SML round-up: First trophy up for grabs on Friday night
THIS Friday night sees the first final of the season take place with Harryville Homers taking on All Saints OB for the Ballymena Mortgages Top Four Cup at the Ballymena Showgrounds.
Homers, under new management of Robert Duddy, have started the season in devastating form winning 18 out of 18 games in all competitions so far.
In Ryan Martin Homers have a superb keeper who on his day can be a match winner and in front of him the comeback of David Gibson from a horrible leg break has added strength to their defence as he has formed a formidable partnership with Ian Russell at the heart of the Homers rearguard.
In Midfield Darren Campbell and Gary Baird work well together forming the heartbeat of the Homers side and both have an eye for goal which could prove crucial in the final.
On the wings Homers have pace and trickery to burn in the form of Alan Rainey and Mark McKay who will undoubtedly cause Saints problems in the final.
The partnership of Paul McNeill and Gary Bonnes has blossomed from the start of the season with last years top scorer McNeill going from strength to strength scoring a lot of the crucial goals which have seen Homers start so well.
League Champions Saints have also started well to the season despite being littered with injuries to many key players who helped them win the league last season.
Saints will be hoping keeper Brian Martin can overcome his injury to take his place in the final team as like his opposite number for Homers he can prove a match winner.
At the back Saints will have to be on their game to stop Homers and the addition of Chris Wilkinson has added depth to their defensive options in which Colin Laffan and Michael Maybin have been mainstays.
Midfield has proved to be a problem position for Saints this season due to injuries to a lot of key players at different stages of the season and the loss of Ryan Lyness with a broken leg has been a major blow.
Up front like Homers is where Saints have an abundance of options with Gavin Burnside, Peter McReynolds and Aaron Wilkinson all capable of winning a game on their own on any given day.
All this makes for an enthralling final which is definitely not to be missed. Kick Off is 7.30 pm with the only entrance for spectators at the Slemish Drive Entrance beside the Ballymena United Sport and Social Club
CO ANTRIM JUNIOR SHIELD, ROUND THREE
Colin Valley 1, All Saints OB 3: Saints travelled to Poleglass to take on Crack Amateur League 2A side Colin Valley and despite falling behind Saints showed great character to comeback and win the game.
The journey didn’t seem to have much efect on Saints as they started the game brightly as Aaron Wilkinson broke clear rounded the home keeper and pulled the ball for Liam Cassley but a Valley defender nicked in and cleared the danger.
The home side then started to come more into the game and took the lead on 23 minutes when their centre forward rounded the Saints keeper to score after he had beat the offside trap.
This didn’t seem to effect Saints as they dug in and kept trying to play the football which had created the early chances for them and this paid dividends on 29 minutes when they drew level. Michael Maybin broke up a Valley attack and drove forward with the ball before slipping in Gavin Burnside wide on the right and his cross to the back post was fumbled by the home keeper into the path of Aaron Wilkinson who made no mistake from 10 yards.
Saints then got themselves in front four minutes before the break when good work by Joe Rocks down the right set Peter McReynolds free and he got to the by line before pulling the ball back for Gavin Burnside who found the corner of the net from just inside the box and send his side in 2-1 in front at the break.
With the home side pushing for a goal in the second half, Saints were always dangerous on the break and on one of these breaks they made it 3-1. Aaron Wilkinson cut in from the right and was fouled on the edge of the box.
Ryan Brady stepped up and curled a great free kick over the wall only for his attempt to be parried up in the air by the home keeper for Gavin Burnside to head from close range to secure Saints’ place in the last 32.
The wet weather during the week caused the postponement of the Michelin v Portaferry Rovers match which will be replayed this week.
In the other Shield match FC Moylena were beaten 2-1 by Rosemount Rec after missing two penalties which if they had scored them would have put them through to the 4th Round.
CO ANTRIM POST O’KANE CUP QUARTER-FINAL
Harryville Homers 1, Carniny Rangers 0 (aet): A scrambled goal from Gary Bonnes in the first period of extra time was enough to see Homers into the Semi Final at the expense of rivals Carniny.
The first chance came for Homers when Gary Bonnes curled an effort just wide from 20 yards out and then at the other end Ryan Bamber hit a great drive which just rose over the bar. As the half wore on the game became more open and Homers should have taken the lead on 32 minutes when David Gibson rose above the Carniny defence but he directed the Jason Stevenson corner just wide of the post.
At the other end Carniny went close when Leslie McCaughern crossed for Chris Dowie whose header was tipped round the post by Ryan Martin, Alan Gaston then headed over when well placed before the chance of the half came when Chris Dowie was tackled by a Homers defender and the ball fell to Stephen Greene but with the goal gaping he hit the ball straight at Martin as the half ended in stalemate.
The second half saw Homers take the game to Carniny and went close when Gary Bonnes headed over a cross from the ever dangerous Alan Rainey.
With Homers pushing Carniny were always dangerous on the break and on one of these breaks Chris Dowie flicked over the head of his marker but dragged his shot well wide when left one on one with Ryan Martin.
In the last minute Homers looked to have secured the win when a goal bound Gary Bonnes shot was somehow turned over the bar by Derek Reid as the game went into extra time.
The breakthrough came three minutes into extra time when a corner from Mark McKay caused havoc in the Carniny defence who tried numerous times to clear the ball before Gary Bonnes poked the ball over the line and although the ball was cleared the referee awarded a goal much to the disbelief of the Carniny players.
In the second period of extra time Carniny threw everything at Homers with Brett McLaughlin having a chance to equalise and then in the dying minutes Chris Dowie had a shot well blocked when well placed as Homers hung on to set up a semi final tie with Ahoghill Rovers.
ARKMEDIA DIVISION ONE
Shore Wanderers 6, North End Shamrocks 4: This topsy turvy game saw bottom of the table side Shore collect all three points in a 10 goal thriller against fellow strugglers North End.
Shore got off to a perfect start when they took the lead on five minutes when a slip in the Shamrocks defence let in Paul McCallin to fire home.
Seven minutes later another error in the Shamrocks defence let in Michael McWilliams down the right and he crossed for Ryan McNicholl to slot home at the back post and make it 2-0.
Shamrocks then applied a lot of pressure but Shore, despite being under the cosh, made the score 3-0 three minutes before the break when Aaron Scott found the top corner of the net with a thunderbolt from 25 yards.
North End came flying out of the blocks in the second half and within 12 minutes they reduced the deficit to just one.
First Damien McGarry rose highest to head home a Stephen Donnelly corner and then six minutes later another corner kick, this time from Paul Donegan, was again met by Damien McGarry but this time his header was blocked but he was on hand to stab home the rebound.
Shore then were gifted a fourth goal on the hour mark when a back pass from a Shamrocks defender bobbled and rolled over the foot of Aaron Wilson in goals and into the net.
Soon after Shore restored their three goal cushion when Paul McCallin broke down the right and crossed for Mark Anthony McNicholl to bundle home from close range.
This again didn’t stop North End fighting back as they made it 5-3 when a Paul Donegan free kick found the corner of the net after taking a deflection off a Shore defender and then Sean Norris set up a nervy last 10 minutes when he turned home a Gerard Spurgeon header to make it 5-4.
Francis Neeson somehow prevented Shamrocks from drawing level in stoppage time when he turned an Aaron Kerr header over the bar, Shore then dealt with the corner and broke clear down the left with Geoff McNicholl who crossed for Ryan McNicholl who controlled and fired home to make it 6-4 and seal all three points for Shore and secure what could be a crucial result in the relegation battle come May.
ArkMedia Division One: Ahoghill Thistle 0, Clough Rangers 0; Randalstown Sky Blues 6, Dunloy Athletic 0.
ArkMedia Division Two: Cushendall 0 Abbeyview 1; Cullybackey Olympic 4, Atletico Antrim 2; Holywell 3, Galgorm Blues 6; Inver Athletic 2, Randalstown 2.
ArkMedia Division Three: Glenravel 2, Lisnafillan Swifts 4; Templepatrick 3, Woodside 4.
Friday 30th November (7.30pm) - Ballymena Mortgages Top Four Final : All Saints OB v Harryville Homers (Showgrounds).
Saturday 1st December - Co Antrim Junior Shield 3rd Round (1.30pm): Michelin v Portaferry Rovers.
ArkMedia Division One (10.15am): Carniny Rangers v Randalstown Sky Blues (Wakehurst 6); Clough Rangers v FC Moylena (Clough); Dunloy Athletic v North End Shamrocks; FC Penarol v Ahoghill Thistle (Showgrounds 5); Shore Wanderers v Ahoghill Rovers (Forum).
ArkMedia Division Two: Ballykeel v Cullybackey Olympic; Carnlough Swifts v Holywell; Cloughmills Thistle v Abbeyview; Cushendall v Inver Athletic; FC Antrim v Galgorm Blues (Forum); Randalstown v Atletico Antrim; Seven Towers v Braid United (Showgrounds 4).
CGRSC Sammy Moore Cup 1st Round 1st leg: Newpark Olympic v Wakehurst Star (Forum).
CGRSC Sammy Moore Cup 1st Round 2nd leg: Connor FC  v Lisnafillan Swifts  (Connor);
Templepatrick  v St Comgalls  (Forum); Steadfast  v Raceview Athletic  (Galgorm); Wakehurst Athletic  v Waveney Swifts  (Wakehurst 3); Woodside  v FC Bayern Money  (Wakehurst 4).
ArkMedia Division Three: Glenravel v Riverdale (Waveney 2).
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Weather for Ballymena
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 4 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North west