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It’s all White for Newington as Sport and Leisure’s relegation worries deepen

Newington defender Chris McFall and Sport and Leisure Swifts striker Joel Thompson battle for possession during Saturday’s Bluefinn Premier Intermediate League clash at Solitude. A late strike from Daniel White gave Newington a 2-1 win. Newington defender Chris McFall and Sport and Leisure Swifts striker Joel Thompson battle for possession during Saturday’s Bluefinn Premier Intermediate League clash at Solitude. A late strike from Daniel White gave Newington a 2-1 win.
By Paddy Tierney

Bluefin Premier Intermediate League

Newington 2 Sport and Leisure Swifts 1

From Paddy Tierney at Solitude

NEWINGTON have all but confirmed their place in the Premier Intermediate League with a last-gasp winner over relegation-threatened Sport and Leisure Swifts at Solitude on Saturday.
Defender Daniel White ghosted in at the near post and beat Sport and Leisure ’keeper Mark McKeown with a thunderous strike to give his side a 2-1 victory.
After a goalless first half, Joel Thompson gave the visitors the lead when he capitalised on a defensive mix-up in the Newington defence.
However, the hosts were only in arrears for six minutes as substitute Robert McVarnock rifled a stunning shot past McKeown on 68 minutes.
Moments later, Newington had a chance to take the lead from the penalty spot when McKeown was adjudged to have tripped Jonathan Gowdy in the box, but Gavin Taggart crashed his effort off the crossbar.
With 12 minutes remaining, Sport and Leisure were reduced to 10 men when striker Kevin Lynch picked up a second booking.
Newington pressed hard for the winner and right back Chris McFall had a glorious chance to seal all three points, but he dragged his shot across the face of goal from 10 yards.
From a similar position in the 90th minute, his defensive colleague White made no mistake when he drilled his shot on target at McKeown’s near post. Despite the Sport and Leisure goalkeeper’s best efforts, the shot simply had too much power and it spilled into the net to deny the West Belfast men a precious point at Solitude.
Last week, it was confirmed that the club, who will change their name to Belfast Celtic next season, lost five players through suspension arising from their abandoned tie with Portstewart in January.
Goalkeeper Michael Magill is banned for eight games while Padraig Lynch, Niall McAuley, Stephen McAlorum and Ryan McAuley have all been suspended for six games.
Speaking after the game, Sport and Leisure Swifts boss Packie McAllister felt the result was harsh on his team and says the strength-in-depth of his panel has been severely tested by the suspensions.
“A lack of bodies has cost us the game – we came here with two subs,” said McAllister.
“I can’t ask any more of the players. If we show that sort of commitment between now and the end of the season, I think we’ll be alright. After that, we are gutted. I thought a point was the least we deserved.”
While the Glen Road outfit are now three points adrift at the foot of the table, Newington have moved into the top six with the win and Conor Crossan says his side showed their battling qualities to nick the victory at the death.
“I think we deserved the three points, it is just a pity we had to work so hard for them,” said Crossan.
“Packie (McAllister) always has his team’s set up well, they slowed the game down.
“For us, we are delighted to score so late. The boys fought to the end, so we are very happy with that.”

NEWINGTON: J Craughwell; C McFall, S Brenna, D White, K Bradley, R Gowdy, T Logan, G Taggart, K Hughes (R McVarnock 59mins), E Devine (F Dugan 73mins), P Scolly (J Gowdy 58mins).

SPORT AND LEISURE: M McKeown, T Larkin, P McDonnell (G Largey 88mins), R Carroll, M McMullan, S Tully, P Tully (J Larkin 75mins), J McGrogan G Johnston (68mins), B Shannon, J Thompson, K Lynch.

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