Sean Friars' Limavady United kick off the Bluefin Sport Championship action this weekend against Carrick Rangers (c) Presseye

BLUEFIN SPORT CHAMPIONSHIP: MATCHDAY 4 PREVIEW

The first month of the Bluefin Sport Championship comes to an end tonight and there has been plenty of excitement! We preview this weekend’s fixtures.

Friday 31 August 2018

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

This week’s Bluefin Sport Championship action kicks off tonight (Friday) at the Limavady Showgrounds. The Roesiders will be feeling the strain of taking League Cup holders Dungannon Swifts to extra time three nights ago, but Sean Friars will be encouraged by his team’s performances in the past week having picked up their first league point of the season against Ballyclare Comrades, in what has been an indifferent start to the Championship season.

It’s been a good week for Niall Currie’s Carrick Rangers who have bounced back from their 5-0 reverse to Dundela, with back-to-back wins against firstly Knockbreda in the league and then Sport and Leisure Swifts. Midfielder Lee Chapman has also boosted the East Antrim club after returning to the club following a short spell with GLentoran. Saturday 1 September 2018

Saturday 1 September 2018

Ballinamallard United v Portadown (venue: Ferney Park; kick-off: 3pm)

Two clubs with Premiership promotion ambitions meet at Ferney Park on Saturday’s stand out game in the Bluefin Sport Championship. Harry McConkey’s Mallards comfortably progressed past Lurgan Celtic in the League Cup on Tuesday, bouncing back from a surprise 4-1 defeat to Dergview last Saturday.

Portadown also progressed in the League Cup (defeating Tobermore United in extra time) and have started the season well, unbeaten after three Championship games against Loughgall, PSNI and HW Welders – this will be arguably their toughest test of the season to date.

Dergview v Knockbreda (venue: Darragh Park; kick-off: 3pm)

What a week it’s been for Dergview – they return home to Darragh Park after causing the upset of the League Cup, knocking out Gary Hamilton’s Glenavon on Tuesday night. That result also came of the back of a superb 4-1 win over Ballinamallard United last Saturday at Ferney Park, Peter Allen’s side will go into the game with confidence of making it four wins from their last four.

By comparison it’s been two defeats in a week for Lee Forsythe’s Knockbreda side, defeat to Carrick Rangers at home in the league last Saturday was followed by a narrow defeat to Newry City in the League Cup on Tuesday.

Dundela v Loughgall (venue: Wilgar Park; kick-off: 3pm)

The surprise Championship league leaders go into this game looking to preserve the only 100% record in the division and extend their lead at the top. It’s been three wins from three games to date for Bryan McCarroll’s side who defeated PSNI last time out thanks to a Christopher Watts double – they will also have had the advantage of a midweek rest having not competed in the League Cup second round on Tuesday night.

The Villagers from Loughgall have struggled for form since their draw with Portadown on the opening game of the season. Dean Smith’s side go into this game off the back of three consecutive defeats which include a midweek 5-1 defeat at the Brandywell to Institute in the League Cup and a cruel late defeat in stoppage time to Larne last Friday evening in the league.

HW Welders v Ballyclare Comrades (venue: Tillysburn Park; kick-off: 3pm)

The Welders go into this game without influential defender Dan McMurray who suffered a serious injury in midweek, which led to the abandonment of the League Cup game against Portstewart on Tuesday evening. It’s been a sluggish start to the Championship campaign as following their opening day win, Norman Kelly’s men have suffered back to back defeats to Dergview and more recently Portadown.

Stephen Hughes’ return to the Comrades hotseat has been positive as they will feel hard done by following their stoppage time League Cup exit to Premiership title challengers Coleraine on Tuesday. The Comrades are unbeaten to date this season and start the game in second place in the table, despite losing their 100% with a draw against Limavady United last Friday night.

PSNI v Larne (venue: Newforge Lane; kick-off: 3pm)

It’s been a tough start to the season down at Newforge for the PSNI, as they remain the only team in the division not to pick up a single point yet following defeats to Dundela, Portadown and Ballyclare Comrades. In midweek they put up a spirited performance against Premiership champions Crusaders, eventually losing 4-1 with two late goals conceded.

The PSNI’s ambitions of getting their first points on the board will not be made any easier with the visit of the Championship title favourites Larne on Saturday. Tiernan Lynch’s side are unbeaten so far this season, with seven points from their first nine and currently sit fourth in the table. The Inver Park side took Premiership side Glentoran to extra time in the BetMcLean Cup in midweek, but exited the competition, losing 3-2.

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