DOWN AREA WINTER FOOTBALL LEAGUE ROUND UP WEEK 2

15-09-2019

DOWN AREA WINTER FOOTBALL LEAGUE ROUND UP WEEK 2

DOWN AREA WINTER FOOTBALL LEAGUE ROUND UP

With an average of over 5 goals per game, the Down Area Winter Football League once again proved to be the place to be for goal mouth activity, with a number of hat-tricks being scored throughout the divisions.
Premier Division
The Premier Division went goal crazy this weekend with 41 goals being scored from the 5 games played. The big match of the day saw reigning champions Greenwell Star, who started the season off on a real positive, up against fierce rivals Newtownards RBL, who had also started the season off in high scoring fashion, so this game looked as if it would have goals in it and we weren’t disappointed. The teams had pushed each other all the way in last years title race, so this was an early test to gauge how things might pan out during the forthcoming season. With both teams making excellent winning starts to this years campaign, a tight affair was expected, but it turned out a bit more one sided as Newtownards RBL continued their scoring streak to this years campaign to claim an emphatic 6-1 win, helped by Greenwell being reduced to 10 men and an enforced goalkeeper change, so will we see them go that step further this year to claim their first Premier title! On this sort of form, I wouldn’t bet against them, but its early days yet. Clonduff are another team who made a good start to the season, but recent challenges have suggested that they needed to tighten up defensively if they were to be serious title contenders, so they would have been pleased with their clean sheet last week and looking to build upon that. This week saw them having home advantage against Carrowdore YM, who struggled last campaign, but had started the season off with a narrow win, so with both teams looking to build upon those wins who would come out on top! Clonduff would have been regarded as favourites going into the game and they lived up to that in emphatic style, as for the second week running, a hat-trick from Andrew Edgington, with a further hat-trick from J Robinson, leading them to a 9-1 win to maintain their 100% start to the campaign, so can they maintain this form to be true challengers for this years title! Comber YM were one of the preseason favourites, but had dropped points in their opening game, so were looking to pick up their first win of the season. This week saw them with a home game against Queens Grads III, who were looking to bounce back from a heavy defeat last week. Queens Grads showed during the last campaign that on their day they were a match for anyone, but they would have needed to improve dramatically if they were to compete with a team many regards as one of the favourites for this year’s title. However, it proved to be another miserable weekend for Queens, albeit there is some doubt over the final score line, with a difference of opinion from what was submitted to the league and what has appeared on social media, but despite that difference it was an emphatic win for the former champions as they went goal crazy with an Ennis hat-trick, aided by a brace apiece from Halliday and Hanna, leading them to a 12-1 win (11-1 per social media), so have we seen the true start to Comber’s challenge to retain the title they lost so miserably to Greenwell last campaign! 8th OB started the new campaign in emphatic style, so would have no doubt been looking to build upon that. This week saw them with home advantage against Corrymeela, who had started the campaign with a heavy defeat, so looking to kick start their season. With 8th OB demonstrating an attacking prowess to their game from the opening fixture and Corrymeela showing defensive frailties, this looked like going to the home team and it proved that way as 8th OB maintained their perfect start to the new campaign with a 3-1 win. The final game saw two teams looking to pick up their first points of the season as Belvoir entertained Vision Athletic. Last week Belvoir had suffered an agonising loss in a 7 goal thriller whereas Vision had suffered a heavy defeat, so who would come out on top in this fixture, if anyone! As it turned out, for the second week running Belvoir were to be involved in a tight 7 goal thriller, but on this occasion, they came out top as they earned a narrow 4-3 win to kick start their season and leaving Corrymeela still looking for their first points of the new campaign.
Division 1
With 3rd Bangor and 43rd Dundonald in Junior Cup action, it was a slightly reduced fixture list with 5 matches in this division, but with 25 goals from those games there was still plenty of goalmouth activity to savour. Portavogie Rangers II had led the way in the opening fixtures to start the weekend in pole position and this week saw them up against local rivals Groomsport II, who had claimed a point in their opening fixture, so who would come out on top in this first fixture between the two teams in the DAWFL! A tight affair was expected and a tight affair was what was delivered, with only one goal being scored, but it went to Portavogie, who maintained their 100% start to the new campaign, so can they maintain their challenge this season or will we see them, like last season, lose their way to fall short! Ballygowan suffered relegation last season, so will be looking for an immediate return to the Premier division. Last week saw them start the campaign with a win, so they would have been looking to build upon that in this weeks fixture, which saw them travel to Londonderry Park to play Ards Rangers III, who had just missed out on promotion in the last campaign and no doubt looking to go one better this campaign. However, Ards Rangers had suffered a defeat in their opening fixture, so were looking their first points of the season, so with home advantage, would that help them! It proved however to be a bit of a one sided game, as Ballygowan went goal crazy to maintain their 100% start to the campaign and inflict Ards Ranger second defeat, as they cruised to a comfortable 7-1 win, so on this sort of form would anyone bet against them making an immediate return to the Premier Division! Bangor Swifts III were another of the teams who started the new campaign with 3 points, so they would have been looking to build upon that with their first home game of the new campaign. This week saw them up against Comber Rec III, who were looking to pick up their first points of the new campaign and who were expected to be challenging at the top end of the table this season, so could they bounce back to kick start their season! Comber Rec looked as if they were going to claim their first points of the season as they moved into a 3-1 lead, but led by a brace from Colin Brown, Bangor Swifts made a thrilling comeback to claim a 5-3 win to maintain their 100% start and leaving Comber Rec still looking for their first points of the season. Comber Star just avoided relegation in the last campaign, but had made a promising start to the new season last week, so could they build upon that with their first home game of the season! This week saw them up against Abbey Villa III, who had suffered a narrow defeat in their opening fixture, so no doubt looking to bounce back. Comber Star got off to a dream start as they earned a penalty within 20 seconds of the match starting, converted by Tyler Beattie. Abbey Villa fought back to make a game of it, but despite having a large amount of possession, aided by a disjointed performance from Comber Star, it was Comber Star who eventually claimed the points following a second 3-1 win, to maintain their 100% start, so can they keep that run going to be challenging at the top end of the table this season! Colin Valley III earned promotion last season, narrowly missing out on claiming the title, so can they mount a challenge to claim back to back promotions! They started the new campaign with a draw, so this week gave them an opportunity to claim their first win as they travelled to Billy Neill to play Castlereagh FC 82, who had suffered a heavy defeat in their opening fixture, but no doubt looking to bounce back. Castlereagh FC 82 would have been looking to improve on their defensive qualities from last week and their offensive threat, but for the second week running, those qualities appear to be missing as Colin Valley earned their first win of the new campaign following a 4-0 win, so is this going to be a long hard season for Castlereagh FC 82 or will they turn their season around!
Division 2
Agape returned to the DAWFL after a year out in the amateur league and had opened their account with a draw in their opening fixture, so would no doubt have been looking to claim their first win of the new campaign. This week saw them travel to Millisle to play newcomers Millisle FC, who had started like in the DAWFL with an opening day win and looking to build upon that. On paper, this looked like it would be a tight affair, but despite a brace from Couser and having home advantage, it was Agape who were to maintain their unbeaten start to the season as a brace from Telford led them to a 4-2 win. Bryansburn Rangers III started the new campaign with an opening day win, so would have been looking to build upon that following a miserable campaign last season. This week saw them face a Bangor derby, as they faced Bangor YM III, who started the campaign off with a heavy 5-1 defeat and therefore looking to kick start their season. On paper this looked to be going in favour of Bryansburn, but Bangor YM were to turn the form book upside down as they claimed a 2-0 win to kick start their season. Victoria Athletic demonstrated their attacking prowess throughout the last campaign, but had started this season with a defeat and no doubt looking to pick up their first points of the season. This week saw them with home advantage as they took on Willowfield Parish 10th OB, who had picked up a point in their opening fixture. Both teams had shown defensive frailties in their opening fixtures but also an ability to score goals, so this game looked to have goals in it. It proved that way, with 4 goals being scored between them, but there was nothing to separate the teams at the final whistle as they settled for a 2-2 draw, which gave Victoria their first point of the season and maintained Willowfield’s unbeaten start to the new campaign.
Reserve Division 1
Reigning champions Greenwell Star II had opened their account with a convincing opening day win, so could they maintain that form as they look to make it back to back titles! This week saw them up against Vision Athletic II, who had also started the campaign with an opening day win, so with both teams looking to maintain a perfect start to the season, something was to give. Greenwell, having scored 6 in their last outing would have been considered as favourites, but it proved to be a tight affair as both teams settled for a point each following a 1-1 draw, which keeps both teams unbeaten starts intact. Comber YM II are looking to retain the title they agonisingly lost to Greenwell last season, so would have been looking to maintain their own 100% start to the new season. This week saw them up against one of the promoted teams, North Down II, who had started the season off with an excellent win over last seasons Reserve Division 2 champions and looking to build upon that. With home advantage for North Down, this looked like it could be a tight battle, but it didn’t prove that way as a performance inspired by Jason Rutherford, who proved to be a threat throughout the game, saw Comber YM make it two wins from two after a convincing 6-1 win, so is that a measure of their intent for the coming season! Clonduff II, started the campaign with a narrow win, but looking to build upon that after their start to last season blew them out of any potential title challenge. This week saw them up against Corrymeela II, who, despite a spirited performance, had lost their opening fixture and looking to open their account for this season. This looked on paper like a good tight battle, but it didn’t prove that way as Clonduff turned on the style, led by a hat-trick from Hamilton and a brace from Patterson, as they maintained their 100% start to the new season courtesy of a 6-0 win, so will we see Clonduff build upon last seasons Tommy Murphy Memorial Shield win to claim their first Reserve Division 1 title! Both Newtown Forest II and Newtownards RBL II started the season with opening losses, so they would have both been looking to kick start their seasons as they faced each other. Newtown Forest had home advantage, so would this give them as slight advantage! On paper, this looked like it would be a tight game, with both teams looking to open their account, but it was Newtownards RBL who came away with the points following a 4-2 win to leave Newtown Forest still looking for their first points of the season. The game scheduled between Clarawood II and Comber Star Reserves was cancelled when Clarawood were unable to field a team, which will now go to the League Council to decide upon in line with league rules, but it is worrying to see a team unable to field a team so close to the start of the season.
Reserve Division 2
8th OB II had started the new campaign in emphatic style, so would that sort of form be maintained! This week saw them up against Agape Swifts, who were returning to the DAWFL after a year out in the amateur league, so this looked like a tougher contest. Agape themselves had started the campaign with a win, so both teams were looking to maintain 100% starts to the season. A tight affair was expected and a tight affair was what was delivered, but it was 8th OB who maintained their 100% start to the season whilst also recording their second clean sheet as they earned a 2-0 win to maintain their position as the early leaders. Lagan Swifts II also started the new season with a win and looking to build upon that as they look to be involved in this years title and promotion race. This week saw them up against newcomers, Millisle II, who had suffered a heavy defeat in their opening game and no doubt looking to do better second time out. Lagan Swifts had shown a more cutting edge in their opening game and that was carried into this game as they coasted past the newcomers following an emphatic 8-2 win, which keeps them up with the early leaders, so will they maintain that form! Ballygowan II, following a recruitment drive, were expected to be amongst the front runners this season, but had suffered a narrow defeat in their opening fixture and no doubt looking to bounce back from that. His week saw them up against Cregagh Wanderers II, who were also looking to bounce back from a narrow opening day defeat, so this looked too close to call. It proved that way, with only one goal being scored, but it went to Cregagh Wanderers to open their account, as Ballygowan suffered back to back 1-0 losses to leave them at the wrong end of the table, but I do expect them to bounce back soon to mount a challenge. 3rd Bangor II had a tough campaign last season that saw them being relegated, but they started the new campaign with an opening day win and looking to build upon that. This week saw them up against Queens Grads IV, who had also made a winning start to the new campaign, so something was going to give. This looked like it would be a tight affair and it proved that way as the teams settled for a point each following a 1-1 draw to preserve both teams unbeaten start to the season. Willowfield Parish 10th OB II suffered a heavy defeat last week and would have been looking a much-improved performance this week, as they faced 43rd Dundonald II, who were also looking to bounce back from an opening day defeat. 43rd Dundonald would have been regarded as favourites going into the game bearing in mind Willowfield’s previous outing. The game proved a lot closer than many envisaged, but it was 43rd Dundonald who claimed the points following a arrow 2-1 win, leaving Willowfield rooted to the bottom of the division at this early stage.
Summary
After the opening round of fixtures, there are 5 teams in the Premier Division still to suffer a loss with three of them sitting with maximum points. Newtownards RBL and Clonduff are tied at the top with nothing to separate them but 8th OB have also made an excellent start to the new campaign and could be the dark horses to watch out for this season. Queens Grads III already look like the whipping boys, but plenty of games still to come. In Division 1, there’s 6 teams still to suffer a defeat with 5 of them on maximum points. Ballygowan already look a force to be reckoned with, although Portavogie Rangers II, Comber Star, Bangor Swifts III and 43rd Dundonald will no doubt be keen to keep them under pressure. At the other end there are 5 teams yet to pick up a point in the opening fixtures. In Division 2, Agape, following their return from the amateur league, are the early leaders and no doubt looking to get back to the Premier Division as quickly as possible, although I do expect this division to be very competitive with a number of teams able to win it. In Reserve Division 1, Comber YM II and Clonduff II look the pick of the bunch so far, so will we see these two forming a 2 horse race or will we see others joining them to make it a more open and intriguing contest! Worrying sign for this division is teams not fulfilling their fixtures so time will tell whether we have our first casualty of the season from this division. In Reserve Division 1, 4 teams remain unbeaten with only 8th OB II and Lagan Swifts II maintaining 100% records, but I expect this division to be quite competitive throughout the season, with 8th OB II looking the pick of the bunch so far.