SML round-up: Carniny and Thistle in Top Four final on Friday night

This Friday sees the second final of the year as Ahoghill Thistle and Carniny Rangers do battle in the Mortgage Solutions Top Four Final.

These sides made it to the final by defeating Harryville Homers and Clough Rangers respectively in the semi finals and both will be hoping they can claim the first silverware of the season.

Woodside FC captain Paul Dunlop receives a new football kit from Ciaran McMichael and Michelle Spurgeon, of Bally Bingo. INBT 03-909H

Woodside FC captain Paul Dunlop receives a new football kit from Ciaran McMichael and Michelle Spurgeon, of Bally Bingo. INBT 03-909H

Thistle under the guidance of manager Stewart McDonald have become a real force in Division One, but this final will be the first major final the club has competed in.

Sean Ward has been a revelation in goal for Thistle since he signed from Larne while their back four is very strong with Davy Calderwood, Gareth Dickey and Gareth Hill bringing a wealth of experience, along with Captain Jason Stewart and David Campbell.

In the engine room for Thistle is Daniel Brown while George Courtney and David Drummond are the main supply line for Thistle but both are also very capable of chipping in with important goals.

Up top the return to fitness of Neil Lowry has added even more threat for Thistle whose normal front two of Matt Boyd and David Tennant have hit 23 goals between them this season.

Carniny have been suffering a barren run in terms of trophies but they will be hoping that they can win their first trophy since May 2012.

In goals Carniny have had problems this season with the new number one James Gracey sometimes unavailable, but they will be hoping he is available for the Final.

Cup tied Alan Norton will be a big loss for Carniny, but in Craig Greene and Matthew Coulter they solid replacements. Ryan Balmer adds extra strength to the Carniny defence and his marauding runs from the back will also be a big danger to Thistle.

In the middle of the park Carniny will be hoping the loss of Fraser Young won’t hinder them too much and they will be hoping that Alan Telford can find his top form to give them the creative spark, while Ryan Bamber and Tyler Caulfield provide Carniny with a real powerful midfield.

Carniny have a wealth of talent in the forward department with Michael McQuitty, Dean Dunlop, Johnny Spence, Darren Kidd and Rico Wylie all capable of being match winners, and with new addition Shane Donnelly impressing on his debut Carniny will surely be a major threat to Thistle.

The final takes places at Ballymena Showgrounds Main Arena with a 7.45pm Kick Off.

Entry is by Slemish Drive only and entry fee will be £3.


Churchill United 2, Raceview 2 (Raceview win 4-3 on penalties): The McGavock brothers Lee and Denver were the heroes for Raceview in this tie against North West Junior League side Churchill, with Lee saving two penalties in the shootout before his brother Denver converted the winning spot kick.

Despite being in control Raceview never really threatened until they opened the scoring seven minutes before the break.

Ian Millar played a short corner to Mark Watson and he cut in before driving the ball home to make it 1-0 at the break.

The home side came out fired up in the second half taking the game to Raceview and on the hour mark they equalised when they capitalised on a defensive error for Raceview.

Raceview weathered this pressure by the home side and started to be more of a danger themselves as they game wore on, and they got themselves back in front with 10 minutes to go.

Timmy Cunningham played the ball into the box and found Ryan Logan who controlled and fired past the helpless Churchill keeper for what looked to be the winner, but the home side weren’t to be denied as they struck the equaliser in the fourth minute of injury time to make the score 2-2 and force the game into extra time.

In the shoot out Raceview keeper Lee McGavock brilliantly saved two spot kicks before brother Denver McGavock stepped up and scored the winning spot kick to send Raceview into the last 16.

Harryville Homers 6, Belfast Celtic YM 1: Holders Homers showed once again they won’t give their Junior Cup crown up lightly with this convincing win over unbeaten Belfast and District League side Belfast Celtic YM.

Homers opened the scoring on 23 minutes when Ryan Stewart smashed home a free kick from 20 yards put after Alan Rainey was fouled.

Six minutes later it was 2-0 to Homers when Jason Logan cut in from the left and his shot was parried by the Celtic keeper but rebounded off one of his defenders and ended up in the corner of the net.

Homers were in control now and made it 3-0 when Jason Logan played the ball to Alan Rainey and he smashed the ball home from just inside the box. Homers finished the half with a four goal lead when Alan Rainey raced down the right and his cross was diverted into his own net by a Celtic defender.

Celtic got a goal back soon after the restart but Homers regained their four goal cushion with 20 minutes to go when David Nicholl slipped in Gary Bonnes who turned his man before firing home.

Darren Campbell then came off the bench for Homers and made it 6-1 with eight minutes to go when he fired home from the penalty spot after he was fouled.


firmus energy Division One: All Saints OB 6, FC Penarol 1; Ahoghill Thistle 1, FC Antrim 1; Ballykeel 2, Michelin 1; Connor FC 1, Carniny Rangers 1; Clough Rangers 3, FC Moylena 4.

firmus energy Division Two: Braid United 2, Newpark Olympic 5; Cloughmills 4, Galgorm Blues 5; Cullybackey Olympic 3, Carnlough Swifts 5; St Comgalls 2, Ahoghill Rovers 2; Seven Towers 3, Riverdale 1; Waveney Swifts 3, Holywell 3.

CGRSC Sammy Moore Cup Quarter Final, first leg: Rectory Rovers 3, Sporting Ballymoney 4.

CGRSC Sammy Moore Cup Semi Final, first leg: Templepatrick 7, Wakehurst Star 5.

firmus energy Division Three: Atletico Antrim 0, Cushendall 5; Woodside 1, Randalstown 3.


Saturday, January 17 (10.15am) - firmus energy Division One: All Saints OB v Abbeyview (Showgrounds 5); Harryville Homers v Connor FC (Wakehurst 2); FC Antrim v Clough Rangers (Forum); FC Moylena v Michelin (Forum); Raceview v Ballykeel (Broughshane)

firmus energy BSML Division Two: Ahoghill Rovers v Glenravel (Ahoghill); Cloughmills v Carnlough Swifts; Galgorm Blues v Braid United (Galgorm); Lisnafillan Swifts v Newpark Olympic; Seven Towers v Holywell (Showgrounds 5); St Comgalls v Cullybackey Olympic; Waveney Swifts v Riverdale (Waveney 2).

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