Ballyclare Comrades Reserves start title push with impressive wins

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REIGNING champions Ballyclare Comrades Reserves set about retaining the Ballymena Junior League Division 1 title in style after two straight victories.

Having seen off Magherafelt Sky Blues Reserves 4-1 in the opening fixture, they followed this up with a 3-1 win against Mallusk at Threemilewater Park.

Last season, Jonty Watson’s lads had to beat the same opponents in the final fixture of the league campaign to clinch the title, and they lost little time in reasserting their authority.

In the seventh minute Tony Liken used his height to nod a Richard MacAuley cross into the net, and after an hour’s play the points were secured when the home side netted their third goal without reply.

Jonathan Boyd doubled the lead midway through the first half when he headed in a corner taken by skipper Lynch, and with keeper Warren McAllister having little to do the Wee Reds turned round two up.

One of the most fluent moves of the game resulted in Niall McErlean getting his name on the scorecard. Right-back Lynch started the move out of defence before linking with Matt Boyd and MacAuley, who put McErlean in for a one-against-one with the keeper, and he made no mistake.

Seven minutes from time Mallusk snatched a consolation score to deny McAllister a clean sheet.

Manager Watson said: “Last season we concentrated on keeping the ball on the deck, and with most of the lads back again we continued in the same vein, and never looked like losing.

“Left-back Chris Crowe and substitute Tyler McMaster, both promoted from the Youth XI, slotted in well as did Daniel Ellis recruited from Carrick Rangers Reserves.”

The match was sponsored by a former Comrades player, Marcus Doherty, who now runs a Costcutter store in Ballygowan, County Down.

Ballyclare Comrades Reserves: McAllister; Lynch (C), Liken, Wilson, Crowe; MacAuley, M Boyd, Boy, McErlean; Ellis, J Boyd. Subs: McMaster, Lindsay, McDowell.