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Sunday 19 Nov 2023
Intermediate Cup | Second Round recap

Stewart Nixon was the two-goal hero as Queen's University defeated Warrenpoint Town in the McComb's Coach Travel Intermediate Cup second round 'tie of the round'.

The top two sides in the NIFL Premier Intermediate League locked horns at Milltown on Friday evening, and with just one league defeat between them all season, it was always going to be a battle to savour.

Nixon opened the scoring for Queen's as early as the fourth minute after getting on the end of a perfectly weighted Lorcan McIlroy through ball before slotting past 'Point keeper Lewis Deane.

It was a lead the Students held until Nixon doubled it eight minutes into the second half when the former Coleraine and Carrick Rangers striker broke the offside trap to fire into the top corner.

Warrenpoint did pull one back through Declan Loye three minutes from time but, despite a big push in the closing moments, Barry Gray's side were unable to equalise.

It was also a good weekend for the sides placed third and fourth in the PIL with both Limavady United and Ballymacash Rangers negotiating their safe passage to the next round.

John Butcher and Joe McCready struck as the Roesiders got past Coagh United at Hagan Park while 'Cash hit five without reply on their way to victory over Premiership Development League leaders Coleraine Reserves at the Showgrounds.

Jack Smith was the hero of the hour for Rangers with a hat-trick supplemented by further finishes from Dylan Sinnerton and Bradley Porter.

Smith was one of seven players to come away with the match ball for their efforts.

Also hitting hat-tricks were Daniel Burns (Dunmurry YM), Benjamin Hendron (Finaghy), Stephen McCavitt (Banbridge Town) and Daniel Smith (Oxford Sunnyside) but the honour of being the top individual scorer on the day was jointly shared by Ross Arthur and Matthew Pierce who bagged four goals apiece for Abbey Villa and Newbuildings United respectively.

Two games went all the way to penalties, with East Belfast getting the better of Willowbank while Windmill Stars defeated Dunmurry Rec.

Holders Crumlin Star continued their defence of the trophy but were taken to extra-time by Shankill United at the Cliftonville Playing Fields. Scoreless after 90 minutes, it took goals in the 91st and 96th minute from Aidan McNeill and David Fearon to settle the tie.

However, St. Oliver Plunkett, runners-up last term, made their exit at the end of a nine-goal thriller with Wakehurst at the Ballymena Showgrounds.

Wakehurst raced into a two goal lead inside the first ten minutes thanks to Jamie Houston and Cameron Neilly, and when Houston struck again just after the half-hour mark it looked like game over.

But Michael Mervyn pulled one back for the visitors just before the break, with Sean Jackson then hitting a quick fire double on the hour to set up a gripping finale.

Callum Ross restored Wakehurst's lead with around a quarter-of-an-hour remaining, followed swiftly by Leon Patton to put the home side back in the driving seat. Conall Duffy did reduce the deficit again with a minute remaining but there wasn't enough time for Plunkett to grab what would have been a sensational late equaliser.

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