Division 1A: There was a welcome win for UUJ on Saturday as they beat third-placed Lisburn Rangers 3-2 at the Factory Grounds.
They’re still at the foot of the table, but they’ve a game in hand and are only one point adrift of third-bottom Rosario.
Manager Shane McCullough was delighted with the result. “It was a good all-round performance and it could have been a lot more comfortable,” he told the Times.
“We should have been out of sight by half-time. We were 2-0 up and then Padraig Scollay, Kevin O’Neill and Lawrence Lyons all missed good chances - two of them hitting the woodwork. There were also good openings for Padraig and Johnny Magennis early in the second half.
“Lisburn Rangers are a really good side but I couldn’t see how they were going to come back at us until they got a controversial goal – our ‘keeper was clearly barged and the ball knocked out of his hands.”
Rangers drew level, scrambling in a free-kick on 80 minutes – but two minutes later, UUJ were back in front; Lyons delightfully volleying a long punt from Eamon Browne over the keeper’s head, following a misunderstanding in the visitors’ defence.
UUJ’s two first-half goals came courtesy of Johnny Magennis and Padraig Scollay.
Division 1B: Rathfern Rangers ended 2014 on a winning note with a 2-0 success over Ballynahinch United at the Diamond.
Rangers may now be fifth in 1B, but they’re only two points adrift of second-placed East Belfast, who have three games in hand.
These two teams met a fortnight ago at Millbridge where a last-gasp goal from the ‘Hinch goalkeeper gave United a point in a 2-2 draw.
This time Rathfern managed to cling on to all three points. “It was not a great performance or a great game, but the important thing was getting the win,” said Rangers boss, Bill Campbell.
“Ballynahinch had been three points ahead of us. Now we’re above them on goal difference, with three games in hand. It keeps us in the mix.”
The game’s only real moments of quality all came from Rathfern. David Moore volleyed in Gary Orr’s first-time cross after five minutes and then Orr tucked away Rangers’ second after the break, following some neat interplay amongst the midfield four.
Keeper Scott Hamilton then kept out a point-blank header, preventing ‘Hinch harbouring thoughts of pulling another 2-2 out of the bag.