St James Swifts go second in NIWFA Championship

NIWFA Championship, Ballyclare Comrades v Comber Rec
Ballyclare Comrades (red) netted a dozen against Comber Rec. (Bob Hall Sports Photography)

With the NIWFA Championship leaders Ballymena United not due to play their fixture against Bangor until Sunday, there was a chance for the other sides to close the gap at the top.

St.James Swifts were only too glad to make use of that opportunity, moving into second place in the table after easily disposing of local rivals St.Oliver Plunkett 5-0, thanks mainly to a hat-trick from Tiarna Hunter.

Sion Swifts missed their opportunity to move level on points with Ballymena after they were held 1-1 by a battling Belfast Celtic who now seem to be finding their feet after a slow start to the season. The Celts had taken an early lead through captain Sara-Lou McLaughlin and battled hard to defend that lead only for their defence to eventually be broken in the 59th minute by a superb strike from distance by Brooke Milligan. After this, despite hard work by both sides, the deadlock couldn’t be broken with the match ending 1-1.

After a stuttering start to the season Ballyclare Comrades are now nicely moving through the gears securing their third win on the spin this week as they easily cast aside Comber Rec 12-0 with in form Annelli Moore leading the way with a fine hat-trick. Moore was ably assisted by Molly Weir (x2), Zoe Johnston (x2) and single strikes by Nina Morrison, Cerys Madden, Isabal Campbell. Kelsie Chambers and skipper Meghan Ingram as they completed the rout in a result which sees the Comrades moving into fourth place and now only two points from the top of the table.

Foyle Belles’ miserable season continued as they lost at home to Camlough Rovers. the Belles however deserve some sort of credit from this game as they had fought back from two goals down at the break to level the game at 2-2 thanks to goals from Kate Patton and skipper Bronagh Dunne. Rovers however were not to be out done and made sure the long trip home was an enjoyable one with four goals from Olivia Connolly and strikes from Katie Brophy and Ellen McCartney ensuring they emerged 6-2 winners at the Brandywell.

All eyes now turn to that big game at Clandeboye Park between Bangor and Ballymena United on Sunday afternoon.

Ballymoney United and Greenisland continue to be the teams to beat in NIWFA Division One, both retaining their 100% winning starts to the season this week with Mea Mezza being the star for Ballymoney scoring a double hat-trick as they swept aside Rosario. Greenisland had to battle hard to defeat Ambassadors who remain in third place despite their defeat. Elsewhere Kilmore Rec’s disappointing start to the season continued as they lost at home to Ballyclare Comrades Reserves and in the final game this week Armagh City and Ballynahinch battled out a 1-1 draw

Greenisland v Ambassadors, NIWFA
Greenisland go for goal against Ambassadors. (Photo: Ephy McConnell)

Strabane Athletic maintained their unbeaten start to the Division 2 season but were made to work hard by a battling Lisburn Distillery side at New Grosvenor before securing a deserved three points. Craigavon remain level on points at the top of the table with Strabane following victory at Banbridge Town whilst the 22nd Ladies continued their decent start to the season easing aside Coleraine to move into third place in the standings. In the Divisions other game Lisburn Ladies Swifts defeated Ballymena United Women.

Lisbellaw continued their 100% winning start in Division 3 with Mid Ulster Ladies Reserves being their latest victims, although Carrick Rangers Falcons success over Ballymoney Reserves means they remain within three points off the top of the table, as do Belfast Ravens following their fantastic 3-2 win at Maiden City. Elsewhere, Portadown’s recent revival continued with victory at Dromara Village.

It was a case of home comforts in NIWFA Division 4 this week with all three home sides – Antrim Town, Lisburn Rangers Reserves and Raceview – winning.  These results see Antrim and local rivals Raceview still at top of the standings with an eight-point gap now emerging between those two sides and the chasing pack.

Oxford Sunnyside played twice this week but made sure to make their extra game count as they won both matches to move to the top of the Division Five table, albeit with second placed Valley Rangers now with a game in hand. As well as those wins for Oxford there were wins for Valley Rangers, Rathfriland and a walkover for Ards Rangers.

Victories for the second teams of Greenisland, Carrick Rangers Falcons and 22nd Ladies plus Holywood, means that it’s Carrick and Greenisland who lead the way in NIIWFA Division 6 with 100% records so far.

Round up by Colin Hopkins

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