Tasty tie in prospect as United and Rathfern lock horns

SATURDAY’S local match of the day in football’s Northern Amateur League, sees Rathfern Rangers entertain Barn United at the Diamond in a Division 1A clash.

Both sides had crucial wins at the weekend with Barn getting back on track after two defeats, while Rathfern enjoyed their first victory since Christmas, ending a seven-game barren spell.

Having won six in a row around the turn of the year, United will be looking to embark on another winning run, as the chase for promotion hots up. United should be at full strength with Nicky Sharples set to return while Keith Millar is again available, after a one-match ban. One absentee, though, will be manager Jim Pherson, who is unavailable, with his assistant, Mark Brown, holding the fort.

Barn are 12 matches from the end of their league campaign so this weekend’s result isn’t quite as critical as it is for Rangers who, despite Saturday’s 2-1 win over Holywood, are still in the bottom two with only five games left.

After this weekend, Rathfern face games against Larne Tech (away), Nortel (home), Crumlin United (away) and then long term-leaders Shankill United (home).

Out of their six league wins this season, only two have been at the Diamond, although both of them have been against East Antrim sides in UUJ and Larne Tech. Rathfern should be at full strength, with the exception of David McBride, who looks set to miss the rest of the season after sustaining an ankle injury in their last outing.