Lisburn Distillery's James Wright (©INPHO/Jonathan Porter)
Friday, 07 December 2018
The Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League returns with the first of a succession of matchdays throughout December.
Banbridge Town v. Sport & Leisure Swifts (venue: Crystal Park; kick-off 2pm)
Stuart King's Banbridge Town will be hoping to bring their recent cup form into this return to league action at Crystal Park.
Their last two outings have brought convincing victories over Bourneview YM and Sirocco Works, the former booking a place in the Boxing Day Bob Radcliffe Cup final against Dollingstown.
Sport & Leisure Swifts had a mixed bag of results during November, a big win over Moyola Park was countered by defeats to Annagh United and Newington but with neither side firing on all cylinders so far this season this is one game that could go either way.
Lisburn Distillery v. Lurgan Celtic (venue: New Grosvenor Stadium; kick-off 2pm)
Unbeaten at home all season, the Whites will be striving to continue that run at Ballyskeagh but they come up against a Lurgan Celtic that have won their last four on the road.
The Hoops go into the game a little out of match practice, their last outing was an Intermediate Cup defeat of Killyleagh YC in the middle of November thanks to goals from Peter McCann and Niall Lavery.
By contrast, Distillery are fresh from an Irish Cup defeat of Comber Rec. during which they raced into a three-goal lead only to be pegged back before clinching an extra-time winner courtesy of Matthew Ferguson.
Moyola Park v. Dollingstown (venue: Mill Meadow; kick-off 2pm)
The bottom two go head-to-head at Mill Meadow although it could be argued that at this relative early stage of the campaign that both are in a false position.
Due to ongoing work at Mill Meadow this is Moyola's first home game of the season across all competitions so that return to base alone might be enough to give them the edge over Dollingstown.
The Dollybirds have had a difficult start to life back in the third tier, with just a point to show for their efforts thus far.
Their cup form, by contrast, has been impressive. They will contest the Bob Radcliffe Cup decider on Boxing Day against Banbridge Town while, last month, defeated Glentoran II in the Intermediate Cup.
Portstewart v. Armagh City (venue: Mullaghacall; kick-off 2pm)
Another a great start to the campaign Portstewart have only picked up one point from their last three league games. There was also disappointment a week ago when they exited the Irish Cup at the hands of Maiden City.
However, after having completed the treble over the Eagles last season manager Johnny Law will be hoping that form carries over into Saturday's game.
Armagh, for their part, have been inactive for almost a month following a poor run of results which saw them exit every cup competition available to them.
But that last outing, a 2-0 league victory over Newington, was their first three points of what has been a difficult campaign to date. Perhaps that can herald an upturn in fortunes for Joe Kerr's charges?
Tobermore United v. Queen's University (venue: Fortwilliam Park; kick-off 2pm)
Third placed Tobermore United welcome leaders Queen's University to Fortwilliam Park for a game which could go a long way to deciding who finishes where come the end of the campaign.
It's the second meeting of the season between the sides. They last locked horns at the Dub in an Irish Cup tie back in early November, with Queen's winning 6-3 in a game which spawned a Chris Middleton hat-trick.
The Students are a point clear at the top with their only defeat coming at the hands of second placed Annagh United, who have two games in hand.
Tobermore have also only suffered one reversal, again to Annagh, and since then have gone onto record some impressive victories across all competitions. Indeed, they have a chance of cup glory later this month when, on Boxing Day, they contest the Craig Memorial Cup final against Maiden City.
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