 6-0. The home side started strongly and edged in front in the first 10 minutes as Wayne Davidson fired in from close range after FC Crusaders failed to clear their lines. The midfielder was instrumental in Hazelbank doubling their advantage minutes later as he won the ball on the edge of the box to tee up Ciaran Wilson, who coolly fired home. The visitors were struggling to get in the game, their best opportunity fell to Darron Harte midway through the half, but his powerful shot was pushed away by Crawford. Just before half time Hazelbank top scorer Colin McClarty grabbed his 20th of the season to make it 3-0. The second half continued in the same vein with James Tosh firing in before recent acquisitions Mark Connor and Dave McClean wrapped up the scoring late on.
Man of the Match: Wayne Davidson (Hazelbank)
Brook Street FC 3
Ballyrashane FC 2
For the first time this season Brook Street manager Paul Duffy had a full squad to select from after signing four new players. Ballyrashane’s new signing Weatherall was causing the home defence problems winning everything in the air and feeding in his team mates for chances on goal, but Kane in the Brook Street goal was equal to every shot.
Some poor defending by Brook Street allowed Chris Morrow to dance through and put his side one up. Ballyrashane went close to making it 2-0 as they hit the bar.
Paul Duffy moved brother Ryan into midfield and it paid dividends straight away as he levelled the score. McDonald teed him up and although his first effort was saved he was on hand to poke home the rebound.
It was the visitors though who edged in front just before the break as Morrow slotted home his second.
Lee McDonald drew the game level as he ran on to a great ball by Nigel Bacon and rounded the keeper before slotting home.
Joel McDonald fired the hosts in front with 10 minutes to go as he fired in from 25 yards.