Hazelbank and Glebe Rangers Old Boys progressed to the first round proper of the Cup and Shield respectively after saturdays preliminary games.
Hazelbank edged a tight affair at FC Macosquin while Glebe Rangers won the big clash of the top 2 in the league against Macosquin Village.
In the league, Mountview closed the gap on the top two with a routine win at home against Coleraine Olympic while a fantastic strike from Mark Blair was needed to give Dunaghy the points away to Ballyrashane. Hillview won by the odd goal in seven against Finn McCools while West Bann Athletic were comfortable winners against Somerset. The in big derby game, Berthas FC and The Villagers drew 1-1 for the second time this season as Brook Street picked up a much needed win over The Taverners.
This week see the first round of the cup take place with a few interesting ties up for decision. Tie of the round seems to be at Rugby Avenue where Mountview take on FC Macosquin. Dunaghy Old Boys entertain West Bann Athletic in another tasty match. Hillview entertain The Taverners in another tight contest while their should be progression for Glebe Rangers, Balnamore, Berthas, Hazelbank and The Villagers in their ties.
Glebe Rangers Old Boys 2
Macosquin Village 1 (Shield Preliminary)
The Old Boys hosted long-term rivals Macosquin Village in this cup-tie at the Joey Dunlop Stadium as league duties were temporarily suspended for a week. Macosquin were missing defensive stalwarts McFetridge and McBride whilst for Glebe, Les Nicholl was the one absentee from last week.
In this eagerly-awaited encounter which would see one of the favourites eliminated at an early stage, the visitors made their intentions clear straight from the kick-off and Allen was placed in difficulty when a back-pass took an uneven bounce and went just past the post. Emboldened by this near miss the Villagers continued on the offensive with Patterson the fulcrum of most of their good work, ably supported by McDowell and Newton.
However they were mainly restricted to long range efforts and these were ably dealt with by home custodian Allen. Gradually the Old Boys began to gain a foothold in the game and Bellingham came close when his header from Wilmont’s corner struck the crossbar. McCurdy also struck the woodwork as Glebe used the conditions to their advantage but half-time arrived with neither team on the score-sheet.
The deadlock was broken on the hour when Ivan Elder, a substitute for the injured McCrocked, put the finishing touch to a fine passing move by the Glebe. As in the first half Macosquin could have scored right from the restart but Surgenor was on hand to clear the danger. Elder’s header from a McCurdy free-kick was cleared off the line as the Old Boys tried to press home their advantage and it was super-sub Elder who increased the lead in the 73rd minute with a neat volley after Wilmont’s corner wasn’t cleared.
With Macosquin pushing forward Steele blazed over when presented with an opportunity to clinch the game. With 10 minuites remaining Lee Biggart pulled one back for the Villagers when he capitalised on a defensive mix-up. This was the signal for Macosquin to throw caution to the wind in an attempt to force extra-time but despite their best efforts the Old Boys defence held firm and ensured it would be Glebe who progressed from an extremely tight, hard-fought battle to meet Ballyrashane in the next round. Man of the Match: Ian Bellingham (Glebe Rangers Old Boys)
FC Macosquin 0 Hazelbank FC 2 (Cup Preliminary)
Hazelbank negotiated this tricky preliminary cup tie against FC Macosquin.
The hosts won the toss and chose to play with the strong wind at their backs. Because of this they saw a lot of the ball in the first half, but the found the Hazelbank defence a tough nut to crack.
McGuinness, Vauls and Downes all went close with efforts. But Hazelbank were causing problems, particularly from set pieces. Barry Greene was unlucky not to add to his goal tally as he crashed a header off the bar and McClarty drew a good save out of the keeper.The hosts should have opened the scoring before the break but they were twice denied by Crawford in the home goal. First he got down well to palm away Brickley’s effort, and then he pushed away Campbell’s powerful drive.
After the restart Hazelbank upped the pressure with McClarty again going close. The deadlock was finally broken midway through the half as McClarty took advantage of a slip in the Macosquin defence to fire home.
The home side didn’t lie down though as Brickley hit the bar and McGahon forced Crawford into another save.
Hazelbank wrapped up the win just before the end as Dave McClean powered a header home. Man of the Match: Jimmy Smyth (Hazelbank)
Mountview FC 6 Coleraine Olympic 0
The home started this match with a strong wind on their backs. However, they did not use it to their benefit, with the ball spending more time in the air than on the ground. The heavy pitch did not help their cause either. Chances came and went before Watton opened the scoring midway through the half. The midfielder finding the top corner with a powerful drive after good work by Mitchell and Martin.
The home side continued to dominate play but poor passing and wayward shooting kept the scoreline down. Martin then doubled his side’s advantage when he tapped home after being set up by Wills. Fraser then added a third just before the interval to give his side a commanding lead.
The second half saw Olympic start the brighter, as they made the most of the home sides disjointed performance. Twenty minutes into the half and McLelland took the wind out of their spirited comeback when ha added his sides fourth. The striker doubled his tally when he made it five, when his deflected shot ended in the back of the net. Doherty added another before the end to seal a comfortable victory for the home side. Man of the Match: Johnny Martin (Mountview)
Ballyrashane FC 0 Dunaghy Old Boys 1
Dunaghy started brightly enough with Robinson’s drive going just wide of the post. Ballyrashane were seeing some good ball and working hard all over the pitch but they were finding a clear cut chance hard to come by. ‘Robo’ missed a penalty on 31 minutes, a fine save by David Doherty.
Laverty then rattled the bar from 20 yards, but the Old Boys couldn’t break the deadlock and it was scoreless at half time. The second half was fiercely contested with the Old Boys still creating chances but found Doherty in goals in great form. It looked like a point each but on 83 minutes Dunaghy’s Mark Blair unleashed a superb 25 yard half volley into the top corner. It took a special strike to earn all three points and beat goalkeeper Doherty. Man of the Match: David Doherty (Ballyrashane FC)
Finn McCools 3 Hillview FC 4
The first goal of the game came in the sixth minute when Frazer’s shot was turned back into the path of McCrellis and the striker only had to tap the ball into the gaping net. Their lead was doubled soon after. Black latched onto a loose ball just inside the box and lashed it home. As the first half progressed Finn McCools’ started to improve and went close on a few occasions only to be denied by excellent tackles by McVey and Sweeney. With the first half drawing to a close Hillview extended there lead. Mullan’s cross was met by Frazer who lost his marker for the first time of his life to nod home.
Hillview’s fourth goal came from the penalty spot after Black was fouled in a needless challenge. Mullan who is fast becoming Hillview’s equivalent of Gareth Bale stepped up and sent the Finns’ keeper the wrong way. The home side pulled one back from the straight from the restart. Dobbin picked up the ball on the left hand side of the box and drilled it giving McDowell no chance.
A 30 yard free kick from Close would have been the goal of the game, but the Hillview midfielder seen the ball rebound off the corner point of the bar with the keeper no where to be seen. McCools’ pulled a second back when a throw in from the left was flicked on and then headed in by Ian Parke. The game was made interesting when Finns’ made it 4-3 with fifteen minutes remaining. Johnny Parke chested the ball down inside the box from a free kick and his shot proved to much for McDowell. Finns’ were now throwing everything at the Hillview goal. However, the Hillview defence held strong to secure the win. Man of the Match: Ryan Sweeney (Hillview)
West Bann Athletic 4 Somerset FC 1
West Bann Athletic entertained Somerset at Rugby Avenue winning a hard fought game. Somerset took the lead against the run of play through Sweeny after capitalising on a rare Athletic defensive mix up. Athletic equalised with Phil Stevenson finishing well when presented with the opportunity.
Athletic took the lead ten minutes into the second half through Aaron McLelland who was on hand to take full advantage of a howler by the Somerset goalkeeper. Athletic more or less sealed all three points minutes later when Chris Shirlow found the net chipping the Somerset keeper from thirty yards.
Somerset to there credit continued to battle for the remainder of the game but it was Athletic who completed the scoring signalling game over and 4-1 to Athletic with Chris Loughrey making no mistake from 12 yards out on his return from injury. Man of the Match: Davy Hunter
The Villagers 1 Berthas FC 1
This derby encounter was played out in extreme wind, which turned the match very scrappy at times. In a quiet first half Berthas almost took the lead but for a fine save by Gary Friel following a point blank header from Willie Parsons.
At the other end the Villagers Rab Friel had his 20 yard effort tipped over by McClarty. Ryan Pollock made a last ditch header to again deny Berthas but just before half time following a superb corner from Drake, Parsons pounced to make it 1-0.
In the second half Berthas should have killed The Villagers off but a combination of poor finishing, heroic defending from Davy Pollock and big Trevor Hutchinson and great goalkeeping from Friel kept The Villagers in the game.
And it proved costly with 10 minutes to go. Stan Shirlow shocked everyone when he shrewedly used the wind to his advantage with a 25 yard strike that blew everywhere then finally into the net past the bewildered McClarty to make it 1-1. Men of the Match: Davy Pollock and Trevor Hutchinson (The Villagers)
Brook Street 4 The Taverners 3
Both teams settled well and despite a strong wind against Brook St they kept a well organised Taverners at bay.
The hosts opened the scoring on 12 minutes as Mark Dinsmore kept his cool to slot home inside the box.
Brook Street’s defence mopped up everything that was thrown at them in the difficult conditions.
The visitors drew level just after the break as O’Boyle fired home. It got worse for Brook Street soon after as Peter Baird smashed home.
The hosts were given a chance to draw level almost straight away as James Tosh was brought down in the box. Tosh took the spot kick himself and his initial shot was blocked, but he dispatched the rebound.
Brook Street scored two wind assisted goals in the final minutes to seal the points. First Curtis Boreland curled in from a corner before Andrew Campbell’s free kick from his own 18-yard box bounced over the opposition keeper and into the net.
In the dying moments Taverners took advantge of Brook St switching off and scored a fine effort by Thompson, but it was too little, too late. Man of the Match: Mark Dinsmore (Brook Street)
Knockout Cup First Round
Saturday, February 25
Ballyrashane v Glebe Rangers Old Boys Ballysally 2
Balnamore FC v Finn McCool’s Fulton Park
Coleraine Olympic v Bertha’s FC Rugby Avenue 2
Dunaghy Old Boy’s v West Bann Athletic Dunaghy
Hazelbank v Brook Street Rugby Avenue 1
Hillview FC v Taverners FC Crescent 3
Mountview FC v FC Macosquin Rugby Avenue 3
Villagers FC v Somerset Castlerock