Adam Foley of Newry City pictured with Alyn Spratt of Bluefin Sport (c) Presseye

PREVIEW: BLUEFIN SPORT CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK 16

The action kicks off tonight in the Bluefin Sport Championship at the Newry Showgrounds as leaders Portadown can extend their lead ahead of Saturday’s five games, we look ahead to all the matches.

Friday 8 November

Newry City v Portadown (venue: Newry Showgrounds; kick-off: 7.45pm)

There’s a huge Championship clash at the Newry Showgrounds on Friday evening to kick-off the weekend’s action as Newry host league leaders, Portadown. Darren Mullen’s men have enjoyed a resurgence in form in recent weeks – they start the gameweek in fifth place and could go fourth with as much a point before the Saturday fixtures after winning their last game 1-0 away to Ballyclare Comrades. City’s Adam Foley was awarded with the NIFWA Championship Player of the Month earlier this week.

The Ports maintained their narrow advantage at the top of the table with a comfortable 3-0 win against Knockbreda at Shamrock Park last Saturday. They lead the promotion charge on goal difference and have the chance to lay down a marker ahead of their rivals this weekend with the trip to Newry. It ended scoreless last month when these sides met last time out at Shamrock Park, the visitors will also go into this game without the suspended Conal McGrandles.

Saturday 9 November

Ards v Ballinamallard United (venue: Bangor Fuels Arena; kick-off: 3pm)

There will have been some soul searching at Ards this week for manager Warren Feeney after his side were the victims of a shock 3-1 defeat to Queens University. That defeat leaves hopes of a return to the Danske Bank Premiership next season unlikely for the County Down side who will be without experienced midfielder Craig McMillen who is suspended for Saturday.

In the visiting dugout, Harry McConkey can be a lot more optimistic than is counterpart Feeney about a return to the top flight – the Mallards have worked their way to within two points of the top of the table and grinded out another three points last week against Dergview at Ferney Park. The Fermanagh side needed a last minute Chris Kelly goal to earn a point in the 1-1 draw back in August.

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

The season still continues to fail to ignite for Ivan Sproule and Dergview, after another defeat last week – in their derby against Ballinamallard United. That loss means the Tyrone club are still looking over their shoulder as they start the weekend in tenth spot and just outside of the relegation zone, influential defender Blaine Burns is unavailable through suspension.

Peter Thompson will be delighted with his team’s showing last week against Ards and in particular the performance of star man Jonah Mitchell who bagged two goals in the 3-1 win. Victory at the Dub was the sixth league win of a hugely impressive first season in senior football for the Students, who currently in seventh place – just three points outside the top six ahead of the trip to Castlederg this weekend.

HW Welders v Loughgall (venue: Tillysburn Park; kick-off: 2pm)

The Welders are still searching for some consistency this season to move the East Belfast club away from the wrong end of the table, after three wins from their last four games before last Saturday – but the 2-1 defeat to local rivals Dundela leaves Colin McIlwaine and George O’Boyle still looking over their shoulder with only a one point cushion over the relegation zone – they will be without striker Lukas Gwiazda (suspended) for this game.

Loughgall just keep churning out the results to keep the Villagers level on points at the top of the Bluefin Sport Championship, the latest victory was a resounding 6-0 display against PSNI in which the division’s top scorer Nathaniel Ferris added another two goals to his tally to take him to 13 for the league campaign to date. These two clubs met as recently as last month at Lakeview Park, with Loughgall running out 4-1 winners.

Knockbreda v Ballyclare Comrades (venue: Breda Park; kick-off: 2pm)

The East Belfast club are still without a permanent manager after the recent sacking of Lee Forysthe, Knockbreda went to Portadown last Saturday and the 3-0 defeat keeps them rooted to the foot of the table – still by eight points on nearest rivals PSNI. They must perform better than the 4-0 defeat in the last meeting between themselves and the Comrades back in September.

Defeat to Newry City had brought to an end the mini revival for Paul Harbinson and his Comrades side who had until then gone four games unbeaten throughout October. The Dixon Park club start the weekend in eighth place and will be keen to earn all three points to open up a further gap between them and their opponents in the battle for survival – they must face that challenge without captain JB Dobbin who sits out this game through suspension.

PSNI v Dundela (venue: The Dub; kick-off: 2pm)

Sammy McFadden must regroup quickly after a 6-0 hammering from Loughgall last Saturday as they welcome another top six side to The Dub tomorrow with the visit of cross-city rivals Dundela. PSNI currently sit second bottom of the Championship and it’s now seven games without a win for the South Belfast outfit, having also already lost 5-2 to the Duns earlier in the campaign.

Fourth placed Dundela are not out of the promotion mix yet, the 2-1 win against HW Welders last week keeps Bryan McCarroll’s men within eight points of the top of the table having won their last two league games in succession.