Friday, 04 January 2019
The first four Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League games take the limelight this weekend as the top billing in the NI Football League, we preview all the fixtures.
Dollingstown v Sport & Leisure Swifts (venue: Planter's Park; kick-off: 2pm)
There's a crunch game at the bottom of the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League table on Saturday as Stephen Uprichard's Dollingstown can move off the foot of the table with a win. There's currently only two points seperating Saturday's opponents going into the game as the Dollybirds look to bounce back from back-to-back defeats to Banbridge Town over the festive period.
Swifts' manager Packie McAllister has been boosted by the arrival of experienced midfielder Steven McAlorum from Ballymena United during the week. The former Glentoran and Glenavon enforcer will look to add some steel to a side that has lost their last four games in succession including a 3-2 defeat to Lurgan Celtic last time out before Christmas through a last minute penalty.
Lurgan Celtic v Banbridge Town (venue: Knockramer Park; kick-off: 2pm)
Gerard McMahon will be hoping the tide has turned a corner over Christmas with two wins from their last two games which have moved the County Armagh side into seventh, level on points with Banbridge Town above them. Kevin McAlinden scored the winner on the road against Portstewart last Saturday as Lurgan Celtic will look to start 2019 with a win after a disappointing 2018 which included relegation from the Championship.
Banbridge Town have already defeated the Hoops this season, winning 3-0 in October en-route to winning the Bob Radcliffe Cup. Stuart King’s side go into this game in good form having gone six games without defeat during a busy December, they defeated neighbours Dollingstown 2-1 last Saturday in the league.
Moyola Park v Armagh City (venue: Mill Meadow; kick-off: 2pm)
Another important clash at the bottom of the third tier at Castledawson sees Moyola Park host Armagh City and with the bottom four all meeting each other on Saturday, it could be all change in the race for NI Football League survival come the final whistle. The home side could move level with Armagh with a win at home, but with six defeats in their last seven games for Mervyn Pattison’s side, they will be looking a return to form with only two points separating them from the relegation place.
Armagh City currently sit in ninth with a five point cushion from the foot of the table after following up their 1-0 pre-Christmas win over Dollingstown by ending Annagh United’s 100% record last Saturday with a commendable scoreless draw.
Tobermore United v Newington YC (venue: Fortwilliam Park; kick-off: 2pm)
Third placed Tobermore United continued their impressive start to the season with victory in the derby against Moyola Park last Saturday that leaves Adrian Whiteside’s team six points off leaders Queens University with two games in hand going into this clash with Newington. There was another league goal for Peter Duffin against Moyola, and the departure of Matthew Ferguson from Distillery to Championship club HW Welders, leaves the former Ballymena United forward as the Premier Intermediate League’s leading scorer.
Newington have also found form this season and are currently just two points behind Tobermore in fourth place, having placed a game more. They drew 1-1 with Banbridge Town before Christmas in their last outing and will be hoping to start 2019 with a win on the road.
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