SML round-up: Thistle spring surprise to end Homers’ long unbeaten run

There was no doubting the main story of the weekend in the firmus energy Ballymena Saturday Morning League.

It came as Ahoghill Thistle sensationally defeated kingpins Harryville Homers 1-0 in the semi-final of the Mortgage Solutions Top Four Trophy - thereby ending the champions’ hopes of another clean sweep of all the trophies available.

David Fusco of Firmus Energy is pictured presenting Johnny Rice of Clough Rangers with the Ballymena SML Division 1 player of the month award, as Robert Crawford (Riverdale FC) receives the Division 2 player of the month award from Brian Montgomery, and Kieran O'Boyle (Wakehurst Start) receives the Division 3 player of the month award from Davy King. INBT37-207AC

David Fusco of Firmus Energy is pictured presenting Johnny Rice of Clough Rangers with the Ballymena SML Division 1 player of the month award, as Robert Crawford (Riverdale FC) receives the Division 2 player of the month award from Brian Montgomery, and Kieran O'Boyle (Wakehurst Start) receives the Division 3 player of the month award from Davy King. INBT37-207AC

MORTGAGE SOLUTIONS TOP FOUR SEMI-FINAL

Ahoghill Thistle 1, Harryville Homers 0: A second half goal from Ryan Sands was enough for Thistle to see off holders Harryville Homers and send them into the final.

With both teams having failed to convert earlier chances, Thistle’s pressure finally paid off midway through the second half when a deep cross from Paul Aiken deceived Homers keeper Ryan Martin and left Ryan Sands with a header into an empty net.

This shook Homers up and three minutes later a Darren Campbell free kick was brilliantly saved by Thistle keeper Steven French and from the resulting corner, Alan Rainey fired against the crossbar and the danger was cleared.

The closest Homers came to drawing level came in the dying minutes when a partially cleared corner kick fell to Paul McNeill and he volleyed the ball through a ruck of players but French did well to hold the ball on the line as Thistle held out to seal a place in the Top Four final.

This result ends an unbelievable run for Harryville Homers which seen them play in an astonishing 15 domestic finals in a row and also inflicts on them their first defeat in any competition since May 2013.

COUNTY ANTRIM POST O’KANE CUP

Riverdale 0, All Saints OB 4: The deadlock wasn’t broken until just after the hour mark when subs Emmet Kerr and Gavin Burnside combined to lay the ball off 20 yards out for David Fusco who side footed the ball home for the opener and a goal on his Saints debut.

Saints took control and made it 2-0 20 minutes from time when a corner from Barry Hamill found Gavin Burnside unmarked at the back post and he hammered the ball home from 10 yards out.

Peter McReynolds then finished from close range after good work from substitute Aaron Keenan.

Saints sealed a good victory with three minutes to go when Gavin Burnside flicked the ball up for McReynolds to head home his side’s fourth to set up a third round tie with Cullybackey Olympic.

FIRMUS ENERGY DIVISION ONE

Carniny Rangers 3, FC Antrim 1: Carniny scored on 39 minutes after Darren Kidd’s cross from the right was finished off by Jonny Spence.

Ten minutes into the second half Kidd added number two but newly-promoted FC Antrim didn’t give up and got a goal back with ten minutes to play when Aaron Scott netted from the penalty spot.

James Gracey in the home goal remained unflustered and from one of his clearances Richard Reid scored in the final minute to ensure the win.

FIRMUS ENERGY DIVISION TWO

Cullybackey Olympic 2, Glenravel 1: In the battle of two newly-promoted sides, Glenravel struck first when Cullybackey failed to clear a Gordy Dillon corner and Caolan McCambridge scored a good goal.

Within two minutes of the restart Olympic were level.

Kris Nicholl back after a year out, side stepped an oncoming defender and thundered a shot against the crossbar, and Ross Steele followed up to roll the ball over the line.

With 20 minutes to go Cullybackey scored the winner as Steele flicked the ball on for the tireless Justin Bell to run on to and lob over the keeper.

FIRMUS ENERGY DIVISION THREE

Wakehurst Star 5, Randalstown 1: Star drew first blood when Jason Connolly swung a free kick in, Jonny Fulton flicked on and captain, Stuart McCartney forced the ball over the line with 16 minutes gone.

Another Connolly set piece - this time from the opposite side - was poorly dealt with and Neil Gage slammed home from inside the penalty are to make it 2-0 on 24 minutes.

The hosts went 3-0 ahead through Kieran O’Boyle on 52 minutes as his low drive from outside the box found the bottom left hand corner.

Star grabbed the fourth on 59 minutes as Randalstown goalkeeper John Scott’s poor free kick dropped to Jason Connolly who stepped in to side foot a volley home from the half way line as the ‘keeper scrambled back across goal.

The visitors got a goal back on 64 minutes through Andy Higham who looped the ball over Kyle Henry.

Randalstown were awarded a penalty following a hand-ball. Andy Campbell took responsibility ahead of usual kick taker David Waddell but fired over the bar with his left foot.

The Reds’ fate was sealed on 81 minutes as Troy Ramsey stole the ball in midfield, played a neat one-two with Connolly and released Darren McNeilly who picked his spot to make it 5-1.

OTHER RESULTS

County Antrim Post O’Kane Cup round two: Connor FC 9, Carnlough Swifts 0.

firmus energy Division One: Ballykeel 4, FC Moylena 2; Abbeyview 7, Michelin 1; FC Penarol 0, Raceview 3.

firmus energy Division Two: Ahoghill Rovers 4, Lisnafillan Swifts 1; Galgorm Blues 3, Seven Towers 1; Holywell 3, Cloughmills 1; Newpark Olympic 4, St Comgalls 2; Waveney Swifts 3, Braid United 1.

firmus energy Division Three: Cushendall 4, Rectory Rovers 0; Templepatrick 0, Woodside 2.

FIXTURES

Saturday, September 13 - Irish Junior Cup round one (1.30pm): Clough Rangers v Broadway Swifts (Clough); Ligoniel WMC v Raceview; 3rd Bangor OB v Harryville Homers; Valley Rangers Res v FC Antrim; Randalstown v 43rd OB.

County Antrim Post O’Kane Cup round three (10.15am): Sporting Ballymoney v Braid United; Glenravel v Waveney Swifts (Dunfane 1).

firmus energy Division One: All Saints OB v Carniny Rangers (Showgrounds 5); Connor v Michelin; Abbeyview v FC Penarol (Forum); Ballykeel v Ahoghill Thistle.

firmus energy Division Two: Ahoghill Rovers v Cloughmills (Ahoghill); Carnlough Swifts v Newpark Olympic; Riverdale v Galgorm Blues (Wakehurst 2); St Comgalls v Lisnafillan Swifts.

firmus energy Division Three: Templepatrick v Cushendall FC (Forum); Rectory Rovers v Wakehurst Star (Waveney 2); Steadfast v Atletico Antrim (Galgorm).