SML round-up: Challengers close in as leaders drop points

With no Junior Cup or Shield matches at the weekend, the full focus of firmus energy Ballymena Saturday Morning League teams teams was the quest for league points.

In the top division, leaders Carniny were held to a 2-2 draw at Ballykeel, with nearest challengers Ahoghill Thistle and Harryville Homers moving to within a point of the leadership.

David Fusco of Firmus Energy is pictured presenting Jordon Kenny of Ballykeel FC (Division 1) with the BSML Player of the Month Award. Looking on are Stephen Morgon (Carnlough Swifts, Division 2), John Smith (on behalf of Tyler McAuley, Steadfast, Division 3) and Brian Montgomery (Ballymena Saturday Morning League). INBT46-214AC

David Fusco of Firmus Energy is pictured presenting Jordon Kenny of Ballykeel FC (Division 1) with the BSML Player of the Month Award. Looking on are Stephen Morgon (Carnlough Swifts, Division 2), John Smith (on behalf of Tyler McAuley, Steadfast, Division 3) and Brian Montgomery (Ballymena Saturday Morning League). INBT46-214AC

In Division Two, Newpark Olympic leapfrogged Galgorm Blues at the summit after winning the clash of the top two.

FIRMUS ENERGY DIVISION ONE

Ballykeel 2, Carniny Rangers 2: Despite the volume of rain a couple of days before, the Ballykeel pitch was in excellent condition for the visit of Carniny Rangers, who welcomed Ryan Bamber to their starting eleven for the first time this season following his recovery from a leg break.

After a slow start Dean Dunlop was first on the score sheet on 40 minutes after glancing a header past Steven Watson from Ryan Balmer’s free kick to give Carniny a half time lead.

Ricky Culbertson’s team talk had an immediate effect as his side levelled instantly after the break. Barry Bonnes had time and space in midfield to pick out Stevie McKay who had the freedom of the Carniny penalty box and he made no mistake from eight yards out.

This gave the home side fresh impetus and on 58 minutes they took the lead after Jordan Kenny’s ball from the left was collected by Justin Rowe whose shot made its way into the net off James Gracey’s left hand post.

Carniny’s persistence was rewarded in time added on when Frazer Young instigated the move which saw Michael McQuitty receive the ball in the box before picking out Leslie McCaughern in front of goal. The Carniny skipper netted to give both sides a share of the points after a thrilling second half.

Ahoghill Thistle 3, Raceview 1: This game started at a frantic pace with Raceview hitting the bar inside 10 minutes.

Raceview went in front after 20 minutes with a bullet header from Reece Kernohan.

Thistle got level before the break when a cross from Alan Moore was diverted into his own net by a Raceview defender.

The second half saw Thistle dominate but they struggled to break down a resolute Raceview defence until Daniel Brown headed home a Colin Cory corner kick.

Brown then made sure of the three points when he bundled home from close range after Dean Adams spilled a Paul McBurney corner kick as Thistle sealed a deserved victory.

Harryville Homers 13, FC Penarol 0: Homers once again showed they will be very hard to stop in their quest for a third successive league title.

Captain Gary Bonnes lit the touch paper in the seventh minute when his controlled header found the bottom corner of the net with Jason Logan claiming the assist. It was the same combination for the second as Jason Logan once again provided the ammunition for Gary Bonnes to convert.

With only twelve minutes played a Paul McNeill right foot rocket from the edge of the box left the Penarol keeper flat footed.

The fourth goal followed soon after as Ryan Stewart’s driven cross was turned it at the back post by Ian Russell - the centre-back’s first goal in four seasons. Fellow defender David Gibson, was next onto the score sheet as his diving header found the bottom corner.

Gary Bonnes scored his side’s sixth, finishing off a Marcus Spratt through ball and completing a hat trick of hat tricks for the inform striker in the process.

Jason Logan soon made it 7-0 and in scoring this goal saw Homers rack up 100 goals already this season. Homers added two more quickfire goals before the interval through another Gary Bonnes header and a Paul McNeill strike to finish of the team goal of the game.

With the game over as a contest, the hosts ensured the second half wasn’t a damp squib as Gary Bonnes scored his fifth, taking the team scoring into double figures for the sixth time this season, heading in a Marcus Spratt left foot cross.

Ryan Stewart became the third defender to score on the day with a trademark, sweet left foot strike, giving the shell shocked keeper no chance.

Paul McNeill completed his own hat trick as he toe poked home a cross from Jason Logan centre and then scored his fourth and the last of the game when he bundled in from close range.

Abbeyview 0, All Saints OB 3: Early Saints pressure paid off after 20 minutes when a good team move set Philip Lynn free down the right and his cross was headed home at the near post by Stephen Sexton.

Liam Cassley and Stephen Sexton both went close to doubling Saints lead before they eventual made it 2-0 eight minutes from the break. Ryan Wilkinson broke free and slipped in Cassley to slot home at the near post.

The second half started with Saints pressing forward once again but then both teams were reduced to 10 men after 10 minutes.

Saints made it 3-0 and put the game beyond doubt when a long through balk from Liam Cassley was raced onto by Stephen Sexton and he brilliantly placed the ball into the corner of the net.

In the dying minutes Abbeyview were reduced to 9 men as the game finished with Saints running out 3-0 winners.

FIRMUS ENERGY DIVISION TWO

Newpark Olympic 4, Galgorm Blues 1: Newpark started the day against the league leaders looking to overtake them at the summit and they got off to a great start when an Andy Smith pass played in William Davidson for him to toe poke home the opener.

Galgorm then settled and found the net on 25 minutes when the Newpark defence failed to clear their lines and Derek Montgomery punished them as he fired past Ryan Carson from 20 yards.

Newpark regained the lead on 42 minutes. A nice bit of skill from Jamie Nutter laid off Stephen Brown to lob the keeper from outside the box to send his side in 2-1 in front at the break.

Newpark picked up were they left off in the first half and made it 3-1 when an Andy Smith corner found Victor Gibson to volley home.

Late on Newpark put three goals between themselves and Galgorm when Stephen Kingsberry headed home a Rab Crawford cross to seal the victory for his side.

OTHER RESULTS

firmus energy Division One: Connor FC 2, FC Antrim 6; Michelin 1, Clough Rangers 1.

firmus energy Division Two: Braid United 6, Holywell 2; Carnlough Swifts 2, Waveney Swifts 3; Cullybackey Olympic 3, Cloughmills 4; Seven Towers 4, St Comgalls 1.

firmus energy Division Three: Atletico Antrim 1, Woodside 4; Cushendall 4, Steadfast 0; Randalstown 3, Sporting Ballymoney 5; Rectory Rovers 3, Templepatrick 1.

FIXTURES

Saturday 15th November (10.15am) - firmus energy Division One: All Saints OB v Ahoghill Thistle (Showgrounds 5); Ballykeel v Raceview (Ballykeel); Carniny Rangers v Clough Rangers (Wakehurst 1); Connor FC v FC Moylena; FC Antrim v Abbeyview (Forum).

firmus energy Division Two: Ahoghill Rovers v Galgorm Blues (Ahoghill); Braid United v St Comgalls (Broughshane); Cullybackey Olympic v Newpark Olympic (Tober Park); Glenravel v Lisnafillan Swifts (Dunfane 1); Cloughmills v Holywell; Riverdale v Carnlough Swifts (Wakehurst 2); Waveney Swifts v Seven Towers (Waveney 2).

firmus energy Division Three: Atletico Antrim v Cushendall (Forum); Rectory Rovers v Sporting Ballymoney (Waveney 1); Steadfast v Wakehurst Star (Galgorm); Woodside v Randalstown (Wakehurst 6).