Portadown manager Matthew Tipton takes his side to Newry City tonight (c) Philip Magowan / Presseye


The Bluefin Sport Championship is is in the balance one of the biggest matches of the league season tonight at the Newry Showgrounds, kicking off a big weekend of action!

Second placed Newry City host third placed Portadown tonight (kick-off: 7.45pm), knowing that defeat would end their hopes of the landing the league title and automatic promotion to the Danske Bank Premiership for next season. It’s been a remarkable season for Darren Mullen’s side, but they will be wary of the 2-1 defeat they suffered at Shamrock Park last month.

Since Matthew Tipton’s arrival the Ports flagging season has been revitalised with four wins out of five games to date which has lifted the Shamrock Park side within five points of second place. They start the weekend level on points with HW Welders but having played a game more.

Regardless of Newry’s result, league leaders Institute have one hand on the title as they know a win against Loughgall at Wilton Park on Saturday (kick-off 3pm) could seal the Bluefin Sport Championship title. It’s been a rollercoaster season for the North West club as they have fought the adversity of losing their home ground to being on the cusp of a return to the Premiership. They first have to overcome Dean Smith’s Loughgall side who they faced only last week but who also defeated ‘Stute back in December at Lakeview Park.

The remaining top half fixture is at Dixon Park as Clifford Adams’ out of form Ballyclare Comrades side welcome Harland & Wolff Welders, with the visitors still chasing their own ambitions of a top three finish. The two sides met last Saturday and it was the East Belfast side who came away with all three points thanks to early goals from David Rainey and Ross Arthurs having been behind in the game.

In the bottom half of the Championship, it has become a three-way battle between Limavady United, Knockbreda and Dergview to avoid slipping down into the relegation playoff place. Limavady United host already relegated Lurgan Celtic knowing that a win would ensure their survival in the second tier . Brendan Shannon’s Lurgan Celtic side are without a win in 28 competitive games since September whilst Limavady United ran out comfortable 3-0 winners in the corresponding fixture on Tuesday.

Second bottom, Dergview, have arguably the toughest task this weekend as they go to Larne, but hold the benefit of a game in hand over their relegation rivals in midweek. Whilst at Newforge Lane, PSNI host Knockbreda in an all-Belfast clash, it was a four goal stalemate between the sides last week.