If the race for promotion really is a marathon, Wellington Rec seem to have hit the wall with defeats in their two matches played last week when a 3-1 defeat at Ballynahinch United was followed by Saturday’s 3-2 loss at Colin Valley.
Andy Phillips was the Rec marksman at Ballynahinch; a defeat that gave the initiative back to Newcastle. Even wins in their last three outings therefore might not have been enough, for a Rec side now needing snookers.
Manager Stephen Donald lamented: “We’re going for promotion, just a few matches left, yet some players don’t make themselves available. It’s hard to believe. It proves that I will need a bigger squad next season.”
A draw was no use to Rec, who were going all out for the winner when they were caught on the break late on. Andy Waide and Paul Matthews were their marksmen.
At the other end of 1b, it was an even worse week for UUJ, looking for three points to ensure safety, only to lose three out of three; 6-0 at Newcastle; 2-0 at home to Bloomfield and 2-0 on Saturday at Ballynahinch United.
Perhaps it might have been different had UUJ been given what player-manager Billy Youle described as ‘a stonewall penalty. On the flipside he admitted UUJ were guilty of ‘naive defending’.
At the Diamond, Rathfern seemed to have secured the three points they needed when they came back from two down against Ballywalter Rec to lead 4-2 courtesy of Willie Holland, Craig McMurdie, Colin McBride and David Moore. But Rec staged a comeback of their own and earn a point which ensures their 1b status.
There was another relegation battle at the Barn, who lost 3-0 to Lisburn Rangers, before giving themselves some hope with a 2-1 victory over Dundonald. Andy Kane got their goals.
It was mixed fortunes for Nortel with a 2-1 midweek win over Crumlin Star (goals: Jordan Clarke and Adam Irwin), before losing on the same scoreline to Crumlin United (goal: Phil McCann).