Annagh United's Ben Eagle pictured with sponsor Alyn Spratt (c) Presseye

PREVIEW: BLUEFIN SPORT PREMIER INTERMEDIATE LEAGUE WEEK 5

We’re nearly a quarter of the way through the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League season and the race for promotion to the Championship is heating up as we look ahead to all the action.

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

Despite going into the weekend as leaders in the third tier, Ciaran McGurgan’s Annagh United suffered a disappointing Irish Cup exit to Belfast Celtic last weekend. They must pick themselves up and prepare for the visit of Bangor to County Armagh if they are to stay ahead of the pack, having also lost their last league outing to Dollingstown. Striker Ruari McDonald leads the goalscoring charts in the league with five goals to date so far, but Sean Mackle is suspended for this one.

Bangor progressed comfortably to the next round of the Irish Cup, as there were no shocks as Hugh Sinclair’s men cruised to a 5-1 win against Moneyslane away from home. It’s been a solid start for Bangor in their return to the division as two wins a defeat in their opening three outings, that defeat came in their most recent league game, four weeks ago, to Portstewart at the North Coast.

Limavady United v Banbridge Town (venue: Limavady Showgrounds; kick-off: 3pm)

The Roesiders have moved off the bottom of the of the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League since the last round of fixtures, the 3-0 win against Armagh City last month earned Mark Clyde his first league points as Limavady United manager. An upturn in form since that win has merited cup wins against Rosario (Intermediate Cup) and Aquinas (Irish Cup) in recent weeks, as they return to league action.

Banbridge Town make the trip to the North West still in search of their first league win of the season. They progressed to the fourth round of the Irish Cup thanks to a 2-1 win over Dunmurry Rec last Saturday, with goals from Conor Downey and James Costello. Stuart King’s side currently sit second bottom of the division, having only scored one league goal in their opening four games.

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

The Whites will not be taking their place in the next stage of the Irish Cup after defeat to Premier Intermediate League counterparts Dollingstown last Saturday, Stephen Hatfield’s side lost 2-1 at Planter’s Park. Focus returns to league action quickly though as the manager attempts to stem Distillery’s inconsistent league form, with the club currently in sixth place after only one win to date in the league campaign.

After a two week hiatus Moyola Park are back in action – they made light work of neighbours Desertmartin in the Craig Memorial Cup second round a fortnight ago – winning 9-0 with talisman Tiarnan Rafferty bagging five goals for himself. That win will be the boost Mervyn Pattison has needed after a dismal start to the season, they currently sit bottom of the NI Football League with only a single point to their name so far.

Portstewart v Newington (venue: Mullaghcall; kick-off: 2pm)

It’s second versus third in the North Coast, as two of the early pacesetters meet to test each other’s promotion credentials with the last two unbeaten starts on the line. Johnny Law’s Portstewart have two wins and two draws from their first quartet of league fixtures – the latest of which was the 2-0 win over Bangor last month.

Newington have been the surprise package of the Premier Intermediate League this season, with a 100% record to date – as they only are prevented from topping the table via goal difference. The surprise 3-0 defeat to East Belfast in the Irish Cup last Saturday brought to an end an impressive eleven game winning streak across all competitions this season.

Tobermore United v Dollingstown (venue: Fortwilliam Park; kick-off: 2pm)

It was a disappointing Irish Cup exit at home for Tobermore United last weekend as Adrian Whiteside's men lost 3-1 to Larne Tech OB. The ninth placed Mid-Ulster men are still without a league win this season going into the weekend's tie. Tobermore United's last league outing was in September, drawing 1-1 with Banbridge Town.

There was no such cup heartache for the Dollybirds as Stephen Uprichard's side defeated Lisburn Distillery at Planter's Park to progress to the next round of the competition. Two wins from their opening four league games have marked an encouraging start to the campaign for Dollingstown.