Ahoghill Thistle drew first blood in the first of this season’s firmus energy Saturday Morning League clashes with Harryville Homers.
But by the end of the week, Robert Duddy’s men had recovered from their 5-2 midweek humbling to regain top spot in the table, albeit with a game more played than Thistle.
FIRMUS ENERGY DIVISION ONE
Ahoghill Thistle 5, Harryville Homers 2: It was the Thistle who started brightly and they went in front when a David Tennant shot was only parried by Alex McCosh and George Courtney reacted quickest to fire home the rebound.
This goal drove Thistle on and they soon went 2-0 up after a cross field ball was turned into his own net by a Homers defender.
Thistle round off a great first half performance just before the break when they made it 3-0. Gavin Kernohan clipped over a corner kick and the ball fell to David Tennant 18 yards out and he smashed a volley into the net giving McCosh no chance.
Just before the hour mark Homers got themselves back in the game when Gary Bonnes fired the ball home in a goal mouth scramble.
Soon after the deficit was back to only one when Ryan Stewart found the corner of the net with a shot from 18 yards out.
The moment which changed the game came 20 minutes from time. Paul Aiken pressured a back pass and the ball broke to him before he ran into the box only to be pulled down by the Homers keeper. A penalty was awarded with keeper McCosh receiving his marching orders.
Matt Boyd stepped up and coolly slotted home from 12 yards giving stand in keeper Steven French no chance.
Thistle took control and made it 5-2 when Ryan Curry brilliantly played in Paul Aiken who rounded Steven French to score and seal a superb victory for Thistle.
Clough Rangers 2, Carniny Rangers 3: The home side struck first before Carniny had time to settle with David Gage powering a header into the net from a corner kick in the fifth minute.
Carniny evened up the score in the 26th minute after Darren Kidd expertly flicked home Ryan Balmer’s left wing cross.
Two minutes later Dean Magill stepped out from defence and hammered a 30 yard shot into the top right corner of the net. Carniny added a third before half time when Frazer Young sent a free kick across goal where Darren Kidd superbly diverted the ball past Ally McIlroy with a neat header.
As the weather worsened in the second half Clough’s Robbie Sutherland netted after Carniny failed to clear the ball following a corner kick.
All Saints OB 4, Ballykeel 1: Saints took the lead on 13 minutes when Ryan Gregg slipped in Barry Hamill who broke beyond the Keel defence and unselfishly squared to Stephen Sexton to fire home.
Saints doubled their lead two minutes before the break when Ryan Wilkinson swung over a great corner which was headed in by a combination of Chris Wilkinson and Sexton.
Almost immediately Saints made it 3-0 when Barry Hamill played a great ball through for Philip Lynn who brilliantly controlled before squaring to Gavin Burnsdie to fire home.
Ballykeel were dealt another blow just before the hour mark when their keeper was sent off for pulling down Philip Lynn and 10 minutes later, Saints killed the game as a contest when Stephen Sexton picked out Gavin Burnside in the box and he fired past stand in keeper Ricky Culbertson.
Ballykeel got a late consolation when Lee Mark drove at the Saints defence on a counter attack and his deflected shot slipped past Brian Martin.
FIRMUS ENERGY DIVISION TWO
Seven Towers 3, Holywell 2: Holywell, in search of their first points of the season, took the lead on 20 minutes as John Majury worked the ball down the left and squared for Jeff McNicholl who scrambled the ball past Ciaran Cassley in the Towers goals.
Holywell scored a second goal on 55 minutes. Chris McIntyre swung over a corner kick from the left and found Caolan Rennison who headed home from eight yards out.
Towers hit back almost immediately when Ross Hunter found space on the right and he cut in before firing low into the corner of the net.
Fifteen minutes from time Towers drew level when Gary McIlroy fed the ball into Matt McAnally who turned his man and smashed the ball home.
Towers got what proved to be the winning goal when Chris Graham slipped in Gary McIlroy to slot past Seamus Melly.
FIRMUS ENERGY DIVISION THREE
Carniny Amateurs 1, St Comgalls 1:
After two wins out of two Saints came from behind to keep up their unbeaten start.
Just after the hour mark Carniny got their noses in front when Michael Balmer sent over a free kick which resulted in a Carniny player being pulled back and a penalty was awarded. Barry Simpson stepped up and fired low past Darryl Asquith to give his side a deserved lead. Saints rallied and hit back six minutes later when good work down the right from Philip Craig created an opening for Jason Ballantine who stabbed the ball home from close range.
Saints were given a great opportunity with a penalty kick, but Adam Barr in the Carniny goal brilliantly saved Brian Quinn’s spot kick.
firmus energy Division One: FC Antrim 1, Raceview 6; FC Moylena 3, Connor 0; Glenravel 2, Newpark Olympic 3; Riverdale 1, Abbeyview 6; Ballykeel 0, Harryville Homers 6; Carniny Rangers 4, FC Moylena 0; FC Antrim 2, Riverdale 5; Newpark Olympic 2, Clough Rangers 3; Raceview 4, Ahoghill Thistle 5; Harryville Homers 4, Glenravel 1
firmus energy Division Two: Ahoghill Rovers 5, Cloughmills 1; Cushendall 2, Michelin 4; Galgorm Blues 4, Waveney Swifts 3; Woodside 1, Carnlough Swifts 4
firmus energy Division Three: Atletico Antrim 3, Wakehurst Star 0; Braid United 1, Southside Rangers 1; Cullybackey Olympic 2, Templepatrick 1.
Saturday, September 5 (10.15am) - Mortgage Solutions Top Four semi-finals: Harryville Homers v Clough Rangers (Showgrounds 4); Ahoghill Thistle v Carniny Rangers (Showgrounds 5).
County Antrim Post O’Kane Cup, round two: Randalstown v Braid United.
firmus energy Division One: Abbeyview v Newpark Olympic (Forum); Ballykeel v Connor (Ballykeel); Glenravel v FC Antrim (Cargan); Raceview v FC Moylena (Broughshane); Riverdale v All Saints OB (Wakehurst 2).
firmus energy Division Two: Ahoghill Rovers v FC Penarol (Ahoghill); Cloughmills v Carnlough Swifts; Galgorm Blues v Seven Towers (Galgorm); Holywell v Sporting Ballymoney (Forum); Michelin v Woodside; Waveney Swifts v Cushendall (Waveney 2).
firmus energy Division Three: Carniny Amateurs v Atletico Antrim (Showgrounds 7); Cullybackey Olympic v Northend & District (Tober Park); St Comgalls v Wakehurst Star; Southside Rangers v Steadfast (Wakehurst 1); Templepatrick v Ruby’s Rovers (Forum).