BLUEFIN SPORT PREMIER INTERMEDIATE LEAGUE: MATCHDAY 15 PREVIEW

There's a three horse race developing at the top of the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League table - we preview all the weekend's games.

Annagh United v Dollingstown (venue: Tandragee Road; kick-off: 3pm)

There’s little margin for error now for Ciaran McGurgan’s Annagh United side as they welcome neighbours Dollingstown to the Tandagree Road on Saturday. Locked into a three horse race for the title, Annagh lie a point behind the front two in third place. Their last outing on Saturday past ended abruptly in the Intermediate Cup as an injury to a Crumlin Star player forced an abandonment after 60 minutes.

Dollingstown are still holding out hope of survival in the NI Football League, they came from two goals down in their last league outing to draw 2-2 against Moyola Park. They exited the Intermediate Cup to Mid-Ulster league side Banbridge Rangers last weekend.

Lurgan Celtic v Lisburn Distillery (venue: Knockramer Park; kick-off: 3pm)

Gerard McMahon’s side bounced back from their five goal defeat to Annagh United a fortnight ago, with a 1-1 draw against Newington YC last Saturday in the only Premier Intermediate League game to go ahead last week. The Hoops start the afternoon in ninth place but will look to make amends for the 3-1 defeat to Saturday’s opponents in the reverse fixture back in December.

Distillery start the afternoon in fourth position but their promotion hopes seem to be all but over for another year with eight points to make up in the final six games of their league season. Two second half goals earned a comfortable win over Banbridge Town last time out a fortnight ago, but a free week will allow them to prepare.

Moyola Park v Tobermore United (venue: Mill Meadow; kick-off: 3pm)

There’s a big derby in South Derry on Saturday of huge importance for both sides as Moyola Park host league leaders Tobermore United. Mervyn Pattison’s Moyola side have moved away from danger in recent weeks with six games unbeaten since the turn of the year and have moved away from the threat of relegation and are in eighth place level on points with Lurgan Celtic and Portstewart.

Tobermore United could well be one of the success stories of the season as they lead the Premier Intermediate League on goal difference with a game in hand. They went to the top of the table with a superb eight goal win against Sport & Leisure Swifts two weeks ago and have defeated their derby rivals already this season back in December.

Newington YC v Banbridge Town (venue: Solitude; kick-off: 3pm)

Only one place separates these two sides in the third-tier as Newington start the game in fifth with home advantage at Solitude on Saturday. They are now four games unbeaten but continue to struggle for back-to-back victories, drawing with Lurgan Celtic in last week’s only league match, following up on their 3-1 win over Armagh City.

Banbridge’s game against Tobermore United was postponed last Saturday, giving Stuart King’s side two games in hand against the teams directly above them in the table. Their last outing produced a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Lisburn Distillery and the previous meeting between Banbridge and Newington ended in a 1-1 draw back in December at Crystal Park.

Queens University v Armagh City (venue: The Dub; kick-off: 3pm)

Peter Thompson’s Queens University side are still very much in the hunt for the title despite being knocked off the top of the table by Tobermore United in recent weeks. They continued the defence of their Intermediate Cup title with a comprehensive 5-0 win against Lurgan Town last weekend and have already defeated Armagh City this season at Holm Park – winning 1-0 in December thanks to a Ronan Young goal.

The Eagles are not safe from the threat of the dreaded drop just yet as they will have one eye on results of both Dollingstown and Sport & Leisure this weekend. Armagh have not been in action since their 3-1 defeat to Newington two weeks ago, making it six games without a win dating back to the first week of January.

Sport & Leisure Swifts v Portstewart (venue: Glen Road Heights; kick-off: 3pm)

The West Belfast Swifts are currently rooted to the bottom of the table after a tenth straight league defeat against league leaders Tobermore United two weeks previously. Packie McAllister’s men still have two games in hand on their relegation rivals to make to make up the four point gap if they are to retain their league status ahead of their transition into becoming Belfast Celtic next season.

The previous meeting between the sides this season at Portstewart was marred by the abandonment and subsequent suspension of multiple players but they come together again with Johnny Law’s Seahawks only a point off breaking into the top half of the table. The North Coast side lost 2-0 to Queens in their last league game but progressed to the semi-finals of the Intermediate Cup last Saturday with a 3-2 win over Newbuildings.

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