Civil Service 2nds 1 v 3 Ballynahinch United 2nds

The Swifts picked up a hard won three points at the Civil Service playing fields on Tuesday 16th April.

In the previous week’s drawn game they had faced a Kilroot team containing a lot of first teamers and this was no different however securing the three points was made all the sweeter by having to play at their very best.

In the first half Gareth Bingham saw a shot cannon off the cross bar while Darren Fitzsimmons was blown for offside after he touched in Aaron McCaffrey’s goal bound shot. Civil Service were at their most dangerous from corner kicks and the Swifts defence of Gibson, Majury, Craig McMullan and King had to work hard while John McMenamin in goals made a number of important saves and catches. He could do little when the Civil Service took the lead on the stroke of half time.

In the second half a more determined Swift took the field and they equalised after 5 minutes when Greg Allison broke free down the left and crossed brilliantly for Fitzsimmons to score.

Midway through the half substitute Ian McMullan was introduced and he made an immediate impact when he scored with a header from Fitzsimmons right wing cross.

Graham McMullan was introduced on the right wing and he enjoyed some decent possession and late in the game he was fouled on the outside of the penalty area. Civil Service had at this stage got back into the game and the Swifts needed a goal for a cushion. Danny Reid in one of his all too rare appearances scored with an outstanding right foot shot that beat the Civil Service keeper all ends up to sail into the roof of the net.

This was an excellent performance with the younger players such as McMenamin, Graham McMullan and Greg Allison putting in stellar performances.

The next few weeks will be frenetic for the Swifts with a stream of Saturday and midweek games to the end of the season.

Last Saturday goals from Darren Fitzsimmons and Aaron McCaffrey secured a 2-2 draw away to St Teresa’s.

Bloomfield 3 v 2 Ballynahinch United

United travelled to Grand Parade, Belfast on Saturday for this league encounter with Bloomfield one of the form teams in the division. United’s line up was enhanced with the return of Scot Brashaw, Jay Smyth and Adam Herron however an astonishing six first teamers in JJ Carlisle, goalkeeper Brian McMullan, Craig Bowman, Johnny Hunter, Scott McKibbin and Alan Patterson were absent for a variety of reasons. Into the line-up stepped goalkeeper John McMenamin for his competitive debut and new signing Steven Kennedy with both acquitting themselves very well.

The game started evenly with both teams settling into the heavy conditions but soon United’s cause was set back by the dismissal of Ian Boal for an innocuous challenge near the touch line which deserved no more than a yellow card and a stern warning.

Soon after Bloomfield took the lead but United had got themselves reorganised and equalised through Steven Kennedy who scored on his debut with a fine drive after some skilful foot work.

United had a number of other scoring opportunities through Brashaw and Herron but they failed to take them.

In the second half United grafted hard but the game became a war of attrition with the referee continually taking centre stage dishing out yellow cards like confetti generally for the most trivial tackles while more severe challenges went unpunished.

Bloomfield nudged themselves in front midway through the half but as the game was entering its closing stages up popped Ian McMullan to head the equaliser. By this stage United had been reduced to nine players following another dismissal.

The game went into extra time and it looked as if United had done enough to win a point but again the referee intervened playing an astonishing ten minutes of additional time and it was in the 99th minute that Bloomfield scored the winner from a free kick.

This was a disappointing outcome for United however the performance of debutants John McMenamin in goals and Steven Kennedy was a welcome boost.

The Albion 4 v 2 Strangford IIs

NEWCASTLE & DISTRICT AMATEUR FOOTBALL LEAGUE

Davy Teggarty’s young Albion side have been on a good run of form in recent weeks and so it continued this week with a fine performance against a strong Strangford reserve side.

The afternoon didn’t start too well when experienced keeper Johnny McGreevy dislocated a finger in the warm up and had to go to hospital. Luckily teenage central defender John McMenamin is a handy goalkeeper and he deputised.

The Albion started brightly and with five minutes gone, Graeme McMullan had the ball in the Strangford net only for it to be disallowed for what was apparently offside.

The first goal came after 35 minutes and at that point slightly against the run of play because the visitors had got back into the game. Live-wire Stuart Wilcox took a pass from Ross Bingham in the centre of the park and he unleashed a long range shot which deceived the Strangford keeper in the strong sunshine to go into the net.

Wilcox who was causing all sorts of problems with his strong running made it 2-0 on 55 minutes when he latched onto a loose ball in the six yard box to score. Moments after the restart Alan Massey intercepted the ball in centre midfield after a good tackle from Ciaran Bonner and he fired a twenty yard shot into the net which went in off a post.

With The Albion firmly in the driving seat, Steven Bridges spurned a number of chances – indeed he could and should have had a hat trick.

On 70 minutes a mix up between Bingham and Massey let Strangford in to make it 3-1 and moments later more poor defending saw the deficit reduced to one with the score at 3-2. Some last ditch defending from King and Shaun Bonner saved the day as the Albion struggled. However a long clearance was picked up by Gareth Scott who passed to Wilcox and the midfielder stormed into the penalty area to score an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net.

This was another excellent display from this young team who are working very hard for their manager and each other.