SML round-up: Clough stay in hunt for top four finish

Clough Rangers took a massive step towards a top four finish in the firmus energy Ballymena Saturday Morning League at the weekend.

Jordan Leighton’s late goal gave Clough a 2-1 victory at Ballykeel to edge them closer towards a place in next season’s Top Four competition.

A Moylena FC player gets his pass away despite the attentions of a Harryville Homers opponent. INBT 14-928H

A Moylena FC player gets his pass away despite the attentions of a Harryville Homers opponent. INBT 14-928H

FIRMUS ENERGY DIVISION ONE

Ballykeel 1 Clough Rangers 2: Clough started bright in the blustery conditions with Jordan Leighton racing clear early on only for Ballykeel keeper Stephen Watson saving well at his feet.

The opening goal came on 22 minutes when a deep corner from Jordan Leighton found Steven Gage at the back post and he headed back across goal and into the roof of the net.

Ballykeel almost drew level before the break but Clough keeper Ally Nicholl brilliantly tipped a Justin Rowe shot onto the post.

Ballykeel started the second half in control with Justin Rowe pulling the strings in the middle of the park and their dominance paid just before the hour mark when they drew level.

A Barry Bonnes corner wasn’t dealt with by the Clough defence and in the resulting goal mouth scramble Ricky Culbertson poked the ball home.

With 18 minutes to go the crucial third goal was scored and it came for Clough.

David Houston crossed from the left and Jordan Leighton arrived late to fire the ball past Stephen Watson and put his side back in front again.

Abbeyview 0, Ahoghill Thistle 3: Thistle continue the chase for the Division One title with this win helped by three second half goals but were made to fight all the way by a resolute Abbeyview side.

The only real goal chance of the first half came on the half hour when Matt Boyd went on a solo run before unleashing a shot from 25 yards which clipped the bar.

The game changed after 3 minutes of the second half when David Brown for the second time in two weeks powered home a header from a Alan Moore corner kick.

Two minutes later it was two nil to Thistle when David Tennant played in Alan Moore who had his first shot parried out by Abbeyview keeper Keith Fearson but he followed up to slot home Thistles second goal. Thistle continued to press Abbeyview and were deprived of a third goal when Steve Bruce got back on the Abbeyview goal line to clear a goal bound David Tennant shot with his keeper beaten.

Abbeyview were given a life line when Craig Davis was brought down in the penalty area and they were awarded a penalty kick. David McWilliams took the penalty kick but Thistles keeper Sean Ward saved the ball with his feet and also for the second week in a row pulled off another penalty save.

After this Thistle took control and added a third late on when Paul Aioken broke free and has his shot well blocked by Keith Fearson but the rebound fell to Matt Boyd who slotted home from close range and ensure the three points went to Thistle.

ACE CUP

All Saints OB 4, FC Antrim 0: Saints got the perfect start when Emmet Kerr played in Stephen Sexton who beat the offside trap before racing clear winning and slotting into the empty net. Antrim players protested about the offside and had a man dismissed for dissent.

Three minutes later Saints doubled their lead when Gordon Dillon broke clear and brilliantly rounded Martin Campbell in the Antrim goal before squaring the ball back for Stephen Sexton to fire into the corner of the net.

Despite all the pressure it took Saints until 25 minutes from time when Barry Hamill curled a free kick into the bottom corner of the net from 20 yards out.

In the dying minutes Emmet Kerr slipped in Philip Lynn to smash the ball into the bottom corner and make it 4-0 sending Saints into the last four. Harryville Homers 3, FC Moylena 0: The first goal came via a slick move. The ball was passed in crisply to Jasin Magill who laid the ball off to Paul McNeill who controlled and fired into the bottom corner midway through the half.

The Second came when Jasin Magill headed in at the back post unopposed from a Ricky Nicholl corner continuing his goal scoring spree and give his side a two goal cushion at the break.

Goal of the game went to the red hot Jasin Magill. He picked up the ball midway in the Antrim sides half, then set off on an unstoppable, mazy run, passing several opponents before thumping past the helpless keeper from 20 yards out.

Homers now take on All Saints OB in the semi-finals, with Carniny awaiting the winners of the Clough Rangers v Ahoghill Thistle quarter-final tie in the last four.

O’KANE CUP FINAL

The abandoned County Antrim Post O’Kane Cup Final featuring Harryville Homers v Clough Rangers will be held on Saturday 11th April at Broughshane with a 1.30pm kick-off.

FIRMUS ENERGY DIVISION TWO

Lisnafillan Swifts 3, Riverdale 2: The visitors settled quickest in the windy conditions taking the lead on 12 minutes when Colin Moore slotted home from the spot after Dean Wright had been fouled.

The home side slowly started to settle in the game and on 25 minutes they drew level when Dan McCloskey found the net direct from a wind assisted corner on the right.

Lisnafillan were on top now and Dan McCloskey got his second of the game and gave his side the left when he unleashed a left foot thunderbolt from 25 yards into the top corner.

Just before the break Lisnafillan made it 3-1 when a deep corner from Dan McCloskey found Ronan McCloskey, he beat two men before squaring for Tiernan Coyle to score from close range.

Sixteen minutes from time Riverdale set up a grandstand finish when Dean Wright swept home a Ryan Thomas cross.

OTHER RESULTS

Ace Cup quarter-final: Carniny Rangers 7, FC Penarol 1.

George McAuley Cup Quarter Finals: Ahoghill Rovers 3, Cloughmills 2; Braid United 2, Newpark Olympic 2 (Newpark Won 4-2 on Penalties).

firmus energy Division Two: Carnlough Swifts 3, Galgorm Blues 3; Seven Towers 1, Holywell 2; Waveney Swifts 0, Glenravel 4.

firmus energy Division Three: Steadfast 1 Cushendall 3; Rectory Rovers 3, Sporting Ballymoney 1; Wakehurst Star 2, Randalstown 2.

FIXTURES

Wednesday, April 1 - Irish Junior Cup semi-final (7.45pm): Harryville Homers v Lower Shankill (Taylor’s Avenue, Carrickfergus).

Saturday, April 4 (10.15am) - firmus energy Division One: Harryville Homers v Raceview (Wakehurst 2).

firmus energy Division Two: Newpark Olympic v Carnlough Swifts.