Action from Carrick Rangers v Ballinamallard United (c) Carrick Rangers
Friday, 12 April 2019
After the highs of the trophy celebrations last week – the focus now switches as to the intriguing relegation battle to say in the Bluefin Sport Championship next year! We look ahead to all the action.
Ballyclare Comrades v Dergview (venue: Dixon Park; kick-off: 3pm)
Stephen Hughes can almost rest easy going into the final three games of the league season as Comrades manager, his team need just a point to mathematically confirm their place in the Championship for next season. Thomas Robinson’s late winner against Limavady United last weekend was a first win in five attempts for the East Antrim side.
Ivan Sproule’s Dergview have moved up to ninth in the table after an important 3-0 win over Knockbreda at Darragh Park – they are far from safe though and could easily find themselves back in the relegation playoff spot should results go against them elsewhere. Only three sides in the entire division have conceded less goals than Dergview this term and have only lost once in the league since the turn of the year.
Carrick Rangers v Ballinamallard United (venue: Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena; kick-off: 3pm)
All the promotion momentum seems to be swaying in the favour of Niall Currie’s band of brothers as Carrick Rangers confirmed their place as runners-up in the Bluefin Sport Championship and in turn ensuring their place in the promotion playoffs for a potential return to the Premiership. Rangers were 2-1 winners away to the Welders in
The Mallards too are in a fine run of form buoyed by their upcoming appearance in the Irish Cup final next month. They could potentially make a late challenge for the second playoff place should they overtake Portadown in the standings, but with six points to make up and three games left it may prove tricky for Harry McConkey’s side in what has already been a truly memorable season for the Mallards.
Dundela v Larne (venue: Wilgar Park; kick-off: 3pm)
The East Belfast side have bowed out of contention for promotion but can be proud of their achievements on their return to the second tier this season. Bryan McCarroll’s side currently are third in the table level on points with Portadown and a win against the Champions would be enough to seal a top four finish – although they go into this game off the back of a 2-0 defeat to Ballinamallard last week.
The party continued at Inver Park last Saturday and may not have stopped yet as they received the Bluefin Sport Championship trophy – their first league title in 47 years! That came after a convincing champions display against Portadown as they fired three goals without reply. Larne also have won all three encounters with Dundela this season and will be aiming to make it a clean sweep as they want to finish the season in style!
Knockbreda v Loughgall (venue: Breda Park; kick-off: 3pm)
Lee Forsythe’s Knockbreda now find themselves in a perilous position at the bottom end of the table after a 3-0 defeat to relegation rivals Dergview last week. This leaves the East Belfast side hovering dangerously over the playoff position in tenth place. A win will be vital for their survival hopes but they are in for a stern test against Loughgall tomorrow.
Dean Smith’s Loughgall side top the relegation split group of the Bluefin Sport Championship – in seventh place but lost 2-1 to PSNI last Saturday. Meetings between these two sides have been fairly close this season with a win apiece and a draw in the previous three Championship meetings this term.
Portadown v HW Welders (venue: Shamrock Park; kick-off: 3pm)
The pressure is now on Portadown to get the three points that would almost certainly guarantee them a place in the promotion playoff against Carrick Rangers. The Ports may be sitting in fourth place in the table, but with Dundela not progressing their application for promotion – Portadown as the next highest placed team with likely face Carrick for a shot at playing the Premiership’s relegation representatives. Matthew Tipton’s young side were revealed as the youngest side in the division this week, with no less than 12 teenagers contributing to their league campaign – they go into this game off the back of a 3-0 defeat to champions Larne on Saturday past.
Colin McIlwaine and George O’Boyle are officially in the Welders dugout for the first time since joining from Lisburn Distillery officially last weekend. They must come in and pick up a side that has lost the last six games in succession and are currently sixth in the table with three matches remaining.
PSNI v Limavady United (venue: Newforge Lane; kick-off: 3pm)
The league’s bottom two meeting in a crunch game in South Belfast as both teams are putting their Championship status on the line in this game. Sean Friars’ Limavady United side could be relegated with a defeat to PSNI at Newforge Lane. Their mini-rival came to an end with their 1-0 loss to Ballyclare Comrades last Saturday and a return to the third tier looks imminent.
Sammy McFadden’s PSNI are in danger too as they are two points from guaranteed safety with Knockbreda just above them in the table. The 2-1 win last week against Loughgall has given hopes of survival a welcome boost and they will go into this encounter as favourites having won two of the last three league meetings between the sides.
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