Newington's Padraig Scollay (Picture: PressEye.com)
Friday, 14 December 2018
The Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League is starting to pick up pace with a full round of fixtures lined up on Saturday.
Armagh City v. Queen's University (venue: Holm Park; kick-off 2pm)
The Eagles find themselves languishing second from bottom after a disappointing season that so far has only produced one win from six league outings.
A series of cup defeats in the early rounds has meant a stop-start campaign for City but now that a succession of league games are scheduled they will be hoping to introduce some much needed consistency into their form to lift them up the table.
But they could find it tough with this visit of leaders Queen's University. The Students are a point clear at the top with their only defeat coming at the hands of second placed Annagh United.
They had an unexpected free weekend seven days ago when their clash with Tobermore United fell foul of the weather but, prior to that, they demonstrated their prowess with a 4-1 defeat of Newington in the Irish Cup.
Dollingstown v. Lurgan Celtic (venue: Planters Park; kick-off 2pm)
Two of the bottom three go head-to-head at Planters Park with basement boys Dollingstown hoping for a better outcome than last week when they lost to fellow strugglers Moyola Park.
Indeed, the Dollybirds still await their first league win of the season. Even avoiding defeat would be an improvement given they have lost five out of six so far.
Despite this poor league form they have the Bob Radcliffe Cup final on Boxing Day to look forward to which, perhaps, points to an imminent upturn in fortunes.
Lurgan Celtic, up until last week's reversal at Ballyskeagh, had won their previous four games on the road and will be hoping that this form carries over for Saturday's short journey.
Moyola Park v. Lisburn Distillery (venue: Mill Meadow; kick-off 2pm)
After last week's triumphant return to Mill Meadow following recent improvement works at the ground Moyola will be hoping follow up with another three points at home to Lisburn Distillery.
First half goals from Tiarnan Rafferty and Kyle Beggs secured a much needed win for Mervyn Pattison's side but they might find the Whites a much tougher proposition than bottom of the table Dollingstown.
Distillery go into the game having lost just once in the league this season so far, and even that came way back in week one. The Whites are unbeaten in all competitions since Halloween, and will be full of confidence having swept Lurgan Celtic aside seven days ago thanks to two goals from the league's joint leading scorer Matthew Ferguson.
Newington v. Portstewart (venue: Solitude; kick-off 3pm)
Newington will be looking to bounce back from last week's Steel & Sons Cup quarter-final defeat to St. James' Swifts on penalties when Portstewart visit Solitude.
The Swans will be forgiven for thinking what might have been but will have to focus if they are to gain the points from their first 'home' game in two months against the visiting Seahawks who moved into third spot last weekend after a Saul McCaughan double handed them victory over Armagh City.
Portstewart don't travel well, however, and have only avoided defeat on the road once this season, an Irish Cup win over Lurgan Celtic early last month.
Sport & Leisure Swifts v. Annagh United (venue: Glen Road Heights; kick-off 2pm)
With a 100% start to the campaign thus far, Annagh United will be hoping to continue that run with this visit to Glen Road Heights.
But Ciaran McGurgan's side last took to the field a month ago so the Swifts will be hoping that lack of recent competitive match practice will work in their favour.
That said, Annagh's last outing was an Intermediate Cup John Uprichard hat-trick inspired thumping of ... Sport & Leisure Swifts!
Packie McAllister's charges will undoubtedly be looking to overturn that result but will need to reverse a run of form which, that game included, has saw them lose their last three on the bounce.
Tobermore United v. Banbridge Town (venue: Fortwilliam Park; kick-off 2pm)
Both sets of players will be forgiven for approaching this game with one eye on their respective forthcoming Boxing Day cup finals.
Tobermore face Maiden City in the Craig Memorial Cup decider while, in the Bob Radcliffe Cup, Banbridge will battle Dollingstown for the festive silverware.
But with little between the sides the three points will be keenly contested, with Town going into the encounter on the crest of a three match winning streak across all competitions although they do have to go back over two months for the last time they avoided defeat on the road.
United, on the other hand, will be keen to return to any sort of action after last week's clash with leaders Queen's University was the victim of a late postponement.
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