AMATEUR LEAGUE: Alan Hall's end-of-season round-up
After just one point from their previous nine, defeat for Wellington Rec at Sirocco Works would have seen them finish seventh in Division 1B but Stephen Donald's team ended on a high with a 3-0 win which saw them claim third slot.
With Scott Cowie and Dean Shaw back boss Donald told the Times: “The team was a bit stronger - and they were absolutely brilliant. They totally outplayed a good Sirocco side. It was good to watch.”
Wellington opened the scoring through Michael Moore on the half-hour with Dean Shaw tightening their grip just minutes later.
Up until then it looked like being another one of those nights with Moore and Colin Paisley banging efforts over the bar, and Moore testing the strength of the woodwork. Paul Matthews, too, had one scrubbed out for a none too obvious infringement.
That two-goal interval margin therefore didn’t do Rec justice up against a Sirocco side striving for fourth place, but the issue was soon settled just after the turnaround with Shaw’s second and Wellington’s third. Andy Waide, immense in a central midfield role, could have added the gloss but for the thickness of an upright.
Premier Division Nortel finished their campaign with two home games and a double ‘one-two’. They beat Derriaghy Cricket Club and then lost by the same scoreline to Downpatrick two nights later.
The cricketers had first strike through a 20th-minute penalty and while both sides twice struck the willow, Nortel remained on a sticky wicket until they were bailed out by two goals in last 10 minutes. Ryan Cardwell and Dean McAllister scrambled in corners from Timmy Clarke and Davy Freyne.
Manager Lee McCartney conceded: “We probably stole it and Derriaghy could feel hard done by. But think of the points we’ve thrown away when we should have had something!”
Elliott McKimm and Timmy Clarke, named in the Amateur League’s representative squad for the Britton Rosebowl were rested for Nortel’s final fling against a Downpatrick side they had lost to the previous Saturday.
This time, though, Downpatick had a stand-in goalkeeper who was soon beaten as Dale Fenner gave Nortel the advantage.
However, the Factory side failed to turn the screw with Phil McCann and Tommy Hamill missing presentable opporunities.
McCartney added: “People couldn’t believe we weren’t at least two or three up. The amount of chances we’ve missed have cost us this season; things just weren’t dropping for us.”
Instead, it was Downpatrick who scored from a poorly defended corner just before the break, and they went on to grab what turned out to be the winner with a belter of a free-kick after the turnaround.
Already relegated Barn ended the campaign with a four-goal defeat by an East Belfast side who no doubt had one eye on their promotion decider with Lisburn Rangers two nights later.
All the goals came in the opening half and as Barn boss Jim Pherson explained: “You could see they wanted it over with early, so they could start thinking about the Lisburn Rangers match. They started off as if it was a Cup tie.
“East made some early subs in the second half when there was a bit more heart and passion about us, but the closest we came was Andy Kane heading one off the bar.”
Barn didn’t help their cause with dismissal of Matthew Bingham.