Annagh United could move back to the top of the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League this weekend (c) Presseye

BLUEFIN SPORT PREMIER INTERMEDIATE LEAGUE: MATCHDAY 17 PREVIEW

With the league leaders not playing, there is a chance for someone else to take the reigns in the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League this weekend, we look ahead to all five fixtures.

Annagh United v Sport & Leisure Swifts (venue: Tandragee Road; kick-off: 3pm)

It’s a must win home game for Ciaran McGurgan’s Annagh United side if they are to keep their title hopes alive against struggling Sport and Leisure Swifts. With leaders Queens University not playing, there’s a chance to go level at the top of the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League table. They must bounce back from their 1-1 draw with Portstewart last week, with six games left of their promotion push but must do it without the experienced Michael Gault who is suspended alongside defender Jordan Campbell.

Packie McAllister’s Swifts are currently in a desperate rut and still four points adrift at the bottom of the third tier. Their only saving grace is that there are three games in hand over next placed Armagh City. The West Belfast side were convincingly beaten by Queens University at The Dub last Saturday as their five missing first team players remain suspended for another two games.

Banbridge Town v Portstewart (venue: Crystal Park; kick-off: 3pm)

Stuart King’s Banbridge Town recorded an impressive 5-1 win against Armagh City last weekend as there was two goals apiece for Stephen McCavitt and Matthew McCartan. It was the County Down side’s first win in six games dating back to January – they start the weekend in in sixth place. The reverse meeting between these clubs ended in a scoreless stalemate back in September at the North Coast.

The Seahawks from Portstewart have the opportunity to go level on points with their opponents with an away win this Saturday. Johnny Law’s side still have plenty of games in hand to move back into the top half of the table going into the final weeks of the season – they earned a credible draw against title chasing Annagh United in their last game.

Lisburn Distillery v Moyola Park (venue: New Grosvenor Park; kick-off: 3pm)

Back to back wins for the Whites have moved Distillery within six points of a potential playoff place but with games running out, it might just be a step too far for a side currently in fourth place in the table. They already have a number on Moyola Park this season, winning the previous meeting between the sides by a single goal back in December and go into this clash having beaten Dollingstown last Saturday on the road.

It was Moyola Park’s first defeat in eight games last Saturday, as they were beaten at home by Newington. However, a win tomorrow could potentially take them into the top half of the table and virtually assure safety from relegation from the NI Football League, they start the afternoon in seventh place.

Lurgan Celtic v Armagh City (venue: Knockramer Park; kick-off: 3pm)

There’s an important meeting of two county Armagh sides both at the wrong end of the Premier Intermediate League table as Lurgan Celtic host Armagh City. The Hoops are without a win in five games and need to pick up three points to avoid getting dragged into a potential relegation battle, they were defeated 2-0 by Tobermore United last Saturday.

Armagh City manger Joe Kerr will be well aware how perilously close they are to the bottom of the table and relegation – only Sport and Leisure Swifts sit below them in the standings but with the Eagles having played three games more. Their 5-1 defeat to Banbridge Town won’t have allayed any fears of the drop – it was their fifth consecutive defeat in the league in succession.

Tobermore United v Dollingstown (venue: Fortwilliam Park; kick-off: 3pm)

Adrian Whiteside knows that three points against Dollingstown on Saturday could take his Tobermore United side back to the top of the league table with six games left to play. They bounced back from their derby defeat to Moyola Park a fortnight ago with a 2-0 win against Lurgan Celtic last week, thanks to two penalties from Conor Kearns.

These two sides played out a 2-2 draw back in September, in what was Dollingstown’s first league point of the season since their return to the NI Football League. They are far from safe from the threat of relegation as they form part of a three team group battling to avoid the drop, albeit with a game in hand and better goal difference on nearest challengers Armagh City. The Dollybirds lost 2-1 to Lisburn Distillery last Saturday and will be looking to bounce back on their travels this weekend.

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