DOWN AREA WINTER FOOTBALL LEAGUE – ROUND UP Week 1

08-09-2019

DOWN AREA WINTER FOOTBALL LEAGUE – ROUND UP Week 1

DOWN AREA WINTER FOOTBALL LEAGUE – ROUND UP

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I did my last report of the season, but this week saw the start of a brand new season and with 145 goals being scored in the 27 matches played, it started off with a bit of a bang, with 15 teams scoring 4 or more goals, so what a way to start the season.
Premiership
With managerial changes at the club and some players leaving to play amateur league football, the question on everyone’s minds was “Will last years champions and treble winners be the team to beat?”. This week saw champions, Greenwell Star, start their campaign at Henry Jones pitches, where they faced Vision Athletic. Having lost miserably in the season’s opening fixture in the Dennis S Nash Charity Shield, they would have wanted to show every one that they were better than that performance, but the two teams had met in the opening fixture of last seasons competition when Greenwell had edged it 2-1, so this looked potentially like a tricky fixture to start their defence with bearing in mind their performance just 2 weeks previous. However, they proved the critics wrong by turning in a 5-star performance as they eased to a comfortable 5-1 win to start their defence on positive note. Comber YM’s recruitment during close season seemed to go well with a number of excellent signings, so as one of the pre-season favourites to reclaim the title they lost to Greenwell last season, they would no doubt have wanted to lay down a marker in their opening fixture. This week saw them up against North Down at Londonderry Park, who have also made a number of good signings, so this looked like a good test for them. The teams met in the opening fixture of last season when North Down edged it 3-2, so Comber YM knew this was a tough opening fixture and it proved that way as the teams settled for a point a piece following a 1-1 draw. Newtownards RBL are another of the teams expected to be challenging this season and this week saw them start their challenge at Queens University Playing Fields where they faced Queens Grads III. When the teams met this time last year, Newtownards RBL came away with a 3-1 win, but Queens had shown during the season that on their day they were a match for anyone, so could they avenge that opening day loss! The answer was an emphatic no as Newtownards RBL went goal crazy on the opening day, scoring eight without reply to claim their first 3 points of the season and already living up to being one of the preseason favourites. Carrowdore YM had a difficult campaign last season and just avoided the dreaded drop, so they would have wanted to start this campaign on a more positive note. This week saw them up against one of the promoted teams, Belvoir, who had returned to the Premiership after only one season away, but they had returned as champions of Division 1, so could they start their campaign on a positive note! On paper, this looked like it could be a tight affair, and it proved that way as they played out a 7 goal thriller, with Carrowdore edging it with a late winner in injury time to claim a narrow 4-3 win. Our thoughts however are with the Belvoir player who suffered a bad injury in that match and we wish him a full and speedy recovery. 8th OB had also gone on a recruitment drive during the close season, so would those new signings help them start their campaign on a positive note! This week saw them start their campaign against Newtown Forest, who they’d beaten narrowly at the same stage last season, so this looked like it could be another tight affair. However, it proved to be a more one-sided contest as 8th OB started on a real positive note, scoring six goals without reply and leading goal scorer Paul Kennedy grabbing a 4 goal haul on the way, so could they be the one to watch this season! The final game saw Clonduff face another of the promoted teams as they started their campaign at Cherryvale Playing Fields against Corrymeela, who, like Belvoir, were returning to the Premiership after one season away and no doubt wanting to start off on a positive note. Clonduff would however have been favourites to come away with the points and they duly lived up to that tag as an Andrew Edgington hat-trick led them to a comfortable 5-0 win.
Division 1
Groomsport II and Colin Valley III entered the DAWFL last season and pushed each other the whole way as Groomsport won the Division 2 battle to claim promotion as the champions, so how would they start this campaign in the higher division! Last season there wasn’t much to choose between them, so a tight battle was expected, and that’s how it went as they both opened their account in Division 1 with a point following a 1-1 draw. Comber Rec III finished third last season, so will be regarded as one of the favourites to be pressing for promotion this campaign, especially after starting this campaign with a comprehensive win in the Dennis S Nash Charity Shield, were they beat Premiership Champions Greenwell Star 6-2. This week saw them start their league campaign at home to 43rd Dundonald. The teams had met at this stage last season when they delivered a 9-goal classic, with Comber edging it 5-4, so would we be entertained to another high scoring start! It proved to be a much closer contest on this occasion, but on this occasion it was 43rd Dundonald who came out on top as they claimed a 2-0 win to claim all 3 points. Portavogie Rangers II were one of the early front runners in last years campaign, only for a run of poor form to ruin their title and promotion push. This week saw them up against Castlereagh FC 82, who they’d drawn with in the opening fixture of last season, so who would come out top on this occasion! It proved to be more comfortable on this occasion as Portavogie claimed 2 more points than at this stage last year as they eased to a 5-0 win, with five different scorers on the scorecard. Ballygowan and 3rd Bangor both had terrible campaigns last season, resulting in their relegation from the Premiership, so they both will have wanted to start this campaign more positively. Ballygowan had gone on a recruitment campaign during close season and with new managers in place will have wanted to see an early improvement in their fortunes for this campaign and it proved to be the case as they opened the season with a 3-1 home win to start off on a positive note, so can they do what Belvoir and Corrymeela did and claim an early return to the Premiership! Comber Star just avoided the drop last season, but having, like some other clubs, gone on a recruitment drive, will no doubt want to avoid a similar situation this campaign. This week saw them up against Ards Rangers III, who were one of the teams involved in last seasons title and promotion fight, so this looked like a tough start to the new campaign, but it proved a bit more comfortable than envisaged as Comber Star started the new season on a positive note, claiming a 3-1 away win, so can they push on to be fighting at the other end of the table this season! The final saw a local derby as Abbey Villa III entertained Bangor Swifts III. When the teams met this time last year, Abbey Villa secured a comprehensive 8-3 win, so no doubt would have been looking to start this campaign off with a similar outcome, but it wasn’t to be as Bangor Swifts avenged that defeat to claim the 3 points on this occasion following a narrow 3-2 win.
Division 2
Agape had left the DAWFL last season for a new venture into the amateur league, but following a miserable campaign had decided to come back, but starting life on this occasion in Division 2, having formerly been one of the top Premiership teams. So how would they fare on their return! This week saw them up against one of the recent additions to the DAWFL as they faced Cregagh Wanderers, who just missed out on promotion last season, so no doubt will want to go one better this time out. A tight game was therefore envisaged and it proved that way as the teams shared the spoils following a 2-2 draw, with a brace from Agape’s Burke, to give them both something to build upon, so will both these teams be challenging come the seasons end! Millisle were the newcomers to the DAWFL, having won the BDFL Division 2 title last season, so how would they do as they moved into pastures new! This week saw them start their campaign with a game against Bloomfield III, so on paper this looked like a good tight battle. It proved just that, with only one goal separating them at the end, but it was a positive start to life in the DAWFL as Millisle opened their account by claiming all 3 points following a narrow 3-2 win, so can they build on last season’s title win to claim another one in a new league! Bangor YM III suffered relegation in their last campaign, so they would have been looking to start off on a more positive note in this one. This week saw them travel to Hydebank Playing Fields to face Lagan Swifts, who are one of the early favourites to be involved in this season’s title and promotion chase, so a difficult game to start with. There wasn’t a lot in it at half time, with Lagan Swifts holding a slender 1-0 lead, but an improved second half showing saw Lagan claim a comfortable 5-1 win to start the new campaign on a positive note, so is this going to be another difficult season for Bangor YM or will they turn their fortunes around! Bryansburn Rangers III had a difficult campaign last season, so no doubt will be looking to do better on this occasion. This week saw them start the season off with a home fixture against Victoria Athletic, who were one of the higher goal scoring teams during last season, so a difficult game to start with. However, it was Bryansburn who would come away with the points as they scored 4 goals in their opening game for the second season running, with Cardwell grabbing a brace to leave him just one shirt of 600 goals for the club, but Victoria were only able to reply with two of their own to give Bryansburn. Clarawood just missed out on promotion last season, with ill-discipline and points deduction being the main cause of that, so will this season see them go one better to earn promotion!This week saw them start their campaign with an away fixture to Willowfield Parish 10th OB. In the same fixture last season, Clarawood came away with a 3-0 win and they scored another three on this occasion. However, Willowfield Parish scored 3 of their own to see the teams share the spoils with a point apiece.
Reserve Division 1
Following a titanic battle last season, Greenwell Star II eased the title from the grasps of Comber YM II, so will be looking to keep the title from their grasp this campaign. However, with management and player changes within the club, just like the first team, there was some talk that Greenwell would struggle on this occasion. This week saw them start their defence against promoted Clarawood II, so on paper Greenwell looked the favourites to claim the points or would the doubters be proved right! They duly delivered in emphatic style as they claimed an emphatic 6-1 win to start the season off were they finished, in pole position, so will they maintain that form to retain the title for a second year running! After losing their title, Comber YM II will be looking to retain it at the earliest opportunity. This week saw them with a home game against Corrymeela II, who proved last season that they could be difficult opponents, so could Comber start off on a positive note! It was a close enough game, but it was Comber who came away with the points as they claimed a 2-0 win to start the season off as no doubt they will want to go on, so will this be another 2-horse race this season! Comber Star Reserves and North Down II pushed each other the whole way in last seasons Reserve Division 2 title race, with Comber Star claiming the title in a fitting final game play off. With not much between them last season, this looked like it would be another tight affair, but it was more comfortable than envisaged as a dominant performance saw North Down avenge that last game defeat to open their account in Reserve Division 1 with a 5-2 away win. Clonduff II had a poor start to last seasons campaign, which saw them out of the title race before it had even started, so no doubt they would have been looking to start this season off on a better note. This week saw them up against Newtown Forest II, who they drew 2-2 with in one of their opening fixtures of last season, so this looked like it could be a tight affair. It proved that way with only one goal separating them at the end, but on this occasion it was Clonduff who came away with all 3 points, so can they be involved in this seasons title race following last seasons Tommy Murphy Memorial Shield win! The final game saw Newtownards RBL II playing host to Vision Athletic II, with both teams having underperformed in the last campaign and looking to start this one on a more positive note. A close game was expected and it proved to be that way, with only one goal between them at the end, but it was Vision Athletic who came away with all 3 points as a brace from James Quinn helped them to a narrow 3-2 win to start their campaign on a positive note.
Reserve Division 2
This division proved to be the highest scoring, with 38 goals scored in the 5 games played averaging over 7.5 goals per game. 3rd Bangor II had suffered the dreaded drop last season, so will want to get back into the top reserve division as quickly as possible. This week saw them start their campaign with a home fixture against Ballygowan II, who, with a number of new players, are expected to do well this season, so a tough opening for the relegated outfit. However, it wasn’t the start many expected as 3rd Bangor claimed all three points following a narrow 1-0 win, so will Ballygowan bounce back in their next outing to get their season and challenge going! Queens Grads IV joined 3rd Bangor in the relegation stakes, so, like 3rd Bangor, will be looking an early return to the top reserve division. This week saw them up against new team Millisle II, with not much known about their credentials, so who would come out on top! As it turned out, it was the established DAWFL outfit who proved just too strong as Queen Grads opened their account with a comfortable 5-2 win, so can they bounce back into Reserve Division 1 at the first time of asking! Agape Swifts made a return to the DAWFL as they entered Reserve Division 2 and their opening fixture was a game against 43rd Dundonald II. Agape, with their amateur league experience behind them, were regarded as slight favourites and they lived up to that as a Corrigan hat-trick led them to a 5-3 win to start life in the DAWFL with a win, so will they be amongst the challengers in this years promotion and title race! Cregagh Wanderers entered a reserve team for the first time this season and they started their campaign with a home game against Lagan Swifts II, who did well in cup competitions last season and expected to be involved in this seasons title and promotion race, so a tough start for the new team. However, it proved to be a poor day for the defence’s as the teams went goal crazy to deliver a 10 goal classic, with Lagan Swifts eventually earning the 3 points following a 6-4 win. The final game was the highest scoring in any of the divisions with some 12 goals being scored as 8th OB II entertained Willowfield Parish 10th OB II. Aided by a 4 goal haul from Steven Beattie and a brace apiece for Simon Hall and George Keery, it was 8th OB who came away with the points as they scored all twelve goals without reply to open their account in emphatic style and already one to watch out for, for the season ahead.
Summary
In the Premiership, most of the big guns came away with a winning start to the new campaign with Clonduff, Newtownards RBL and Greenwell Star earning convincing victories. Comber YM were held to a 1-1 draw, but after the first round of games 8th OB have shown they may be one to watch out for this season. In Division 1, Portavogie Rangers II lead the way following a comfortable win, but there were good wins also for Comber Star, 43rd Dundonald and Ballygowan, so this division already looks hard to call, but no doubt we’ll see things evolve over the coming weeks. In Division 2, newbies Millisle have started off on a positive note and along with Bryansburn Rangers and Lagan Swifts have made a winning start to the new campaign. In Reserve Division 1 the champions, Greenwell Star II, have made a winning start to their attempt to retain the title, but with Comber YM II, Clonduff II, Vision Athletic II and North Down II also making a winning start, this looks like it could be a competitive division this season. In Reserve Division 2, there was a glut of goals, with 8th OB II leading the way with 12, but there was a winning return for Agape Swifts along with wins for Lagan Swifts II, Queens Grads IV and 3rd Bangor II, so already this division looks hard to call