Lewis Bennett has a look back at some of the statistics from the 2023/24 season.

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(Posted: Saturday, 25th May 2024)

Bangor FC Ladies made it three wins in five days on Wednesday evening following a battling 2-1 victory at Camlough Rovers in the NIWFA Championship.

The Seasiders kept their grip on top spot in the standings courtesy of two Amber Dempster finishes either side of half-time – the second of which came just four from the end, proving enough to win the contest and ensure they stay top of the pile ahead of next week’s top-of-the-table clash with St James’ Swifts.

In a tense opening period at Camlough Stadium where both sides threw caution to the wind in cloudy conditions, it was the visitors who drew first blood in the contest when Dempster’s 32nd-minute free-kick from distance squirmed underneath home goalkeeper Aoife Magee and broke the deadlock. Targeting a trio of successes following last Friday night’s cup triumph at Valley Rangers and the six-goal defeat of Ballymena United back in the league, the Yellows had similar aims in this contest and were on track for that at half-time but were pegged back by Camlough on the hour mark when a deep free-kick was turned in from close range by Leanne Domican.

There was still time for another goal, though, and Dempster got it on 86 minutes for Chris Dougan’s side. A beautiful flowing move from back to front was finished confidently by the striker, who already has 13 goals for the season, when she drilled the ball low into the bottom left and ultimately wrapped up the three points for Bangor with their fifth league win in six matches.


Amber Dempster was left satisfied after her two goals helped Bangor FC Ladies grind out a hard-fought 2-1 win over Camlough Rovers Ladies in midweek. The striker’s finishes either side of the interval ensured Bangor picked up their fifth league win in six games and a third across all competitions in a five-day span.

Dempster reflected on a performance where the Seasiders had to knuckle down to get the job done and praised the side’s persistence to get the job done against a battling Camlough side in south Down.

“It’s definitely great to travel all the way down here and come away with the three points.

“You know, we definitely made hard work of it, it was obviously quite difficult given the circumstances with the travelling, the pitch… we’re not really used to playing on a grass pitch, it was quite small.

“Those are things that can go against you, but at the same time, you can’t make excuses.

“We should’ve probably got the job done a lot earlier than we did, but the most important thing is we came away with the three points.

“The girls really did dig deep, it was obviously going to be a really physical game and difficult conditions, but it’s great to get away with the three points.

“The girls worked hard, obviously heavy legs from Sunday as well (against Ballymena United), but great now to go into training and into next week’s game against St James’.

“The defence did really well, you know, we’ve been working quite hard in training defensively and it really is paying off.

“Going forward, obviously we just need to be a bit more clinical. Like I say, we come down here, we get a 2-1 win and move on to the next game.”

Amber Dempster

(Posted: Saturday, 25th May 2024)

Wednesday, May 22 – Camlough Rovers Ladies vs Bangor FC Ladies, NIWFA Championship, Camlough Stadium, 7:30pm

Bangor FC Ladies are on the road again on Wednesday when they will bid to make it three wins on the spin away to Camlough Rovers Ladies.

The Seasiders, who are in hot form after a 2-1 Electric Ireland Women’s Challenge Cup win over Kilkeel side Valley Rangers last Friday and 6-1 victory against Ballymena United in the NIWFA Championship on Sunday, have their sights on further success when they travel to south Down to take on Camlough, promoted to the second-tier for this season alongside St Oliver Plunkett.

Chris Dougan’s side will make it a fifth win from six league matches and climb to 15 points to retain their grip on top spot should they clinch the three points here, and the players are in high spirits going into the clash at Camlough Stadium having also hit 31 goals in their first five league games – the attack has been firing on all cylinders and pleasing the management.

The Yellows, who are then on the road to St James Swifts’ in what could be a top-two battle at Whiterock Leisure centre, want to build on their early-season momentum and overcome a tough challenge against the side who sit sixth in the rankings and having won their last two.

(Posted: Tuesday, 21st May 2024)

Bangor FC can confirm the departures of Conor McDermott and Seanna Foster following the conclusion of their respective loan deals at Coleraine and Cliftonville.

McDermott, who linked up in January 2024 having spent the first half of the campaign on loan at Lisburn Distillery in the PIL, made 13 appearances for the Seasiders and made his mark with memorable finishes during victories over Ards and Harland and Wolff Welders. The right-back, who also registered an assist for Scott McArthur inside three minutes of his debut – a 3-1 win away to Newington – will be fondly remembered among the Clandeboye faithful, as will his former Cliftonville team-mate Foster who made 59 appearances across two seasons with Lee Feeney’s side.

Foster, who arrived in August 2022 on an initial season-long loan where he won the Steel and Sons Cup and Premier Intermediate League double – he registered seven assists and scored once in 35 appearances at right wing-back – was brought back in August 2023 for another season-long spell and made 24 appearances this term, providing three further set-ups for his team-mates as Bangor came third in their first season back in the Championship.

“Some unreal memories that will be with me forever,” said Foster. “Can’t thank everyone at the club enough from Lee, all his team and the board members over the last two years.”

McDermott said: “Had an amazing few months at Bangor. Football was great but met some even more amazing people at the club. Thank you @bangorfc. Looking forward to the next chapter of football.”

The very best of luck for the future lads!

(Posted: Tuesday, 21st May 2024)

Bangor are delighted to confirm a fifth summer arrival to Clandeboye Park, with right wing-back Caomhan McGuinness linking up from fellow Playr-Fit Championship outfit Ballyclare Comrades.

The 24-year-old, who hails from a famous footballing family that includes his three sisters, the Cliftonville Ladies trio Kirsty, Caitlin and Orleigha McGuinness, switches to Clandeboye Park and arrives with an attack-minded reputation and industry that saw him named in the 2022/23 Championship Team of the Season.

McGuinness a graduate of Linfield’s Academy set-up prior to joining Queen’s University in 2022, shone on the right side of defence for Stephen Small’s side, playing over 50 games throughout his couple of seasons at Dixon Park and helping the Comrades to two Irish Cup quarter-final clashes – the first of which, against Ballymena United, saw him almost rip the roof of the net off with one particularly ferocious drive.

Also figuring in the Premiership while on loan at Dungannon Swifts from the Blues during the 2019/20 season, making 12 league appearances for the Co Tyrone outfit, McGuinness joins Lee Feeney’s panel this window keen to put his quality on display in front of the Clandeboye faithful.

Welcome to Bangor, Caomhan!

(Posted: Monday, 20th May 2024)

Bangor are pleased to confirm experienced midfielder Robert Garrett as the club’s fourth signing of the summer window, signing a one-year deal until the end of the 2024/25 term.

Garrett (36), a tough-tackling presence in the centre of the park and a former fully-capped Northern Ireland international – he has five caps to his name and graduated through Stoke City’s youth set-up – has enjoyed a distinguished Irish League career, winning five Premiership titles with Linfield and plying his trade with Mid-Ulster rivals Portadown and Glenavon, joining from the latter where he has spent the past five years of his career.

Having also spent a brief stint on loan in the North American Soccer League in 2013 with now-defunct Canadian outfit FC Edmonton, Garrett’s well-travelled throughout his career and now links up with Lee Feeney’s panel ahead of the 2024/25 Championship campaign.

The Belfast man nicknamed ‘Ribsy’, who made 30 Premiership appearances for Glenavon under Gary Hamilton and Stephen McDonnell last season, was a free agent following his departure from Mourneview Park but has swapped Lurgan for north Down for what will, indeed, be his first taste of Championship football in his career.

Welcome to Bangor, Robert!

(Posted: Monday, 20th May 2024)

Bangor FC Ladies returned to winning ways in the NIWFA Championship on Sunday afternoon following a stylish 6-1 victory over Ballymena United Women at a sunny Clandeboye Park.

Braces by top goalscorer Amber Dempster and the prolific Janine Jess followed earlier strikes by teenager Emi Wynne and Leah Robinson that help the Seasiders hit back in the league following the 5-4 home reversal to Ballyclare Comrades Ladies 11 days previously as well as build on the slender success in the Women's Challenge Cup against Valley Rangers on Friday night.

It was Wynne who broke the deadlock on 18 minutes, and the lead was swiftly doubled by Robinson five minutes later that saw Bangor start on the front foot against United, who recorded a penalty shoot-out success in the teams' earlier meeting at the Warden Street Showgrounds in the NIWFA Championship Cup a few weeks ago. In-form midfielder Jess added a third on the half-hour mark that saw Chris Dougan's side through to the interval before Dempster added a fourth 21 minutes after the restart that increased Bangor's cushion on the day.

Ballymena then pulled one back with five or so minutes remaining through Ellen McClure, but Jess bagged her second shortly after that restored the hosts' four-goal advantage before Dempster put the final flourish on the contest in added-time with the Yellows' sixth of the afternoon. The result sees Bangor move back on top of the league with 12 points from 15 to date ahead of Wednesday night's trip to Camlough Rovers.

(Posted: Monday, 20th May 2024)

Bangor FC Ladies made their way through to the next round of the Electric Ireland Women’s Challenge Cup on Friday – but a determined Valley Rangers pushed the Seasiders all the way.

The Seasiders won 2-1 at Bignian Park in Kilkeel and punched their ticket into the next phase of the competition courtesy of second-half finishes from Megan Gore and Toni Stewart, but the NIWFA Division Five hosts proved a stern obstacle as they had held the score goalless at half-time here. Chris Dougan’s side broke the deadlock on 52 minutes, though, and it was a peach of a strike from Stewart that did it, finding the net from 25 yards before Gore also hit the target from a similar distance around the midway point in the half.

Valley applied the pressure in second-half stoppage-time, though, with Caitlin Rae scoring in the fourth additional minute to set up a grandstand finish, but Bangor weathered a late storm in south Down and secured their place in the First Round Proper of the tournament.


Bangor FC Ladies face a quick turnaround as they head into a Sunday special in the NIWFA Championship against Ballymena United Women at Clandeboye Park.

The Seasiders, who defeated Valley Rangers 2-1 in Kilkeel on Friday night to progress in the Electric Ireland Women’s Challenge Cup, return to league action and stare into a tough test against last season’s relegated side from the Premiership. United have also previously beaten the Seasiders this term, on penalties after a 1-1 draw at The Showgrounds in the NIWFA Championship Cup, so there is somewhat of an element of revenge about this duel.

In any case, boss Chris Dougan will keep his players grounded and look for them to hit their winning stride in the Championship again, as a 5-4 reverse to Ballyclare Comrades Ladies in their previous league outing following three victories to start the league campaign has the side hungry to rediscover their groove.

The hard-fought success at Bignian Park on Friday when Toni Stewart and Megan Gore hit the decisive strikes has fuelled the Yellows’ momentum that, it is hoped, translates into a return to type in the league once more.

(Posted: Saturday, 18th May 2024)

Bangor FC are pleased to confirm the signing of centre-back Kyle Owens from Harland and Wolff Welders on a two-year contract ahead of the new season. After his Welders team-mate Matthew Ferguson put pen to paper a two-year deal to link up at Clandeboye Park this week, 31-year-old defender Owens – who is the younger brother of Crusaders’ all-time record goalscorer Jordan Owens – has followed suit and become part of Lee Feeney’s panel ahead of the 2024/25 campaign.

The former Crues and Ballymena United ace has experience in the Premiership and featured in an imposing partnership at the heart of defence with Callum Byers, who arrived at Bangor in January, at the Welders where he rocked up in 2022. He went on to score five goals in 62 appearances for the east Belfast club and played 33 times in the Playr-Fit Championship last term, when his positional sense and commanding aerial ability caught the eye of Bangor fans in clashes between the sides.

Now, Owens, who has also played for Dundela, Knockbreda and Carrick Rangers in his career, becomes Bangor’s third permanent recruit of the off-season in an active start to the window.

Welcome to Bangor, Kyle!

(Posted: Saturday, 18th May 2024)

Bangor FC are delighted to confirm that forward Ben Cushnie has agreed a two-year deal to join on a permanent basis when his contract with Glentoran expires at the end of June.

The 22-year-old, who linked up on an initial one-season loan from the Glens last summer, hit six goals and three assists in 25 appearances, showcasing his quality and enjoying a fruitful post-split in particular when he netted crucial goals against Dundela and Institute that saw the Seasiders in promotion play-off contention right until the dying embers of last campaign.

Having weathered injury turbulence in 2023/24 to display his ability to score and create, his performances were a hit with the management and supporters and the Hillsborough man is primed to help Lee Feeney’s side push on next term.

Cushnie arrived at Bangor after rising through the ranks at The BetMcLean Oval, playing over 60 times for the east Belfast establishment while also spending time away in loan spells with Ards and Dungannon Swifts, and the versatile attacker who also earned plaudits for his work-rate and application has now committed his future to Clandeboye Park on a long-term basis. Congratulations Ben!

(Posted: Saturday, 18th May 2024)

Bangor FC Ladies manager Chris Dougan believes a quick turnaround of fixtures, starting with Friday night’s trip to Valley Rangers Ladies in the Electric Ireland Women’s Challenge Cup, is handy for his side to return to winning ways and show their mettle.

The Seasiders travel to Kilkeel to face the Division Five side (7:30pm) before a double-header in the NIWFA Championship, firstly hosting Ballymena United Women on Sunday (2:30pm) before heading to south Down on Wednesday night to play Camlough Rovers Ladies (7:30pm). Dougan feels the players can hit back in a tricky set of fixtures and is putting his focus firstly on sealing progression in the women’s equivalent of the Irish Cup.

“I think it suits us perfectly, having that quick turnaround, and we definitely showed that last week when we hit back from losing on penalties to Ballymena on the Monday to winning on the Wednesday against Comber with a really professional performance.

“It’s going to be a tough run for us, we’re playing Ballymena on Sunday and we know what they’re about, so we’re looking forward to getting a response against them in the league.

“But we have the cup game first on Friday, it’s a long trip to make and we know we can’t take anything for granted.

“We want to progress in the cups and we’ve been putting in really positive performances to start the year, we’ll make sure we keep it up and, hopefully, at the end of this run of games, we’ll have three wins out of three.”

Chris Dougan

(Posted: Friday, 17th May 2024)

Bangor FC are delighted to confirm the arrival of striker Matthew Ferguson in a high-profile first bit of off-season business at Clandeboye Park.

The ace marksman, who joins after five and a half years with fellow Playr-Fit Championship club Harland and Wolff Welders, links up with the Seasiders on the back of a 2023/24 campaign when he led the Championship scoring charts jointly alongside Dundela loanee Jordan Jenkins on 23, which itself followed a 26-goal scoring spree in 2022/23 when he was runner-up for the Golden Boot behind current Newry City forward Adam Salley.

Ferguson (28), who is the son of Glenn ‘Spike’ Ferguson – one of the Irish League’s most feared goal-getters who hit 285 strikes across over 500 appearances in his career – has adopted his famous father’s nickname and possesses the same predatory instincts as the former Linfield and Glenavon hero.

The Dundonald man, who enjoyed spells in the youth set-ups at Glentoran and Ballymena United, emulated his dad when he briefly played in the Premiership for the Lurgan Blues in early 2019, the only interruption to his time in east Belfast with the Welders who he joined from Lisburn Distillery in January of that year.

After netting 69 goals in total across 90 appearances for Paul Kee’s outfit – indeed, his rise to prominence came after a serious injury and going two and a half years between Irish League appearances from February 2020 to October 2022 – Ferguson now links up with Lee Feeney at Bangor understandably keen to pick up where he has left off.

Welcome to Bangor, Matthew!

(Posted: Friday, 17th May 2024)

Friday, May 17 – Valley Rangers Ladies vs Bangor FC Ladies, Electric Ireland Women’s Challenge Cup Preliminary Round, Bignian Park, 7:30pm

Bangor FC Ladies turn their attention to the Electric Ireland Women’s Challenge Cup on Friday night when they take on Valley Rangers at Bignian Park.

The Preliminary Round clash with the Kilkeel outfit, who play in the NIWFA Division Five – five leagues below the Seasiders – should pose an interesting test for Chris Dougan’s side, who are well-rested with nine days having passed since their most recent outing, the 5-4 home defeat to Ballyclare Comrades Ladies last Wednesday.

This outing against Valley, who are the early league leaders in Division Five, kickstarts a run of three matches in just five days, with a home duel against Ballymena United Women next up at Clandeboye Park on Sunday before a long-haul trip to Camlough Rovers next midweek – both in the NIWFA Championship – following up.

Dougan is naturally eyeing a return to winning ways against Valley first of all, but he and his players will take nothing for granted as they aim to progress on the cup front early this term.

(Posted: Thursday, 16th May 2024)

Bangor Reserves hosted their Awards night at Teddy’s Restaurant on Saturday night as the achievements of the season just past were celebrated. Hoisting aloft individual prizes were forward Charley Craig, who notched up the top scorer award for a second straight season, midfielder Ethan Scott – named Player of the Year and Manager’s Player of the Year – and versatile defender Ryan Nixon, who clinched the Young Player of the Year accolade after a breakthrough season.

18-year-old Craig, who scored 28 goals in all for the Reserves, also notched up a couple of first-team appearances this term when he featured in the 4-0 Playr-Fit Championship win away to Annagh United in November and the 2-1 Irish Cup defeat to Portadown in February on the back of his consistent scoring exploits for the second string throughout 2023/24.

Scott, a dependable performer for a number of years within Bangor’s youth set-up and who was named on the bench for the County Antrim Shield last-16 trip to Larne in October, was a mainstay in the centre of the park, and the 20-year-old captained the side in their 4-2 defeat to Institute on Friday night which showcases both his leadership and consistency this season.

Meanwhile, newcomer Nixon (17), who can play both at centre-back and right-back, made his first-team debut in the 4-0 victory over Ballyclare Comrades at Clandeboye Park in late February and impressed as an injury-enforced replacement for Howard Beverland on the back of his displays for the Reserves.

Congratulations to the award winners and to the team for delivering another promising and successful campaign!

(Posted: Sunday, 12th May 2024)

We celebrated the end of the 2023/24 season last night with dinner & awards in our Social Club.

Thanks to everyone who supported the event and congratulations to all of the award winners:

(Posted: Sunday, 12th May 2024)

Bangor Reserves finished up their Championship/PIL Development League campaign with a 4-2 defeat on the road, with Institute U21 emerging victorious at Melvin Sports Complex on Friday night.

The young Seasiders, who travelled to Strabane hoping to end the season with a victory, had an uphill battle from early on, with the home side having established a three-goal advantage by the half-hour mark, and they extended that to four on 59 minutes to leave their visitors chasing in the final 30 minutes of the match.

David Downes’ charges did hit back, with centre-back Jack McCosh firstly replying on 68 minutes with a bullet header from a corner before Mitchel Watterson converted from a Charley Craig cross two minutes later to halve the deficit, but that proved as good as it got for the visitors on the night – a four-hour-round trip – with midfielder Watterson red-carded on 73 minutes following two bookable offences.

As a result, the Reserves end on 65 points from their 28 league games played this term, with 21 wins in that span as well as two draws and five defeats, and boss Downes will be keen for his players to mount a fresh title charge in 2024/25 after Harland and Wolff Welders U21 took the crown in the end.

(Posted: Sunday, 12th May 2024)

Friday, May 10 – Institute U21 vs Bangor Reserves, Championship/PIL Development League, Melvin Sports Complex, 8pm

Bangor Reserves pull the curtain on their 2023/24 Championship/PIL Development League season when they travel to the Melvin Sports Complex to face Institute U21.

The young Seasiders, who are second, will bid to sign off the campaign with three points in a long-haul trip for a Friday night, covering 200 miles to Strabane and back where they contest with ‘Stute in a clash rescheduled from earlier in the term.

After the first clash at the Brandywell was postponed midway through the season amid an icy spell in the winter, their last game of the campaign, which comes three weeks on from their home clash with PSNI when eight different scorers marked the scoresheet in an 8-0 success, is a chance for David Downes’ current second-placed outfit to enjoy a winning end against a team they beat 1-0 back in November courtesy of Jay Boyd’s 35th-minute finish.

With that in mind, the north west club are expected to pose a stern test of their credentials and will likewise build towards a happy ending – this is their third-from-last game and they have won each of the last five, including successive 8-1 away wins over Lisburn Distillery U21 and PSNI – and Downes will have his charges fired up to deliver in expectation of a tough challenge to close out.

(Posted: Friday, 10th May 2024)

It was goals galore at Clandeboye Park but no cigar for Bangor FC Ladies, who were defeated 5-4 in the NIWFA Championship by Ballyclare Comrades Ladies for their first league defeat of the season on Wednesday night. Ballyclare wasted no time in asserting their presence on the contest, slotting home with just 23 seconds played, and they doubled their lead shortly before the 20-minute mark when Giulia McLaughlin was adjudged to have committed a foul inside the penalty area and the resulting effort from 12 yards was converted.

Bangor roared back into proceedings on 29 minutes when Lydia Clarke raced behind the Comrades' defensive line and won a spot-kick of her own after being felled, with Amber Dempster ruthlessly powering into the bottom right corner, but Ballyclare restored their two-goal advantage when a low shot was placed into the bottom left across the face of goal. The Seasiders had a response to this, too, though, with Erin Hennity's first goal of the season making it 3-2 after Emi Wynne skipped by a few challenges to cross.

The visitors retook the lead seven minutes into the second half, but again Bangor just wouldn't go away; just before the hour, it was Dempster again, and on 80 minutes, the waves of Bangor pressure paid dividends and a delivery into the box from the right-hand side by Hennity instead floated its way into the bottom left corner and the match was tied.

In a game that always maintained plenty of twists and turns, there was one more as a Bangor offside trap was beaten and the Ballyclare forward slotted home on 86 minutes for what proved the winner, inflicting a first defeat of the season on the Seasiders after this nine-goal thriller.


Bangor FC Ladies manager Chris Dougan admits he was left disappointed after his team fell just the wrong side of a nine-goal thriller at Clandeboye Park on Wednesday night.

The Seasiders tasted defeat for the first time in the 2024 NIWFA Championship season when Ballyclare Comrades Ladies wrapped up the three points with a ding-dong 5-4 win.

After three consecutive successes to begin the campaign and, indeed, Dougan’s managerial reign in the league, Bangor conceded just 23 seconds into this end-to-end battle, and the nature of the Ballyclare goals across the 90 minutes frustrated the boss given they were “very preventable”.

Although nine points from 12 is still a hot return to start the 2024 term, Dougan insists it was a result that keeps the players’ heads on the grounds and prepared for tests to come – and if they iron out such errors and build on their strengths, they will continue to be tough to stop.

“Yeah, I think the key word for us is disappointment.

“We’ve started off brilliantly all year, we’ve had a run of games, we’ve controlled every game we’ve played so far, and tonight, we started off far too slowly. We were architects of our own downfall. Four of the five goals, you could say, were our own mistakes. Things that were very preventable, and on the night, you don’t make three or four of those; we need to take control of what we do, take control of our own destiny.

“If we can control the things that we do well, control how the game’s played and just get on with it, do our own job, we’ll be fine. We can’t blame ourselves, blame each other, blame anybody else for when mistakes do happen, it’s part of football. We just have to get on with it, focus on our own jobs on the pitch, and we’ll be fine.”

Chris Dougan

With a quick turnaround that sees them firstly travel to Bignian Park in Kilkeel to take on Valley Rangers in the Women’s Challenge Cup next Friday before successive duels in the league against Ballymena United (home, next Sunday) and Camlough Rovers (away, Wednesday, May 22), Dougan feels this plays into his side’s hands and gives the squad an opportunity to show lessons have been learned quickly.

“We’ll bounce back, we’ve got three games coming up very quickly. One game doesn’t define our season. Just like against Ballymena last week, after the nature of how we lost that game and coming back to put on a really good performance against Comber, it’s good to have the chance to hit back quickly and put a run of results together.

“I thought the girls showed resilience and character to come back into the game after the slow start, and we’re still learning, it’s our second season in the league, so you’re always taking new things on board.

“If this is our only defeat, or one of a few defeats, that we have across the entire season and we show that we’ve taken things on board going forward to get points on the board and put performances in, I’ll take this and look at it as a point when we were stronger for it.

“The ambition for us is to play Premiership football and you need to take things on board at this level if you want to set yourself up for that, so we’ll take tonight and work on what we need to work on and, hopefully, use this run of games coming up gives us the chance to get back to winning ways.”

Chris Dougan

(Posted: Friday, 10th May 2024)

Ahead of the end-of-season Awards on Saturday evening, Bangor manager Lee Feeney has praised his players for their endeavours throughout the 2023/24 season and insists their hard work has made the Seasiders faithful “proud of their club”. The Kilkeel man, who is four years into his tenure as boss at Clandeboye Park, believes that the message from the coaching staff to the players – to be competitive in their first season back in the Championship – was fulfilled in full and showcased by a third-placed finish and narrowly missing out on the promotion play-off.

Feeney paid tribute to his players’ efforts and the supporters for coming out in their droves to back the team, and he adds he is looking forward to celebrating the side’s achievements with a keen eye on making more special memories next season and in the years to come.

A squad built on hard work and character, Feeney also says these traits will again need to be shown in abundance should the Yellows aim to hold their own and fight at the summit again in a league that will feature three new sides – Newry City, who have dropped down from the Premiership, and Premier Intermediate League champions Limavady United and play-off winners Armagh City.

“Everyone around the club is obviously a bit disappointed at the way the season ended, that we couldn’t get that place in the promotion play-off. But I think as well, we surprised a lot of people to be in that position, and that’s testament and a credit to the players and the work they’ve put in. That was the only thing I asked of the players at the start of the season, to be competitive, and we were that, we absolutely were. We knew we’d have to be that if we wanted to get results, and I’m very proud of the work every player has put in this season to be as successful as we have been. I think they’ve given the supporters a club to be proud of, a club they’re proud to support, and the supporters are proud of the players because of the work they put in each and every week and their performances on the pitch.

“I’m really looking forward to the Awards, I look forward to it every year. It’s a chance to celebrate the players’ achievements across the season and have a bit of craic, and obviously, it’s when we can celebrate the players who do win the awards at the end of the season. Unfortunately, we can’t give awards to everyone, not every player is going to get an award on the night, but for me, everyone deserves an award for the work put in to make it a really memorable season.

“We’re looking forward to next season as well, and we know it’s going to be even tougher next season and we’re going to have to work even harder to get results; it’s going to be a tough, tough league with lots of very good sides, and we’ll have to be on top of ourselves. But I can guarantee you, at the first home game of next season, there’s going to be a big crowd, a decent crowd backing the players, and we know we’ll have to produce the goods week in, week out to keep those big crowds coming.

“I’ve talked to a few people from outside the club who have been really impressed by our support and the numbers we’ve been bringing to games, and they always come out in big numbers home and away to support us and I think the players have done them proud. There’s a lot of positive vibes around the club. Last year when we were coming into the league, we were positive about what we could achieve, and the players ticked every box.

“In my opinion, the players would’ve deserved to play in the play-off, and sometimes you don’t always get what you deserve in football, but I couldn’t ask any more of them; we’d asked them to be competitive and they were. This year, again, we’re positive about what we can achieve, we believe we can have even more moments for the supporters to celebrate and we’re already working on next season and we can’t wait for pre-season to start.

“The players have earned a bit of a break, we’ll all enjoy the Awards night and celebrate the work that’s went in and we’ll be ready to go again.”

Lee Feeney

(Posted: Wednesday, 8th May 2024)

Wednesday, May 8 – Bangor FC Ladies vs Ballyclare Comrades Ladies, NIWFA Championship, Clandeboye Park, 7:30pm

Bangor FC Ladies are back in NIWFA Championship action on Wednesday night and will bid to keep up their perfect opening to the 2024 league season when they take on Ballyclare Comrades Ladies.

In a clash of last campaign’s second and third-placed sides, it was the Seasiders who last got the better of Ballyclare when the clubs met in the PwC Super Cup semi-final at Clandeboye Park, and Chris Dougan will look for his side to repeat that famous 3-2 success at the same venue this week. Bangor will also look to keep hold of top spot, which they have on goal difference and share with St James’ Swifts and Ballymena United who also maintain 100 per cent standings at the summit after three outings, and build on the previous week’s impressive 6-0 victory against Comber Rec Ladies last time out.

Midfielder Amanda Morton, who scored her first goal for the club off the bench in that game, is expecting a difficult test against the Comrades.

“Ballyclare have been a Championship team for a long time and they have the quality of players to be competitive at the top of the table.

“They’ll be strong, and they’ll be a good challenge for us.

“But, I think as long as we keep doing the things that Chris (Dougan, manager) is asking us to do, we’ll be in a brilliant position to get a result.”

Amanda Morton

(Posted: Tuesday, 7th May 2024)

Bangor FC Ladies pair Amanda Morton and Leah Robinson both pointed out the importance of returning to winning ways on Wednesday evening following the penalty shoot-out defeat to Ballymena United in the cup a couple of nights earlier.

Former Larne and Crusaders midfielder Morton netted her first goal for the club during the 6-0 NIWFA Championship success over Comber Rec, heading home from close range on 63 minutes for the Seasiders’ fourth goal of the night, while Robinson’s brace off the bench wrapped up the goal count to bring the versatile forward’s tally to three for the 2024 season.

That came after the Seasiders were defeated 4-2 penalties following a 1-1 draw after extra-time at the Warden Street Showgrounds in the NIWFA Championship Cup on Monday, and hitting back was the perfect tonic for the side who retain a perfect nine points from nine in league play having scored 21 goals in the process.

Morton, however, believes there are still gears for the Yellows to go through and that there can be even more clinical edge at the sharp end.

“I think that was kind of the message in the changing room, that we’re glad we’re back so soon to shake the cobwebs off from Monday night and get scoring goals again, so it was good. The turnaround was tight, but it was good for us, I think.

“I think we had, I’d say, 80 per cent of the possession and they got in our box once or twice in the game. So, it shows that we are dominating possession, but I think everybody would like a few more goals – saying that after a 6-0 win is a pretty good thing, to be honest.

“It’s good to get my first goal, I hope to get a lot more of them, but assisting’s good, too; I had a couple of assists this week and last week. So, just, anything I can do, whether it’s scoring goals or passing to other people to score goals, I’m happy to do it.

“What I liked about Bangor coming in was the level of professionalism they already have, players on the pitch hold really high standards for themselves, the coaching staff hold really high standards for us and the club do in general.

“To be honest, it’s not been a difficult transition because I think Bangor are already showing some of the assets that Premier League clubs would have. I still think we can up it, and again, when you play teams like Ballymena (as on Monday night), we need to be scoring goals and getting on target, so our conversion rate would need to increase a little bit.

“But I think we’re doing all the right things, getting there, third game of the season, so we’ll get there.”

Amanda Morton

Robinson, meanwhile, reflected on overcoming a rocky start to proceedings at Clandeboye Park when Comber put the pressure on early – but the opener, scored by Janine Jess and followed up by an Amber Dempster brace, was a nerve-settler and had them on their way.

“Absolutely, taking that defeat on Monday night was tough, but we came tonight and we wanted to put that behind us, just go out and get a few goals in. You know, work on that from Monday night, we’d a few fresh legs on the pitch, Ashleigh (Scott-Brown) making her first start, Emi (Wynne) coming on at half-time, absolutely super performance.

“Yeah, it was good, I was happy to get two goals in coming on as a sub as well. It’s good to get another two goals this year, it’s things that we’ve worked on in training, just being able to put that into effect in a match, it’s brilliant.

“It was a bit of a shaky start, didn’t start too quick, but once we got that (first) goal in, we picked up a bit more. We kept building on that, playing our football, working around Comber, and yeah, we just found our feet then and put another few goals in.

“Still feel like we could’ve had a few more goals tonight, but we’re happy with the win, and we’ll keep working on that in training, we’ll keep working on our finishing, and hopefully, we can keep picking up points on the board.”

Leah Robinson

(Posted: Friday, 3rd May 2024)

Bangor FC Ladies recovered from the cup exit on penalties to remain the early pacesetters on top of the NIWFA Championship following an impressive 6-0 victory over Comber Rec Ladies at Clandeboye Park on Wednesday night, with nine points out of nine and having scored 21 goals in the process as well as a second straight clean sheet in the league.

It was a shaky start for the Seasiders, who had to fend off a fierce early wave of pressure and navigate an end-to-end opening 20 minutes with goalkeeper Giulia McLaughlin called into action to make sure Comber were kept at bay, but Janine Jess' fourth goal of the season – and fourth consecutive goalscoring game in the process – proved just the nerve-settler the home side needed.

Jess' long-range effort on 24 minutes was followed by Amber Dempster sliding low into the bottom right corner 10 minutes later that made it a two-goal lead at the halfway mark. Dempster added a third, a shot across the goal that fizzed through the Comber stopper's fingers and into the top left on 55 minutes, and eight minutes after that, there was a first goal in yellow and blue for Amanda Morton who headed into the net from close range.

A late brace by Leah Robinson rounded off the goal count, the forward firstly firing low into the net with a deft side-footed finish on 79 minutes before, five minutes from time, powerfully drilling the ball low into the net from Dempster's cut-back from the byline. That made it a six-goal display and, in a professional success, keeps Bangor perfect to start the 2024 NIWFA Championship campaign off.

(Posted: Thursday, 2nd May 2024)

Bangor FC Ladies bowed out of the NIWFA Championship Cup on Monday night following a penalty shoot-out defeat to Ballymena United FC Women – but produced a spirited display that will bode well for the rest of the campaign.

The Seasiders travelled to the Warden Street Showgrounds for what they knew would be a tough assignment against last term’s relegated Sports Direct Premiership outfit, but almost immediately after the restart following a first half where the Sky Blues stopper was tested the more regularly of the two and Bangor had strung many positive passages together, midfielder Janine Jess powered home a far-post header for her third goal in as many games to give the visitors the lead.

However, the hosts conjured up a response and found a leveller when Katie Wallace found the net at the back stick with 13 minutes left to play, prodding home from close range, and after the sides were thereafter unable to be split in the remainder, extra-time was required with the closest chance during the 20-minute additional spell coming with virtually the last kick of the first half when Amber Dempster side-footed agonisingly over from Emi Wynne’s crafty delivery from the right-hand side.

It remained level and the match went to penalties, with Amanda Morton – making her full debut for Bangor in this encounter – and Dempster hitting the target, but Megan Gore and Erin Hennity were both denied as United scored all four of their spot-kicks to progress to the competition’s next round.


Bangor FC Ladies boss Chris Dougan admits that a lack of cutting edge in front of goal proved costly in the NIWFA Championship Cup loss on penalties to Ballymena United FC Women on Monday evening but saw a strong effort and performance across the pitch to suggest that his players will be the stronger despite the outcome.

With the score level at 1-1 after 110 gruelling minutes at the Warden Street Showgrounds, a dramatic climax resulted in United prevailing 4-2 on spot-kicks to advance to the competition quarter-finals where they will face Foyle Belles. The Seasiders took the lead on 46 minutes through midfielder Janine Jess but Katie Wallace’s leveller just over half an hour later forced extra-time and later penalties where the Sky Blues just held the edge, with Megan Gore and Erin Hennity’s denials from 12 yards proving crucial as Ballymena scored all four of their kicks.

Dougan, who saw his side enjoy plenty of possession and a number of presentable chances, was keen to focus on where the points for development can be built upon, as a league duel against Comber Rec beckons on Wednesday night where things can be put right once more.

“Yeah, we dominated the whole first half, I think we had probably 90 per cent of the ball, we had the ball in the right areas.

“We outthought them, outplayed them, outperformed them… we just lacked a little bit of a clinical edge tonight.

“The girls worked unbelievably hard and one mistake at the back throughout the whole game, let them back into it, became 1-1, the keeper (Giulia McLaughlin) didn’t really have to make a save, so, very disappointing.

“But it’s more about the girls’ bouncebackability now, we have a fantastic group there, great attitude, great togetherness, and penalties are a horrible way to go out, but if we were more ruthless earlier on, we don’t have to leave it to that.

“I couldn’t be prouder of all their efforts tonight, every single one of them put in a brilliant shift, played for each other, played for the badge, represented us brilliantly.

“Giulia, superb. She was close to saving all four penalties, you couldn’t ask for any more, they struck them well, she went the right way and I thought overall, our whole team from front to back, not one player should be leaving with their head held down. Brilliant team performance.

“We’re a strong team, we’ve been here before, we’ll have disappointments. That’s football.

“But we’ll go back again, that was a big game tonight but it sets us up brilliantly for the rest of the season.

“Good challenge (against Ballymena), the girls are strong, they’re mentally strong and they’ll look to bounce back against Comber and really put a performance together to go out and set the league on fire.”

Chris Dougan

(Posted: Tuesday, 30th April 2024)

Monday, April 29 – Ballymena United FC Women vs Bangor FC Ladies, NIWFA Championship Cup, Warden Street Showgrounds, 7:30pm

It’s a first foray into cup action this season for Bangor FC Ladies, who travel to the Ballymena Showgrounds on Monday night for a tricky encounter with Ballymena United Women in the NIWFA Championship Cup.

The Seasiders, who have kickstarted the season in fine fashion having scored 15 goals across their opening two matches, face the side they are level on points with at the top of the table early in 2024.

Ballymena, who were relegated from the Sports Direct Women’s Premiership and have kept hold of the bulk of the side that plied their trade in last year’s top-flight, are targeting an immediate bounce back and have began the campaign with successes over Belfast Celtic Ladies (2-1) and Sion Swifts Ladies (3-2).

After also despatching Bloomfield FC Ladies in the County Antrim Cup on Friday evening, the Sky Blues are in high spirits and have the talent to ask questions of Chris Dougan’s Yellows at the Warden Street venue, but the manager’s players have hit the goal trail early and are keen to extend that vein. Performances have indicated that 2023’s success under Ethan Boylan is being built on and there can be further evidence of that provided in the form of cup progression here.

(Posted: Sunday, 28th April 2024)

Bangor agonisingly missed out on a Premiership promotion play-off place by a hair on Friday night following an attack-minded and nerve-wracking goalless draw with Annagh United at the BMG Arena on the final day of the Playr-Fit Championship.

Both the Seasiders and their hosts huffed and puffed for a winner in Portadown knowing it was winner-takes-all for the play-off – if there was a victor, they would categorically face up to Ballymena United over two legs with a top-flight spot at stake – but neither side could break the other down and, with Institute scoring an added-time winner just a mile up the road at Shamrock Park against the champion Ports, there were hands on heads and players on their knees wherever you looked as both fell just short.

Michael Harris found the net for Stute deep into proceedings – they needed to win and hope for a draw in this clash, and fate fell kindly for Kevin Deery’s men, who will face the Sky Blues for the right to play Premiership football next term. Both Bangor and Annagh, who have played each of the last two play-off series against first Portadown and then Dungannon Swifts, were left with disappointing ends to highly creditable seasons – indeed, the Yellows finished on 68 points and third-place in their first season since their promotion from the PIL.

There were chances throughout for Ben Arthurs, Ben Cushnie, Lewis Francis and a last-gasp curler from Conor McDermott that inched past the post, while some last-ditch defending in the Seasiders’ rearguard was also needed and an inspired performance from former Bangor goalkeeper Jason Craughwell in the Annagh goal is also worthy of credit, with the Seasiders’ main focus after a well-earned break being to prepare for a second season of Championship football and hope to be fighting near the summit once more.

GARY'S MATCH GALLERY

BANGOR TEAM:
M.Orbinson, H.Beverland(J.Hughes), R.Neale, L.Francis, B.Walker(C.McDermott), B.Cushnie, T.Mulvenna, S.McArthur(A.Neale), B.Arthurs, T.Mathieson(M.Halliday).
Subs: McConkey, S.Foster, D.Hume

(Posted: Friday, 26th April 2024)

Friday, April 26 – Annagh United vs Bangor, Playr-Fit Championship, BMG Arena, 7:45pm

Bangor pull the curtain down on their Playr-Fit Championship season tonight when they travel to the BMG Arena for a winner-takes-all showdown against Annagh United.

There’s a lot riding on this clash, with the winner (if there is one) going on to face Ballymena United in the Premiership Promotion/Relegation Play-Off, while a draw on the Tandragee Road would also suit the Seasiders owing to their vastly superior goal difference should Institute fail to beat newly crowned champions Portadown at nearby Shamrock Park.

It promises to be a night of tension for both sides but, on the back of consecutive victories over Harland and Wolff Welders (3-0) and Dundela (3-1) as well as last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Institute at the Ryan McBride Brandywell, Bangor will enter this tricky clash with Ciaran McGurgan’s men in confident mood and believing that they can book a double date with the Sky Blues in the first season back in senior football. With Ben Cushnie cancelling out Oisin Devlin’s opener in the north west last time out for his second goal in as many games, the Yellows will want to return to winning ways against an opponent they have registered three wins out of three against to date.

Lee Feeney will also be very wary, though – Annagh have won four times on the bounce in the split, all of them away from home, and ever since Lewis Francis’ double proved enough to defeat them 2-1 back on December 30, the Co Armagh side have lost just once since and thrust themselves into a position where a third consecutive play-off is within their grasp. No chances can be taken on what is a huge night for the club.

(Posted: Friday, 26th April 2024)

Bangor made it back-to-back victories to begin the 2024 NIWFA Championship season when they emerged 9-0 winners over Foyle Belles at Clandeboye Park on Wednesday night, added to the previous week’s 6-1 success away to St Oliver Plunkett Ladies in what has proved to be an impressive start in charge for manager Chris Dougan.

The Seasiders opened the scoring on 11 minutes through a delicate Amber Dempster chip as she was sent behind the line, with teenager Emi Wynne bagging a superb brace that made it three by the 24th minute, picking out the bottom left corner on both occasions with a couple of well-taken finishes.

On 29 minutes, Janine Jess netted her second goal in as many games when she thundered a low effort into the net through a crowd, establishing a four-goal lead at the break. Dempster powered in a second goal for herself into the bottom left 18 minutes into the second period, twisting and turning before finding the bottom corner in stylish fashion, while Jodie Shannon added a sixth 20 yards out from goal seven minutes later.

What followed was a late salvo in added-time, as new signing Ashleigh Scott-Brown scored a couple of goals off the bench in the second and sixth minutes of stoppage, sandwiching Leah Robinson’s close-range effort for her first goal of the season in the fourth minute of added-time that secured the three points for Bangor.

(Posted: Thursday, 25th April 2024)

Wednesday, April 24 – Bangor FC Ladies vs Foyle Belles, NIWFA Championship, Clandeboye Park, 7:30pm

Bangor FC Ladies march on with their NIWFA Championship exploits at Clandeboye Park on Wednesday night when they host Foyle Belles, hopeful of building on last week’s impressive opening victory over St Oliver Plunkett Ladies in Crumlin.

The Seasiders, who picked up three well-earned points courtesy of a comeback 6-1 success over the newly promoted west Belfast side and face familiar foes this week, with Foyle the seventh-placed side in last year’s second-tier and who Bangor despatched thanks to a goal-filled 12-2 triumph in the home clash last August.

Following the win over Plunkett, achieved following a first-half hat-trick by Amber Dempster and finishes from Toni Stewart, Janine Jess and Evarose Martin having went behind early on, manager Chris Dougan is in high spirits after his first competitive victory since taking the hotseat and is confident that three-pointer can be built on when the Yellows return home.

And having kickstarted in the right way with ambitions of fighting at the top end of the table again following last term’s third-placed finish, plus the potential of a big home crowd to will the players on, Bangor can add momentum to their early charge and construct a two-game winning streak as a platform to go off.


Bangor FC Ladies boss Chris Dougan insists the commanding opening victory over St Oliver Plunkett should be the springboard for further success ahead of Wednesday night’s home clash with Foyle Belles.

The Ladies’ first competitive fixture at Clandeboye Park in 2024 pits them against the pink-shirted north west outfit, with Dougan believing this second NIWFA Championship outing presents another chance to make a statement of intent. He says the approach is simply to “press reset” and go for glory once again, adding that he will strive for improvement even with last week’s 6-1 win at Crumlin Leisure Centre in mind.

“Press reset. We’ve had our first big one out of the way, potential banana skin out of the way, a newly promoted team.

“So, we go on Sunday, we train again, we press the reset button and we do what we do, practise what we’ve trained at.

“We’ll look at and analyse that game, there’s always things that we want to improve and we’ll go and work on those and, hopefully…

“Foyle’s got a big travel, and they won’t want to play us after how we did last year, so if we can go and put another statement out to the league that Bangor’s here to be a serious contender, that’s what’s going to motivate us every day.

“We’ve got some great new staff working with us as well, these guys are superb, couldn’t ask any more.”

Chris Dougan

(Posted: Tuesday, 23rd April 2024)

Bangor’s goal hero at Institute Ben Cushnie admits he is satisfied with a point from the visit to a sunny Ryan McBride Brandywell on Saturday afternoon.

The 22-year-old forward delivered a leveller for the Seasiders five minutes out from the end of the first half in response to Oisin Devlin’s deadlock-breaker for ‘Stute, and after the half-time pause, Cushnie felt the visitors would have been worth a victory as centre-back Lewis Francis narrowly missed the mark from a last-gasp free-kick initially soared in by Ben Walker. But a point keeps the Seasiders’ fate entirely within their own grasp; they are second-place in the Playr-Fit Championship still and know that victory at Annagh United on Friday night – irrespective of results elsewhere – will book a two-legged slot against Ballymena United in the promotion/relegation play-off.

Glentoran loanee Cushnie, who hit his sixth goal of a somewhat injury-disrupted season by connecting to Francis’ flick-on 40 minutes into proceedings, insists that after a rocky start, a draw was the least Bangor deserved on their trip to the north west against the only opponent that has went unbeaten in their clashes with the Seasiders across this term.

“I think we probably did (deserve a bit more from the game); the second half, I thought we dominated a lot of the play.

“The first 15 minutes, we struggled to settle into the game a bit. Obviously, we were coming into a tough place, big pitch, good side… early on, they were playing the ball over the top of the defence quite a lot and it wasn’t easy trying to stop that. We settled more after the (Institute goal), we began to play our own game a bit more and we got the equaliser.

“It doesn’t matter who gets the goals, just that you do get them, but for me, it’s two in two, I was in the right place for it and I feel I’ve been getting sharper in front of goal every week.

“Second half, we started it and continued in the same way that we’d ended the first, we kept control of the game, we had good possession and we managed the game well, made sure we didn’t give too much away and the defence wasn’t under too much pressure.

“Obviously, Lewis has the chance at the end, the free-kick fell nicely for him and he had the chance, but it wasn’t to be. The goals he’s scored this season, all the goals he scored coming up from the back, you’d probably have bet your house on him scoring there, but I think the ball was just a bit too far ahead of him in the end.

“But, obviously, going into the game, it was must-not-lose, so I think a draw was probably a fair enough result as well. We came in knowing ‘Stute have had a good record against us this season and they’ve been tough enough games, I think they also have a good home record this season as well, so we’ll take a point that keeps things in our hands and try to do the job against Annagh next week.”

Ben Cushnie

Having played 86 minutes of the 3-1 victory against Dundela at Wilgar Park the previous weekend, his neat free-kick kickstarting the comeback in east Belfast with Francis and Ben Arthurs adding to the goal haul, Cushnie got another 84 minutes in the book on Saturday.

Lee Feeney has been pleased to have the Hillsborough man at his disposal and fit and firing at a crucial point in the season, and with more than 60 appearances for the Glens under his belt, Cushnie’s pedigree at the top level has the tools to prove difference-making come this pulsating climax.

The striker adds that the strength of character in the dressing room furthers his belief that even if Bangor find parts of the going tough at the BMG Arena against Annagh, the panel is still able to weather any storms they face.

“Feeno had said in one of his previous interviews, I was building my way up to match fitness again, and I can feel that myself every week.

“I’ve had two games in a row now where I’ve played close to the full 90 minutes, probably as close as I’ve got throughout the season, so I’m feeling sharp and I’ve got a few goals and got a bit of momentum.

“We went 1-0 down away against the Duns at half-time, came back, won; we’ve went 1-0 down here, good side, big pitch, came back and got a draw that means it’s in our hands (play-off) going into the final day.

“I think that shows the character of the team and the mentalities that we have, we have the people in the squad that can go out and get results, and everyone has that responsibility in the team across all areas of the pitch.

“For me personally, I’m a player that can contribute more than goals and can do other stuff in the game as well, work hard for the team, and we all work for each other to get results.”

Ben Cushnie

(Posted: Monday, 22nd April 2024)

Congratulations to James Taylor, Reece Neale, Lewis Francis and Scott McArthur who picked up their awards last night for being selected in the NI Football League Championship Team of the Season.

Well done!

(Posted: Sunday, 21st April 2024)

Bangor Reserves closed out their home slate of matches in Championship/PIL Development League in some style, with eight different goal-getters putting their name on the scoresheet during Saturday morning’s 8-0 rout of PSNI Olympic at Clandeboye Park.

The Seasiders, who had earlier in the season despatched the Police side 10-0 at Breda Park, ran goal crazy in this encounter and maintained a clean sheet for their biggest home success of the season. Strikes from Callum Johnston, Jude Healy, Jack McCosh, Charley Craig, Caden McKee, Jay Boyd, Ruairi Wright and Mitchel Watterson sealed the deal for David Downes’ side in the end and ensures that, ahead of their final outing of the season at the Brandywell against Institute U21 on May 10, they kept their grip on second-place in the division.

Adding to the hard-fought success in midweek against Lisburn Distillery U21 when defender McCosh’s late strike kept the Yellows on the winning trail (3-2) despite being reduced to 10 men in the first half, Bangor look well-poised to end the season on a high and will go into that clash with ‘Stute buoyed by their return to form.

It also means they maintain a mathematical chance at title glory, too, although three defeats for league leaders H&W Welders U21 would be required for that to be so. In any case, their run of four three-pointers in a row after a rocky March inspires belief among the coaching staff and players that the best is still to come.

(Posted: Sunday, 21st April 2024)

Bangor’s promotion play-off destiny will both go right down to the final day and be entirely in their own hands following Saturday afternoon’s 1-1 draw with Institute at a sunny Ryan McBride Brandywell.

The Seasiders found themselves on the back foot just 15 minutes in when Oisin Devlin – the prodigious 17-year-old midfield talent who signed on a three-and-a-half-year deal with Larne in the January window – slid beyond James Taylor to break the deadlock for ‘Stute, but a fighting response from Lee Feeney’s men against the only team they had yet to defeat in this Playr-Fit Championship season yielded a point reward.

Ben Cushnie’s return to fitness has come as a big boost, and the Glentoran loanee struck a second goal in as many weeks five minutes before the end of the first period. A looping ball found Lewis Francis, and the centre-back hooked into the striker’s path to strike a decisive equaliser that ultimately was to remain until the end.

The popular Francis almost won it late on from a deflected Ben Walker free-kick but missed the mark at the death, and with the stalemate also confirming Portadown’s status as league champions in line with their 1-1 draw at home to Dundela, it means Bangor’s full focus is authentically on second-place. However, just a point separates the Seasiders, Dundela, Annagh (all 67) and Institute (66) ahead of what promises to be a nerve-jangling Friday night for the right to face Ballymena United in the two-legged shoot-out. The drama has only just begun.

GARY'S MATCH GALLERY

BANGOR TEAM:
J.Taylor, R.Neale, H.Beverland, L.Francis, B.Walker, L.Harrison(M.Bradley), T.Mulvenna, B.Cushnie(A.Neale), S.McArthur(J.Hughes), B.Arthurs, T.Mathieson.
Subs: McConkey, M.Halliday, D.Hume, G.Beattie

NEXT MATCH:
Friday, 26th April, ANNAGH UNITED v BANGOR, Championship, BMG ARENA, 7:45pm

(Posted: Saturday, 20th April 2024)

Bangor FC Ladies boss Chris Dougan toasted his first competitive victory as manager as one built on solid foundations, trust, familiarity and the freedom to play.

Having succeeded Ethan Boylan in the top job at the start of 2024, Dougan, stepping up from his assistant role, bagged an opening-day victory with a 6-1 success over St Oliver Plunkett in the NIWFA Championship on Wednesday night.

After Clodagh Mervyn’s opener for the west Belfast-based home team just 56 seconds into proceedings at Crumlin Leisure Centre, the Seasiders largely dominated the play thereafter, with Amber Dempster’s first-half hat-trick added to by strikes from teenagers Evarose Martin and Janine Jess as well as winger Toni Stewart that ultimately wrapped up a convincing win.

The NIWFA Division One champions had caused problems for Bangor in the not-too-distant past, but a display of heart, work-rate and energy – not to mention a number of exceptional sequences of football – meant the Yellows asserted their authority delighted Dougan, who also hailed how the new arrivals bedded into the fold.

“These guys have shown that they have the freedom now to go and play. They have the intensity to be competitive the whole way through the game, we’ve got the depth on the bench that they can come on and maintain (energy levels), or even change the game themselves.

“We’re very, very lucky with the girls that we do have, they followed the instructions and they know what to do. So, they worked their legs off in pre-season, they’ve kept the intensity through the roof and as you can see by the performance today, they trust each other.

“When you get that trust, they will go and play some beautiful football. They have that continuity, giving you a complete foundation about how you build a team this year. So, all the new girls coming in are five steps ahead because they’ve had everything built on by watching other players and understanding you’ve got perfect examples in front of you at all times.

“When they (existing players) come off, they (new players) can replicate that sort of way because they know what to do, they’ve seen it, we do it in training and the girls have all bought in and enjoying everything we do.

“When they’re playing happy… yeah, we conceded in one minute, from nerves, but after that, it was never a doubt. “I don’t think they had more than two or three shots at goal, and the girls could have been a bit more ruthless and it could’ve been an even bigger scoreline – fair play to them.”

Chris Dougan

Following a slender 3-2 victory for Bangor when they overcame Wednesday’s opponents in last season’s PwC Super Cup quarter-final at Sally Gardens in Poleglass, this fixture had the makings of a potential banana skin that the Seasiders could slip on if they weren’t careful. However, the professionalism of the performance and handling of the pressure of being a top-end team in the Championship both came in for huge praise from the manager.

“Massive banana skin, opening game, new team promoted, they’re going to be excited, they’re going to be up for the game. We’ve finally got the pressure on us to start performing because we performed so well last year, and the girls haven’t been stepping away from the pressure; they’re embracing it.

“They’re going, ‘We like to be the team that’s now being considered one of the top (teams), we’ll take that mantle, we’ll run with it’. Asked on whether he reads much into the league’s expansion to 10 teams from seven last year, Dougan adds: “No, not for me.

“I think it adds a bit more excitement, you’ve got a higher level of competition. But, the girls back themselves playing against competition from the top level, the girls are here to go and be competitive.

“I’m not sure if we will win it, but we’ll definitely be competitive and we’ve got great young players coming through that, in the next couple of years, can do some real damage as well.

“So, I’m more than happy with how they’re doing, they deserve the bigger league and they deserve more matches.”

Chris Dougan

(Posted: Saturday, 20th April 2024)

Saturday, April 20 – Bangor Reserves vs PSNI Olympic, Championship/PIL Development League, Clandeboye Park, 11am

It’s the second from last outing in the Championship/PIL Development League this Saturday for Bangor Reserves, who entertain PSNI Olympic at Clandeboye Park and will be determined to sign off their home slate of fixtures in 2023/24 with three points.

David Downes’ men were forced to battle for the maximum spoils in midweek when they edged a five-goal encounter with Lisburn Distillery at Wallace Park, with Jay Boyd’s header and Kristian Trainor’s composed penalty cancelled out by a pair of second-half finishes by the Whites that levelled the scores at 2-2 – Bangor had at this stage been reduced to 10 men, too, with centre-back Mackenzie Gray shown a straight red card during the first half.

But towering defender Jack McCosh notched up his third goal since arriving in January on 82 minutes and ultimately secured the victory, with their penultimate clash with PSNI allowing them to add a third straight triumph – four, if you count the win over Warrenpoint Town via forfeit – and maintain their grip on second-place, with Harland and Wolff Welders U21 still atop the table and two points ahead of the Yellows having played a couple of games fewer.

Capitalising on any potential slip-up is the principal aim for Downes and his charges come the business end, with the second string’s curtain-closing encounter not coming for another three weeks before they visit Institute at the Brandywell on May 10. Against the league’s third-from-bottom outfit, Bangor will back themselves against a side they overcame 10-0 early doors, but they will guard against complacency seeping in while there is still something to play for.

(Posted: Friday, 19th April 2024)

Saturday, April 20 – Institute vs Bangor, Playr-Fit Championship, Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium, 3pm

Bangor are in action for the penultimate time in the Playr-Fit Championship when they travel to the Ryan McBride Brandywell to face Institute – a crunch clash that could go a long way to deciding who competes in the promotion play-off versus, in all likelihood, Ballymena United.

The Seasiders enter Saturday afternoon’s encounter on the back of a stirring 3-1 comeback success away to Dundela last time out. After Jordan Jenkins handed the Duns the lead nine minutes in, a three-goal second half for Lee Feeney’s men in which Ben Cushnie, Lewis Francis and Ben Arthurs marked the scoresheet inspired an important win that leaves this weekend very finely poised.

The players will also be motivated to atone for their previous visit to the north west venue, a 4-0 reversal last October when Kirk McLaughlin’s second-half hat-trick added to Shaun Leppard’s headed opener for ‘Stute. Kevin Deery’s men (65 points) trail their visitors on Saturday (66) by a point and know victory is all but essential to have their play-off fate in their own hands next Friday, with Annagh United (64) – a point further back and on the road to Blanchflower Park where they play Harland and Wolff Welders – also in the frame in what is a pulsating race that’s guaranteed to go to the wire.

The players’ focus is firmly on this weekend and a big travelling support is expected to flock to the Brandywell to will Feeney and his charges to victory; this promises to be a pivotal and deciding duel in what truly feels like the business end.


LEE FEENEY - LOOKING FORWARD TO SATURDAY

There’s a certain word starting with ‘p’ on the lips of a lot of people around Bangor right now but manager Lee Feeney insists he’s not getting carried away ahead of Saturday’s trip to the Brandywell to take on Institute.

The Seasiders supremo, who takes his side into the penultimate Playr-Fit Championship duel of the season on the back of impressive 3-0 and 3-1 successes over east Belfast duo Harland and Wolff Welders and Dundela, believes his players will be fired up to deliver against ‘Stute, the only team in the division they have not got the better of.

The north west outfit won 1-0 a few weeks previously when Mikhail Kennedy headed home the only goal of the game just after the hour mark at Clandeboye Park, and Feeney – whose side lost 4-0 on their first trip back in October for what remains Bangor’s heaviest defeat in this campaign – says lessons have been learned and is in confident mood for this encounter.

The Kilkeel man also shed light on a conversation he had recently with John Boyle. The 38-year-old centre-back was a pivotal member of last term’s Steel and Sons Cup and Premier Intermediate League double-winning team, making 40 appearances and leading that squad for minutes played on 3,405, and the current Warrenpoint Town captain is a seasoned campaigner in the art of promotions through the NIFL pyramid – but after addressing that theme briefly, Feeney returned to present affairs.

“I was actually speaking to Boyler there, John Boyle over Easter. He’s been a bit of a specialist in promotions over the years, that was his sixth or seventh last year.

“He’s achieved promotion from the Championship four times, twice with Warrenpoint and twice with Newry, and he was telling me that while it was a nice feeling to win the division and make sure of it, the play-off just has a different feeling to it, and winning a play-off, it’s like winning a cup final.

“There’s a feeling with the play-off that it is a one-off, and anything can happen; any team can cause an upset on the day. But, that being said, we can’t think too far ahead of ourselves, and we have to put all our focus into winning this weekend. We just have to take it one game at a time, and it’s always been the approach that we’ve had, just to take each game as it comes.

“The last time we played Institute, I felt we were the better team in the game and we were unlucky to lose, and we’re motivated to put things right this time around.

“We went to Dundela knowing the last time we went there that we got beat, and we put in a really good performance to put things right there, and it’s the same going into this weekend.

“The last time we played Institute up there, it was a tough day for us and it was a lesson, but the players are motivated because we haven’t beaten them yet this season and we felt hard done by when they beat us last time.

“We’re not going to dwell on that result; we’re coming into this game on the back of two convincing victories and we need to keep the momentum going into this weekend.”

Lee Feeney

(Posted: Friday, 19th April 2024)

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Bangor Reserves in Lisburn on Wednesday evening, but they got the job done and secured a precious three points with a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Lisburn Distillery Reserves in Wallace Park.

The Seasiders were two to the good in a feisty enough first half that saw a number of meaty challenges, one which saw centre-back Mackenzie Gray given his marching orders following a high lunge around 10 minutes out from the interval. By that stage, the visitors were two to the good, with Jay Boyd heading home an early opener before Kristian Trainor slotted home a cool penalty after Jude Healy was upended in the penalty area by the Distillery goalkeeper when chasing a loose ball.

On a bobbly pitch, Distillery fought back and searched for a way back into the game, levelling with two goals in two minutes midway through the second period, but the full reward was headed back with David Downes and his troops when towering defender Jack McCosh delivered the winner eight minutes from time and moved the Seasiders to within two points of league leaders Harland and Wolff Welders – albeit having played a couple of games fewer.

Bangor contest their final home match of the season on Saturday when they entertain third-from-bottom PSNI at Clandeboye Park before a break of three weeks, making the long travel to the north west where they will face Institute at the Brandywell in a rearranged match-up.

(Posted: Thursday, 18th April 2024)

Chris Dougan got off to a winning start in his first competitive outing as Bangor FC Ladies manager with a comprehensive and ruthless 6-1 victory over St Oliver Plunkett Ladies at Crumlin Leisure Centre on Wednesday night, picking up all three points in their 2024 NIWFA Championship opener.

Bangor couldn't have had a worse start to the game in truth, conceding after just 56 seconds when Plunkett forward Clodagh Mervyn raced behind the defensive line before firing into the top left corner of the net out of reach of Giulia McLaughlin – but what followed was a storming Seasiders response.

Amber Dempster, so ruthless in front of goal in 2023, picked up exactly where she left off in the new year with finishes in the 11th and 19th minutes to turn the tide back in Bangor's favour, while composed drives by Toni Stewart and Janine Jess – both around 10 yards from goal, the former from a well-worked sequence down the left and the latter with a fierce rebound after Dempster's initial shot from a corner was blocked — made it 4-1 before the half-hour.

Dempster then completed her hat-trick five minutes out from the interval from the penalty spot, and a second half that started on a less frenetic note than the first offered Dougan the chance to introduce three fresh faces to the fold to a starting XI that entirely comprised familiar faces from 2023's crusade. Substitute Evarose Martin, a summer arrival last term, then struck a sublime free-kick from 25 yards that nestled beautifully in the top left corner and rubber-stamped the scoring on a fine night.


AMBER DEMPSTER'S THOUGHTS ON WEDNESDAY WIN

They say the best things some in threes, and that was certainly the case on opening night for Amber Dempster, who delivered a fine first-half hat-trick to help Bangor FC Ladies to victory in their 2024 NIWFA Championship opener on Wednesday night.

The Seasiders faced St Oliver Plunkett Ladies at Crumlin Leisure Centre for what looked like a potential banana skin, having only narrowly overcome the west Belfast outfit in last season’s PwC Super Cup quarter-final 3-2, and that reputation was living true inside the first minute when Plunkett forward Clodagh Mervyn stroked in a beauty to give the home side the lead.

But a fired-up Bangor responded fearlessly and hit the Lenadoon club for six, with Dempster hitting a treble either side of finishes from impressive midfielder Janine Jess and agile winger Toni Stewart before the half-hour mark.

Substitute left-back Evarose Martin delivered the cherry on top and the finish of the night to round off the goal count 10 minutes from time, the teenager’s fabulous 25-yard free-kick picking out the top left corner in spectacular style, and 31-year-old Dempster hailed the grit and determination the Yellows showed to clinch victory in Chris Dougan’s first competitive clash in charge as manager.

“Yeah, definitely, the girls battled hard… you know, we went behind pretty early on, and I think we were finding our feet, first game of the season.

“You know, Plunkett are always a difficult team to come away to, you know, obviously travelling an hour out to Crumlin, too. Kind of heavy legs, obviously, whenever you first get going but, yeah, obviously from when we conceded, we managed to pull one back, and from there, it was just a really professional performance from the girls.

“We managed to get good squad rotation on today, too, which was excellent, and everybody really worked hard. We’ve been playing some tough friendlies in pre-season, it’s really had us ready for this moment, you know, whenever we do go one or two behind.

“The team always shows really great resilience, and it’s something even last year that we really demonstrated a lot throughout the season. Definitely, the girls, you know, No.1 right through to 18 that were there today really gave their all, which was fantastic.

“Even having the fans down to support us and having them behind us, too, always really helps as well.”

Amber Dempster

Dempster, who, alongside ever-reliable Seasiders skipper Sarah Crooks, recently scored for Northern Ireland Futsal in a memorable 4-1 victory over Belgium in Newry, believes those more fresh-faced to the fold showed their quality, too.

Namechecking respected ex-Larne and Crusaders midfielder Amanda Morton (35) and teen talent Emi Wynne, who both debuted off the bench against Plunkett, she feels the familiarity of a starting XI entirely comprised first-team mainstays from 2023 combined with new faces can help the Seasiders take their talents to new heights.

“We’ve made some new additions this year, which has been fantastic, you know, with the likes of Emi and Amanda coming in. I think Emi, obviously, so young, being able to get on there and get her first senior minutes for Bangor was excellent, and she really held her own whenever she went out there too.

“She almost managed to grab herself a goal in the process so, yeah, definitely, nice to have a mix of new additions and experience in there. We’ve kept the majority of the squad together from last year, obviously there’s a few have went travelling or went off to university but, apart from that, we’ve kept the squad together, we’ve continued to go from strength to strength, so we’re excited to see what the rest of the season brings.

“I think it was great to be able to have that squad rotation today and be able to obviously use all our subs, get them on, get them game time, get them minutes. You know, it is fantastic for players last year who maybe didn’t get the opportunity to get as many minutes to get them on the ball and get them that experience.

“And Evarose’s free-kick was an absolute worldie, definitely, she’ll be teaching me how to do them on the training ground, she’ll be fighting me for the next one I think!”

Amber Dempster

(Posted: Thursday, 18th April 2024)

Wednesday, April 17 – Lisburn Distillery U21 vs Bangor Reserves, Championship/PIL Development League, Wallace Park, 6:30pm

Bangor Reserves are on the road on Wednesday night and are aiming to close the season on a high when they travel to face Lisburn Distillery U21 at Wallace Park, their third-from-last outing in the Championship/PIL Development League.

Following a 3-0 success over Knockbreda Reserves that put them back on the winning trail – they were awarded a 3-0 win over Warrenpoint Town, who were unable to field a team, but lost the four preceding matches in March that means the side’s most likely aim is consolidating second-place – David Downes will want his men to keep their composure up against a Whites outfit sitting second from bottom in the table but who have reserves at their disposal to cause other teams problems.

The Seasiders were victorious during the clash of the teams at Clandeboye Park in February, but the 4-1 scoreline wasn’t one that told the whole story given both left chances begging to add even more goals to what was an end-to-end affair. Mitchel Watterson, Charley Craig, Callum Johnston and Jay Boyd hit the target that Saturday morning, and Downes will hope his forward options can produce the goods again and potentially capitalise on any slip-ups from league leaders Harland and Wolff Welders at the summit; Dundela Reserves, in third, are also six points behind with three in hand.

Putting points on the board by hook or by crook is the objective in the run-in, which is then followed with a home clash against PSNI Olympic on Saturday before a curtain-closer at the Brandywell for a rearranged trip to Institute on May 10.


Wednesday, April 17 – St Oliver Plunkett Ladies vs Bangor FC Ladies, NIWFA Championship, Crumlin Leisure Centre, 8pm

Bangor FC Ladies kickstart their 2024 campaign with a trip to Crumlin Leisure Centre for the NIWFA Championship opener, where newly promoted St Oliver Plunkett Ladies will be keen to throw an early spanner in the works.

In what is also new first-team boss Chris Dougan’s first competitive outing as manager since stepping up from his assistant role to succeed club hero Ethan Boylan in the new year, he’ll aim to set the side up for success and build on a highly promising 2023 crusade that saw the Ladies finish third-place in the Championship and reach the Final of the PwC Super Cup – the first showpiece the team has competed in since being brought back into the fold in 2019.

Much of last season’s squad has been retained and they have experience of facing the west Belfast side, given it was in that very knock-out competition where the Seasiders won 3-2 in a nip-and-tuck quarter-final encounter at Sally Gardens in Poleglass. Twice Boylan’s outfit were behind on that early July day, but goals from Erin Hennity, Amber Dempster and Robyn McFadden were enough to edge a five-goal thriller against the would-be Division One champions, who are a west Belfast outfit generally renowned for their youth production.

It’s a tough test to kick things off for the squad, but with the vast majority of last campaign’s playing personnel retained, there is an element of continuity that is poised to stand them in the right stead and begin 2024’s events on the front foot. With Sion Swifts and Ballymena United both dropping down from the Premiership, it promises to be tough but exciting for the Yellows throughout, beginning in Crumlin.

(Posted: Tuesday, 16th April 2024)

The two Bens in the Bangor line-up produced the goods on Saturday and delighted manager Lee Feeney with their contributions in the victory over Dundela.

It was Cushnie who hit the target first, slotting a low free-kick 25 yards from goal past Lewis Hunter and into the bottom right corner to equalise at Wilgar Park after his fellow Glentoran loanee Jordan Jenkins had opened the scoring for the hosts early doors, before his namesake Arthurs rounded off the scoring when he found the net for the 25th time this campaign after capitalising on a loose touch in defence to round the Duns stopper and finish easily for 3-1.

Both players have repeatedly come in for praise from the Clandeboye chief throughout this campaign and, beginning with versatile forward Cushnie (22) – who struck his fifth of the season having navigated injury turbulence at points – Feeney saluted the Hillsborough ace’s all-round play and called him “unplayable” at times in east Belfast.

“Ben is a great lad… great lad, and a fantastic player. I think you can see he’s not quite at full match fitness, he’s not at a level to play 90 minutes just yet, but we’re building up to that point and he’s getting closer to that level.

“He was unlucky a few times before he got his goal, he was finding space on the pitch and was working hard, but then he got his goal which I felt his play deserved.

“There was a period in the second half where I thought he was just unplayable, the way that he was moving around the pitch, how he was working for himself and others and getting into positions where he could cause problems.

“Yes, he’s had his problems with injury, it’s been a tricky season for him, but I have no doubt over what he gives to the team, and I believe there’s still much more to come from him.”

Lee Feeney

On Arthurs, the masterful 25-year-old from Kircubbin is a player that Feeney has routinely challenged to be even better, and the striker – who has 131 goals in total in the yellow and blue shirt – delivered on the job following his manager’s rally cry at half-time on Saturday.

Dealing with experienced centre-halves Jay Magee and Jaimie McGovern in the Dundela defence, ‘Big Ben’ was tasked with creating important spaces for his team-mates to roam into and pounce on any chances that fell his way, deservedly marking the scoresheet with one of the final meaningful actions of the contest.

Having hit a quarter-century of goals across all competitions in the Ballymena and Provincial League and McReynolds Cup double-winning season in 2018/19, when he scored 38, as well as 31 in last campaign’s Premier Intermediate League and Steel and Sons Cup crusade, Feeney also hailed the predatory marksman – who is also Bangor’s top assister this term with 13 – for repeating the feat in the Championship, an “outstanding” achievement.

“I actually had a wee go at Ben at half-time… I asked him to do more in terms of keeping the centre-backs occupied and, fair play to him, in the second half, I thought he was outstanding.

“He was up against big Jay Magee, who I actually thought played a really excellent game with Ben, but Ben was physical and he kept him occupied, and Jaimie McGovern in there as well.

“He was doing a lot of the dirty work that was allowing Cush and Scott McArthur, and even Jordan Hughes when he came on, to find the spaces that they did, and playing as the lone striker, that’s what you have to do in games.

“You’ve got to go above and beyond in that sense, to create room for others, and I thought up against two tough centre-backs, he was doing that and caused Dundela a lot of problems and gave us a lot of joy, a lot of territory in the final third.

“He got his goal late in the second half that I thought he took superbly, how he controlled it and then the finish, and that was a reward for the work he’d been doing for others earlier.

“He’s scored 25 goals in a season across three different leagues… I think that’s outstanding.

“That’s just a measure of his commitment, the part he’s played in this team being where it is now and being in a position to challenge at the top end of this league. He’s someone I know I can look to and will demand more of himself, and I believe he’s got levels to climb as well.”

Lee Feeney

(Posted: Tuesday, 16th April 2024)

Bangor manager Lee Feeney admits the main source of satisfaction from Saturday’s priceless 3-1 win at Dundela was righting the wrongs of their previous less jubilant visit to Wilgar Park.

The Seasiders were on the wrong end of a Jordan Jenkins hat-trick and a 3-2 reversal at the hands of the Duns on Tuesday, February 13 – a scoreline that, in truth, was flattering for the visitors that night – but the supporters felt the love much more on post-split Saturday after this fighting comeback success.

Jenkins required just nine minutes to shoot Stephen Gourley’s charges into the lead, but that proved as good as it got for the east Belfast side as a second-half fightback inspired by a Ben Cushnie free-kick special, a powerful Lewis Francis header and a Ben Arthurs classic roared Bangor to all three points this time around.

Feeney took responsibility for that defeat and pledged to carry on board the lessons learned as a direct brand of football failed to yield the desired reward, with the Yellows returning to deploy a fresh style that made a difference this time.

“It was a big win for us, and I was really pleased with the way we went about ourselves in the end. I took responsibility, and I told the players that, I took responsibility for when we got beat in February and that we would come back here having learned lessons.

“I learned a lot as a manager that night, and that has been the way it’s been at times, either you win or you learn, and you keep learning. We played direct and long from that back that night, but I set us up for this game to play the ball on the ground more and every player worked hard to execute the game plan the way they did and play some of the football we did.

“It’s a tough game here, but I was feeling confident on the back of that experience and the win last week that the players would have taken lessons on board coming back here, and I felt we produced a really good performance.

“Tactically, I think we got it spot on, and I felt the players executed the game plan superbly. I felt defensively, with young Jenkins, I know he scored, but I felt we did a good job and marshalled him well, we kept track of his movements and we knew he’d be a threat.

“I felt we were a wee bit were unlucky to be behind, we had a few moments in the first half where we were unlucky, but in the second half, I felt we were outstanding.

“We controlled the play, we got our foot on the ball, we were creating chances and getting into dangerous areas, we had dangerous territory in the final third and we capitalised in the end for a really important win.”

Lee Feeney

Reflecting on the turbulent sequence of results that preceded Saturday and the previous weekend’s dominant 3-0 home triumph over Dundela’s local rivals H&W Welders, Feeney reiterated his confidence in his squad and insists he knew they would turn the tables.

A trio of defeats to Portadown (twice) and Institute could have stunted Bangor’s momentum but that is not in the nature of this squad, who hit back with a vengeance in successive duels to set themselves up perfectly for facing Institute and Annagh United in their final couple.

Praising the standard of football on Wilgar Park’s oft-discussed compact playing surface, the Clandeboye chief says setbacks are par for the course and is pleased his squad have hit the high notes once again.

“At this stage of the season, it is about getting the three points, and we have been unlucky recently, but the performances have been really, really good. We have been playing really, really, really well. Apart from, you know, the Portadown game (3-0 defeat at Clandeboye Park on Easter Tuesday), we were playing really well and just not getting the results, not getting the rub of the green.

“But we have great characters at this club, the character’s always been there ever since I first came in, and I’ve said to the players that it’s just football, and football throws up these types of setbacks that you’ve got to try and put right.

“Now, we’ve got two victories, two convincing victories in my opinion, and it’s now a wee bit of momentum for us to push on and go into Institute. People say you can’t play football at Dundela, they make it tough, the pitch is too small, it’s compact, some of the football we played on Saturday was outstanding.

“I’m proud of every player for that; every player had a part to play in that, getting from back to front to create chances and create spaces and find spaces on the pitch, and I thought the subs came on and came into that really well as well.

“No one at this club doubts the character of the boys, I never have any doubt and you can see why.”

Lee Feeney

(Posted: Monday, 15th April 2024)

A storming second-half performance at Wilgar Park on Saturday showed that Bangor’s intent to end the season strong and vie for a promotion place is burning bright as ever, as the away side came from behind to take all three points against Dundela. Trailing at the interval after Jordan Jenkins blasted the Duns into the lead with less than 10 minutes on the clock in east Belfast, the Seasiders clicked into gear at a venue they lost 3-2 at in the middle of February and converted three unanswered finishes during the second period to wrap up a priceless victory.

Jenkins’ fellow Glentoran loanee Ben Cushnie laid the foundations for the fightback when he slotted in a brilliant low free-kick past home shot-stopper Lewis Hunter on 53 minutes – and after notching up his fifth goal of an injury-disrupted season, defender Lewis Francis racked up his 10th and shot Bangor into the lead for the first time having headed home new CBSC Player of the Month Tiarnan Mulvenna’s corner.

The cherry on top that propped up the Yellows to 66 points and second-place in the Playr-Fit Championship table was applied by Ben Arthurs, who raced behind the Dundela defence and beat Hunter for the third goal of the afternoon and his 25th of the campaign.

While the title is all in Portadown’s hands – they are four points clear at the top and know victory over the Duns at Shamrock Park next Saturday will win them the league any which way – the same can now be said of Bangor’s chances of the promotion play-off, with visits to fourth-placed Institute (April 20) and fifth-positioned Annagh United (April 26) to come in the last two scheduled outings.

GARY'S MATCH GALLERY

BANGOR TEAM:
J.Taylor, R.Neale, H.Beverland, L.Francis, S.Foster(G.Beattie), L.Harrison(J.Hughes), T.Mulvenna, B.Cushnie(A,Neale), S.McArthur(M.Bradley), B.Arthurs, T.Mathieson.
Subs: M.Orbinson, D.Hume, M.Halliday

NEXT MATCH:
SATURDAY, 20th April 2024 - INSTITUTE v BANGOR, Championship, Brandywell, 3:00PM

(Posted: Sunday, 14th April 2024)

Scott McArthur is expecting Bangor to be pushed hard by a Dundela outfit who can’t go up but are still chasing title glory.

The Seasiders’ next assignment in the Playr-Fit Championship sees them bound for Wilgar Park to take on the Duns having despatched of their east Belfast rivals Harland and Wolff Welders at Clandeboye Park last week.

In-form attacking midfielder McArthur, who bagged a brace in the 3-0 win in a blustery but sun-drenched affair, says the squad is keen to make amends following the 3-2 defeat there in mid-February when Glentoran loanee Jordan Jenkins’ hat-trick fired Stephen Gourley’s men to the three points.

In fact, the 24-year-old is hungry for victories over Institute and Annagh United afterwards, too, but his focus is firmly planted on beating a side whose narrow pitch may be the reason why they can’t achieve promotion but who have used it to their advantage to defeat rivals.

“The last game against Dundela, it was very difficult.

“You know, the pitch suits them very well, but even when we were behind there, but I think when we got a goal back, we maybe could’ve deserved to sneak a draw at the end of it.

“But I seen they got beat today (4-3 at home to Institute), so they’re going to be wanting – or needing – to get a win if they want to stay in the title race.

“So, you know, it’s going to be a really tough game, but we’re hoping we can get nine points here in the last three games and then, you know, see where that takes us.

“If that’s to win the league or finish second, you know, we’ll be happy with the play-off spot.”

Scott McArthur

(Posted: Friday, 12th April 2024)

Saturday, April 13 – Dundela vs Bangor, Playr-Fit Championship, Wilgar Park, 3pm

Following a run of three straight home outings, Bangor now stare into a trio of away days to close out the campaign, beginning with their short trip to Wilgar Park this Saturday to face Dundela.

A venue the Seasiders tasted defeat at in mid-February, with Ben Arthurs’ brace usurped as it was by Jordan Jenkins’ hat-trick in a 3-2 victory for the hosts, Lee Feeney and his men are fired up to answer back following that reversal and set themselves on a front footing going into trips to the Brandywell and BMG Arena where Institute and Annagh United respectively lie in wait.

Having returned to winning ways in the final scheduled home match of the season last time out, proving too hot to handle for Harland and Wolff Welders on a warm spring’s day when Scott McArthur’s brace and a cool Arthurs finish secured the maximum spoils at Clandeboye Park, those in yellow and blue will be determined to continue their winning groove in east Belfast and keep applying the heat – just six points separate the top five, with Bangor fourth among that contingent and four off the top.

Previous outings against the Duns in addition to that rearranged trip on February 13 include a 3-0 triumph at Clandeboye back in January, with McArthur, Lewis Francis and Adam Neale on target, while August saw a Lee Rea brace hand Stephen Gourley’s side the full spoils in a 2-1 defeat for Bangor that Ben Arthurs converted in. This match is high-stakes and should have the bumper crowd to reflect the occasion.

(Posted: Thursday, 11th April 2024)

Experienced defender Howard Beverland has offered an interesting insight into how he has settled in since joining Bangor in January and his expectations of himself and the impact he could have on the team.

The 34-year-old centre-back, who was an Irish Cup and County Antrim Shield winner as well as Irish League champion with Crusaders, has seen all that there is to see in a distinguished career in the domestic game that also includes two stints with Coleraine and spells playing for Portadown and Ballyclare Comrades.

Beverland linked up at Clandeboye Park from the latter and admits he demanded of himself that he get down to business as quickly as possible, with the culture and atmosphere at Lee Feeney’s outfit helping him settle speedily and cement a spot in the starting side early doors.

You can sense the Ballymoney native’s winning mentality when he speaks and his desire to help bring success to the seaside, and having recently returned to fitness from a hamstring injury, the prospect of challenging for promotion and competing in big games in the split is right up his alley as the squad aims to make one big final push.

“I came in here and I kind of expect myself at this stage of my career to come in and hit the ground running because I’m an experienced player.I wouldn’t personally have felt I’d need two or three weeks to kind of get going.

“I was keen to get going and sort of hit the ground, and that’s what I’ve done, to be fair. That’s been helped by the culture, the atmosphere throughout the club and the togetherness, to be honest; it’s a really enjoyable club to sign for and to step into.

“Most importantly, we have something to play for at this stage of the season because that’s what it’s all about, you know, at this stage, you want to be in the top half, you want to be going into those big games where you put yourself out of your comfort zone.

“You want to have the confidence to play in the big games, that’s something I’ve been used to a lot in my career as well, and hopefully, it’s something I can bring when it comes to those games here as well.

“Obviously, I’d a wee injury there for the last five or so weeks, probably just disrupted my momentum because I was in a really good place performance-wise within the team. The Ballyclare game (a 4-0 win at Clandeboye Park on February 23), my hamstring tears and then you’re working hard to get back again because you know it’s a crucial time.

“I worked hard, seen the physios and did my rehab and worked hard at that to get back in again to help the team.

“We’re in a really privileged place here to have a go and see where it takes us as well.”

Howard Beverland

(Posted: Tuesday, 9th April 2024)

Howard Beverland is feeling the love at Bangor and insists repaying the supporters’ faith by doing the hard work on the pitch is key to the club’s success in the present and future.

The centre-back turned in a commanding performance during the Seasiders’ 3-0 victory over Harland and Wolff Welders, with a dominant collective display warmly received by a rousing round of applause as the players and management walked off for the final scheduled home match at Clandeboye Park this season.

Irish League veteran Beverland, who linked up from fellow Playr-Fit Championship outfit Ballyclare Comrades in the January transfer window, took in the acclaim and was satisfied after helping the team bounce back from the 3-0 defeat to another of his former sides, Portadown, on Easter Tuesday.

A crowd well into the four-figure mark witnessed that reversal, leaving Lee Feeney and his charges desperate to correct a three-game losing streak, and they produced the goods at a sunny Clandeboye on Saturday to return to winning ways.

“Reading there as well, on Tuesday, there were 1,200 or so for the third time this season? That atmosphere, that’s great for the players to play in as well,” Beverland said. Brilliant (to be clapped off), and not only that; that rubs off on the players, too.

“You know, you feel the enthusiasm of the support from the fans as well, and they sense that we’re giving everything on the pitch for them. That’s what it has to be to make the best home atmosphere and the best clubs as well.

“So, it’s definitely happening, and we were keen today to put in a more… a performance more like us probably from Tuesday against Portadown, you know, we were disappointed.

“It’s disappointing to concede three goals against any team, you know, it doesn’t happen very often, so hopefully, we came out today and we were a bit more like ourselves in a way.

“We did good preparation during the week, we were in training to put things right, to review a few things, to look at things, see what went well, what didn’t go so well, and I think that paid off.

“And credit to the backroom staff and all for the hard work they put in to get us right today, and the boys took the game plan, actioned it and we came out with a really, really good win and a clean sheet.”

Howard Beverland

On that note, clean sheets are something Bangor have taken pride in of late, with a record-breaking 24 in last season’s double-winning crusade followed up by a commendable 11 so far in their first campaign back in the second-tier.

Add a Scott McArthur brace that sandwiched Ben Arthurs’ 24th of the campaign overall, and you have about as close to a perfect day as Feeney and his staff could have envisioned from the dugout.

Former Crusaders and Coleraine stalwart Beverland, who celebrated his 34th birthday at the end of last month, understands that feeling and tips the nature of the weekend’s success to inspire a strong end to 2023/24’s events.

With the Championship’s top two, leaders Portadown and second-placed Dundela, beaten at home by Annagh United and Institute respectively, just six points now separate the top five, and the defender reckons it is all to play for now.

“It’s huge, and that was really pleasing today, getting the clean sheet in. You know, you bounce back with a win, and you never know where it takes you; you look at results today and all of a sudden, it was kind of doom and gloom on Tuesday, and then after today, you’re feeling your way back into it in a way.

“So, yeah, long way to go, especially when it’s the split. You’re playing against the best teams and there’ll be points dropped, and that’s what’s happened today elsewhere.”

On the aspect of capitalising on mistakes for the goals, as was the case with both McArthur’s finishes, Beverland adds: “Massively, and I think, you know, we’re capitalising… we played against the wind there in the first half.

“And I think the way we controlled the game for near enough 90 minutes, I don’t know if they recorded a shot, which is credit to the boys. Those conditions today were as bad a wind during a game I’ve ever played in before, and we kind of managed the game into the wind, against the wind.

“The boys kept their shape, we kept the line high, we caught them offside today many times, and a really composed performance.”

Howard Beverland

Beverland also felt the bench made a difference, with five substitutes called upon in the second half to ensure Bangor didn’t get blown away amid the strong winds he refers to.

“It was really good across 90, you know, we have a bench that the manager can turn to and he did today,”

“I think maybe four or five players came on, and I think all of them impacted the game really well. That’s the way it’s got to be, if you want to be one of the best teams that’s competing to get promotion at that end of the table, you’ve got to have hungry subs.

“You know, subs can sometimes be the most important people because they’re the ones that need to be ready to be called on after five minutes or 55, and I thought they all did it today when they came on and impacted the game. It was really pleasing.”

Howard Beverland

(Posted: Monday, 8th April 2024)

Two-goal Scott McArthur believes the nature of his goals in Bangor’s handsome victory over Harland and Wolff Welders on Saturday was a much-needed rub of the green after a recent difficult stretch.

The local lad, who now has 14 goals in the yellow and blue shirt this season, struck a decisive double either side of half-time in the 3-0 win at a sun-drenched Clandeboye Park, with both his openings popping up as a result of lapses in the Welders backline.

McArthur’s brace sandwiched Ben Arthurs’ well-placed finish at goalkeeper Jack Mills’ near post eight minutes from the end of the first period, and the attacking midfielder believed it was a result that reflected a fine performance across both halves that ends a run of three successive defeats over the past couple of weeks.

There were strong gusts that threatened to sway Bangor’s focus at times, but the players remained planted to the ground and saw out a clean sheet – their 11th of the campaign.

“Delighted for the two goals. I think we haven’t had that luck recently, sort of we’ve maybe made mistakes where other teams have scored so, yeah, to pounce on that, you know, set us up for the win.

“I thought the first half, we were unbelievable. Created loads of chances, probably should’ve went in maybe four or five up. We were actually playing against the wind (in the first half), but I think we played better that way.

“Second half, you know, we got that early goal and, you know, when you go 3-0 up so early, maybe a bit of concentration goes, but we were able to keep the heads.

“Obviously, they put on all their attackers and went for it, but we were able to keep a clean sheet, which is important again.”

Scott McArthur

Despite recent reversals home and away to Portadown and against Institute at Clandeboye, McArthur insisted the players’ belief in their ability to turn things around never dipped.

The 3-0 loss to the Ports on Easter Tuesday was a match where Bangor were firmly second-best, but the heartbreaking 2-1 defeat to the same opponents at Shamrock Park had a fine display to go with it and the 1-0 reverse against ‘Stute was one where the Seasiders battled. McArthur reflected: “The three games, the three defeats there, we had the confidence, and I actually thought Portadown away, we were very good.

“And then Institute at home, I thought we were very good as well. I thought the game against Portadown there at home, I think that was maybe a one-off this season where we were miles off it, didn’t really create anything.

“But, you know, it’s good to get a few goals today, and to keep the clean sheet is really important for us going into the last few games.

“It’s important because you keep clean sheets and you don’t lose games, and it’s good that, you know, I think that was me and Ben had gone maybe three or four games without scoring there, so it’s good that we’ve got back on the scoresheet.

“You know, we’re confident here ahead of Dundela away.”

Scott McArthur

(Posted: Sunday, 7th April 2024)

Bangor brought an end to their three-game losing slump in convincing style after recording a largely dominant 3-0 win over Harland and Wolff Welders in the last scheduled home outing of the 2023/24 Playr-Fit Championship season.

The victory cements an unbeaten record against the east Belfast side this campaign, with a pair of successes and two draws from the four encounters, and this outcome at a sunny but blustery Clandeboye Park proved one of the Seasiders’ best performances since achieving promotion into the second-tier last year.

The hosts broke the deadlock shortly after the half-hour mark, with some short build-up from the back by the Welders going awry and allowing Scott McArthur to capitalise. The attacking midfielder was placed one-on-one with visiting goalkeeper Jack Mills and was clinically incisive to slot low and open the scoring.

With that finish coming on 31 minutes, only six more were needed to double the advantage. In a back-to-front move that culminated in a fine pass by Tiarnan Mulvenna with the outside of his boot which slipped in the onrushing Ben Arthurs, the big striker showed fine footwork to cut inside the Welders defender and fire in at Mills’ near post to cap off a fantastic piece of counter-attacking and net his 24th of the season across all competitions.

There was some confusion surrounding the Seasiders’ third when the linesman had his flag raised for offside – against Arthurs – but McArthur was on the defensive blindside and very much onside, pouncing and blasting in at the Wall End for his 14th this term having latched onto an opportunistic ball in behind. Referee Ryan Hanna consulted with his assistant, who clarified the situation, and pointed to the centre circle to signal that the goal did, indeed, stand to extend the initiative.

Lee Feeney’s men, who faced a Welders side that featured former fan favourite midfielder Dylan O’Kane from the start, didn’t experience too much trouble after and weathered the gusty conditions to wrap up a slick three points.

GARY'S MATCH GALLERY

BANGOR TEAM:
J.Taylor, R.Neale, L.Francis, C.McDermott(S.Foster), H.Beverland, B.Walker(T.Mathieson), L.Harrison(M.Bradley), T.Mulvenna, B.Cushnie(J.Hughes), S.McArthur(M.Halliday), B.Arthurs.
Subs: M.Orbinson, D.Hume

NEXT MATCH:
Saturday, 13th April 2024 - DUNDELA v BANGOR, Championship, Wilgar Park, 3:00pm

(Posted: Saturday, 6th April 2024)

Friday, April 5 – Knockbreda Reserves vs Bangor Reserves, Championship/PIL Development League, Breda Park, 8pm

Bangor Reserves face a Friday night examination this weekend when they visit Breda Park to take on Knockbreda Reserves, hopeful of recording their first victory since the thumping 7-0 success away to Newington at the end of February.

Having endured a winless March that saw them lose four on the spin before last Saturday’s clash with Warrenpoint Town was a late postponement – the ‘Point were unable to field a team and so the fixture did not proceed – David Downes and his charges are due a bit of feelgood spirit, and that is exactly what the second-string boss will be hoping for against the team that sit third from bottom in the league.

Knockbreda are likewise hungry for a return to winning ways having not won any of their last six outings, but their most recent affairs have tended to be close-run. They drew 3-3 at home to Institute a fortnight ago and ran in-form duo Queen’s University and Portadown close, losing 4-2 and 2-1 respectively, so Bangor must maintain steely determination to pick up all the reward on offer here.

Indeed, it was only by a solitary goal that the Yellows won this match just before Christmas, with Charley Craig scoring the winner just before half-time, but the players will be especially fired up to answer back and keep their hopes of title glory alive. Currently sat five points behind league leaders Harland and Wolff Welders, who have played a game fewer, wins are of the essence and Bangor will be fighting hard to tag another one onto the tally on Friday.

(Posted: Friday, 5th April 2024)

Saturday, April 6 – Bangor vs Harland and Wolff Welders, Playr-Fit Championship, Clandeboye Park, 3pm

It’s the last scheduled home game of the season in the Playr-Fit Championship for Bangor this weekend and, after a run of three successive defeats, the players could hardly be any more keen to give the Clandeboye faithful cause for cheer.

The Seasiders play host to Harland and Wolff Welders this Saturday on the back of a streak of losses in need of correcting – home and away reversals at the hands of Portadown have sandwiched a slender defeat to Institute in the previous trio – and the determination out on the park to return to winning ways is expected to be tangible against the division’s current sixth-placed side.

Having drawn twice with Paul Kee’s Welders before substitute Adam Neale bagged a winner at Blanchflower Park in the third encounter, Bangor have enjoyed a good record against the opponents on Saturday – former Seasiders Jamie Glover and Dylan O’Kane are part of their panel these days – but every game will pose fresh challenges and the prior encounters will not count for much when the ball is set rolling.

The Welders are 10 points behind Bangor with a couple of games in hand, too, so they will harbour outside hopes of qualifying for the promotion play-off and know that wrapping up victory here will be essential to that aim. For that reason, Lee Feeney’s charges know they can’t let their guard drop given, in a quirk of this season’s league and how Dundela cannot be promoted, they are actually two points closer to the play-off than they were before kick-off on Tuesday. That’s still very much a live hope for the Seasiders, and a win surely boosts their ambitions here.

(Posted: Friday, 5th April 2024)

Bangor assistant boss John Douglas has urged the supporters to wrap around the players for the last scheduled match at Clandeboye Park in the 2023/24 Playr-Fit Championship season.

The Seasiders are bidding to bounce back off the ropes following three successive defeats on Saturday when they entertain Harland and Wolff Welders and, ahead of kick-off, Douglas has rallied everyone associated with the club to do themselves proud and those on the pitch to reproduce the commitment and passion that has encapsulated this second-tier campaign.

As he approaches four full years in the role working alongside first-team manager Lee Feeney, Douglas has hailed the spirit shown throughout a club where “we’re all in this together” and pointed out just how determined the players are to deliver for the fans.

He believes the family feel around Bangor and the desire on the part of the players to do their people proud inspire a bright future going forward and insists that in the push for a promotion play-off place – an overachievement in its own right compared to expectations from the start of this term – those on the pitch will thrive with the faithful backing them up.

READ MORE

(Posted: Wednesday, 3rd April 2024)

Bangor assistant manager John Douglas reflected honestly on a disappointing day for the Seasiders at Clandeboye Park and admits Portadown ran away deserved winners in their penultimate scheduled home match of the season.

Niall Currie’s Ports netted three second-half strikes to rubber-stamp a 3-0 victory which lifts them to the Playr-Fit Championship summit, seven points clear of their Easter Tuesday hosts with just four matches remaining, and Douglas felt the Co Armagh club were well worth the three points that means Bangor stay in fourth position.

The man who has served as Lee Feeney’s trusted No.2 for the past four years also felt that Portadown’s desire and commitment to winning first and second balls ultimately proved a pivotal factor and left the Yellows on the back foot for chunks of a game where the yellow and blue display that never really got going nor reflected the feelgood time of year.

He felt the result was fair but keenly stressed that it gives the North Down pride cause to produce a stirring reaction in their second pre-split outing this Saturday afternoon.

“To be honest with you, I thought we were second-best all over the park. I think we’ve had a lot of hard luck stories this season, draws and defeats where we played well enough to win the game and haven’t got our reward, but on this occasion, you know, definitely, the better side won. We’ve no queries about that.

"I thought every department, they were better than us, and it hurts me to say but I felt they wanted it more as well. They showed a bit more passion, a bit more desire than us; when there was a first ball, they were winning the first ball, the second ball, they won the second ball, and when you’re not winning the first and second balls, it’s going to be very hard for you to get anything from the game, and that was exactly the case.

“I didn’t think that we did the basics particularly well, I felt we were reactive rather than proactive, we were waiting for them to come at us and, again, when it’s like that, it’s very hard to get a foothold in the game.

“I’d say Portadown controlled key areas of the game, and it was from winning those first and second balls that they were able to do that and they were able to put pressure on us. I know results are key but I look at performance levels first and foremost, and we just never got started in the game. The better team won, it was as simple as that, and credit to them in the end, they showed the heart and desire to deserve to win the game.

“In pre-season, people looked at Portadown as favourites to win the Championship and they brought in a lot of talented players to make that happen, and on Tuesday night, I think that was probably the Portadown that people more or less expected to see from the start of the season, and maybe they have clicked into gear. They’re a high-quality side, and when you’re facing up to that sort of quality, you have to match that. I thought we were second-best throughout and reacted more than proacted.

“I said to the players after about that passion and desire, and they’ve shown that all season and they’ve rightly been praised for that, but Portadown wanted it more and they’ve come and ultimately deserved the three points here.”

John Douglas

Douglas added that Portadown’s quality, which shone through in the form of an Eamon Fyfe brace either side of Dougie Wilson’s rasping volley just before the hour, called for more and branded the display a “learning curve” going forward that Bangor can reap rewards from. Singling out impressive Coleraine loanee Conor McDermott for plaudits, with the 26-year-old right wing-back slotting into midfield after fellow January arrival Tiarnan Mulvenna was a late pull-out of the line-up due to an injury in warm-up, Douglas felt the bar wasn’t really raised across the board for a match that demanded it.

“I think, and this is me being brutally honest, we’ve needed players delivering eights, nines, 10s out of 10 every week to be where we are and get the results we have. Against Portadown, the only player I would say who played to the best of their capabilities was probably Conor McDermott, the rest I felt weren’t at their best, and the reality is that we needed more eights, nines and 10s in a game of this magnitude.

“Competing with teams at this level, the likes of your Portadowns who have the players that they have, it’s going to take everything to get a result against them, and we’d too many out there, I thought, who probably didn’t play to the best of their capabilities, and we ended up being punished for that.

“We don’t have much margin for error being up at the top end and, as I say, facing up against quality opposition, your Portadowns, Dundelas, Institutes, as a newly promoted team in the league this season, we’ve needed to deliver to the best of our ability to get to that position. When you’re not at that level and the other team has the quality and the determination on the day, it’s going to be a tough day, and that game there was a big learning curve for us. A big learning curve.

“They’re a team with great quality and great depth, a lot of players who are experienced at the senior level and lots of Premiership and Championship experience, and you take a look at their bench as well, it’s got the same level of quality. That’s not something we have as much of, the experience at this level of the game, and this season has been about learning, and we’ve been learning along the way, learning more and more about ourselves and what it takes to win at this level. We’ve some players who’ve never played at this level consistently before and they’re learning more about it as well.

“Portadown have more of that experience in their squad and I think that showed a bit here. I’m a believer that you win as a team and you lose as a team, and we weren’t good enough collectively to get something, we had to be on top of our game. That’s three defeats in a row now, isn’t it? We’ve gone from a run of winning games 5-0, 4-0, 4-0 to stepping into a tough run of games that we’ve not been as flowing in, where we’ve played top, top opposition and not got anything from.

“To be in the position we’re in, and I know that we set the bar high in pre-season, but where we’re in a position where we’re in the conversation for potentially being promoted out of this league, it’s been a credit to the players who’ve gone out and performed as consistently as we had been to go on a long unbeaten run and that run in the league over the last few months where we’ve got ourselves into where we are now. They’re a great squad, great characters and we’ve never doubted their commitment.

“Now, we’ve got to work on getting that consistency back, and it’s as simple as getting back on the training pitch and working hard to take on this run of games, the final run-in. Our season’s not done, make no mistake about that. We’re far from done, we’re still fighting for that play-off position and we want to have a strong end to have a chance of playing in that. And we’ve seen how unpredictable this league can be, so we need to be prepared to capitalise when the chance comes along to make up ground and go for the play-off.

“It’s a learning curve, and if we approach that and look back on that in the right way and we come out with the right mentality, I have no doubt we’ll come out better on the other side and be a better team for it.”

John Douglas

Spring is a season for blooming rather than wilting, and that is exactly what Douglas will be challenging his players to do when they take on the four remaining games of the post-split.

He wants the players to stand up and be counted, starting with this weekend’s home clash with Harland and Wolff Welders, and believes the characters in the dressing room have the resolve required to start firing again in the season climax.

“You could hear a pin drop in the changing room after, the players were hurting and they know when they’ve not performed as well as they’re capable of.

“They don’t need Lee or me or Deano (Dean Gordon) or Michael (McClelland) to tell them, they know where they’ve fallen short and they know in their heads how they’ll put it right.

“That’s one reason why it is a great dressing room to be involved in, the players are never saying afterwards that this didn’t work in the game or that didn’t work in the game. They already know and they’ll work hard to put it right.

“We’ve all a choice to make here for the final four games of the season. Do we curl up and let the season fizzle out, or do we stand up and go and be counted in the final four games and show what we’re capable of?

“I know the players will go into training fired up and determined to give a reaction, there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind, and we’re looking ahead to what’s going to be another tough, tough game at home against the Welders and then three games away from home.”

John Douglas

(Posted: Wednesday, 3rd April 2024)

It proved an Easter Tuesday to forget for Bangor as Lee Feeney’s side suffered a third straight defeat in the Playr-Fit Championship – 3-0 at home to Portadown – to commence their post-split schedule.

A goalless first half was followed by a second period in which Niall Currie’s Ports claimed the game by the scruff of the neck, with Eamon Fyfe the tormentor-in-chief during that spell. Indeed, less than one minute after the restart, the Coleraine loanee capitalised ruthlessly on a slip in defence by Reece Neale before slotting the ball beyond the onrushing James Taylor to break the deadlock for the visitors.

On 50 minutes, Fyfe contrived to somehow spurn the ball wide from Ryan Mayse’s late lay-off with an open goal to aim for – a miss that you really would have had to see to believe – however the reprieve was brief for Bangor. Seven minutes later, former Ballymena United defender Dougie Wilson rifled an unstoppable shot on the volley into the roof of the Wall End net that doubled Portadown’s advantage.

Ben Arthurs almost halved the deficit having crashed a low attempt off the base of the post, but the next goal was again to arrive at the opposite end and again through ex-Dundela forward Fyfe, who’s hit the target four times against the Yellows this term and who poked low into the bottom right corner on the stroke of added-time that ultimately signed and sealed the three points for the Co Armagh men, who are now seven points ahead of Bangor at the summit.

BANGOR TEAM:
J.Taylor, R.Neale, H.Beverland(G.Beattie), L.Francis, S.Foster, L.Harrison(B.Walker), M.Bradley(D.Hume), T.Mathieson(B.Cushnie), S.McArthur(M.Halliday), B.Arthurs, C.McDermott.
Subs: M.Orbinson, J.Hughes

NEXT MATCH:
Saturday, 6th April 2024, BANGOR v H&W WELDERS, Championship, Clandeboye Park, 3:00pm

(Posted: Tuesday, 2nd April 2024)

Tuesday, April 2 – Bangor vs Portadown, Playr-Fit Championship, Clandeboye Park, 7.45pm

Bangor begin their post-split on home soil this Easter Tuesday, with Portadown visiting Clandeboye Park in what is the fifth and final meeting between the sides this campaign.

The Ports, in second, have two wins having recorded two 2-1 victories at Shamrock Park – Zach Barr’s double in the Irish Cup was followed by a last-gasp Kenny Kane gut punch 11 days previous to this encounter – with the Seasiders having added a 2-2 draw at home to August’s 1-0 triumph on the road thanks to Scott McArthur’s sublime solo finish that day.

Should the hosts bid to stay on the coattails of those leading the pack, namely Portadown – who are four points better off going into this duel – and league leaders Dundela, who won’t be able to go up but are still chasing the Playr-Fit Championship title, then a win would likely be vital both for picking up a precious three points for the season tally after successive losses and showing the likes of Niall Currie’s men that the Yellows’ flame hasn’t burnt out just yet.

Lee Feeney and his charges will enter this rapturous nighttime encounter with hunger, and in the wake of a 1-0 defeat to Institute last time out when captain Mikhail Kennedy’s header 62 minutes in made all the difference, Bangor will hope that this holiday evening can kick off a barnstorming run-in that would do the fans proud for the backing that has been afforded throughout this term. With this also being the penultimate home league game of the split and final floodlit duel involving the Seasiders at Clandeboye in 2023/24 – pending, of course, any potential play-off – the players will be keen to produce their best selves for this battle.


Bangor assistant coach Dean Gordon has rallied the players to produce a big finish that befits their status as the “best team” in the Playr-Fit Championship this season.

The Seasiders tackle Portadown at Clandeboye Park in the first of the final five on Easter Tuesday hopeful of marking their return to winning ways following successive defeats to Institute last Wednesday and the Ports the previous Friday. Now, the current fourth-placed occupiers have the chance for swift revenge on the latter and, speaking after the 1-0 home reversal to Stute in which Mikhail Kennedy headed the winner in just after the hour mark, Gordon insists his players will be going all out to give Bangor supporters cause for cheer in the run-in.

He explained:

“We just keep going the way we’ve been going and just take one game at a time now. We’re good enough, we are good enough to go and win every game. Every game in this split, we’re good enough to go and win.

“There’s not one team in this league that we can say is better than us, and we’re not going to blow the players up and say that, but I strongly believe from a personal perspective that we’re the best team in the league.

“They (the players) believe that, and we’ve just got to show that for the last five games and give the supporters something they deserve.

“Starting off in the season, we were expected to be where we are now? We’re probably exceeding expectations, and we’ve grown as the season’s gone on, we’ve just grown from strength to strength.

“The character of the dressing room and the support we get is just, it’s second to none, it’s fantastic.”

Dean Gordon

(Posted: Monday, 1st April 2024)

Michael Halliday has agreed a new 2 year professional contract with Bangor Football Club.

The 44 year old striker joined the Seasiders in 2018 and has scored 40 goals for the club. Michael's new contract will see him through to the end of the 2025/26 season, with an option to extend even further.

Michael said:

"I am delighted to commit my future to Bangor Football Club. I might be the club's oldest ever player, but I still feel that I've got the legs to compete at this level and higher for at least another two season.

"Right now, I feel like i could keep on playing until I am 50. I still have a lot to offer the club both on and off the field.

"If truth be told, Ben Arthurs actually wanted my signing to be a condition of his recent contract renewal, but I wanted to wait and see."

Michael Halliday

(Posted: Monday, 1st April 2024)

Today's Bangor Reserves game against Warrenpoint Town Reserves was called off, with Warrenpoint unable to field a full team.

(Posted: Saturday, 30th March 2024)

Saturday, March 30 – Bangor Reserves vs Warrenpoint Town, Championship/PIL Development League, Clandeboye Park, 11am

Bangor Reserves bring the curtain down on a rather downbeat March at Clandeboye Park this Saturday morning when they entertain Warrenpoint Town Reserves.

Having hit the ropes after a run of four consecutive defeats to Dundela (2-0), Portadown (3-2), Queen’s University and Harland and Wolff Welders (both 3-1) this month, the Seasiders are determined to bounce back fighting and clinch victory by hook or by crook against the ‘Point, who are 10th-placed in the Championship/PIL Development League and themselves are entering this clash on the back of a three-game losing streak.

Purely for rebuilding momentum and knowing now that they are two points off the league-leading Welders, whose comeback victory at Blanchflower Park last weekend ensured they leapfrogged their opponents into top spot with a couple of games in hand, David Downes’ young Yellows are on the back foot really for the first time this whole campaign and know that they must stay on the coattails of those around them to maintain hopes of hitting their title stride once more with just five games to go.

Charley Craig’s first-half penalty had sent Bangor into the lead and their performance during the opening 45 minutes was deserving of the advantage at the interval, and it was a similar story when Jack McCosh bulleted home a header that had the Seagulls ahead at the break against Queen’s the previous week, but delivering for the full 90 and not dropping their guard is what must be done should those in yellow and blue bid to sustain their momentum right until the dying embers.

(Posted: Friday, 29th March 2024)

Bangor duo Seanna Foster and Ben Cushnie both felt the Seasiders were slightly hard done by in their defeat to Institute at Clandeboye Park in the final outing before the split, though both insist the hard work hasn’t stopped and they will be pushing for a reaction as soon as possible. Having ended the traditional set of 33 fixtures in fourth-place, Lee Feeney’s men now know they will entertain Portadown in the first of the final five on Easter Tuesday when they will bid to end a mini-blip of two successive defeats in the Playr-Fit Championship.

The Ports’ last-gasp winner over Bangor at Shamrock Park had those in yellow and blue very hungry to respond in this one, but Mikhail Kennedy’s close-range header just after the hour mark proved the difference and saw Kevin Deery’s Stute leap above their hosts into third. Foster felt his side were good value for at least something from the contest and believes it was as good a performance “for 90 minutes” as the Seasiders have given in some time.

“Yeah, you seen the football we played throughout the game and we played them completely off the park. There’s been times this season when we’ve got three points playing scrappy football… you know, that’s probably the first time we’ve performed for 90 minutes.

“And then you see the reaction in the changing room, the boys are completely disappointed. We’re not going in arguing with each other, which shows a sign of a good side, and you know you’re going to get a reaction from us because we’ve done it all year.”

Seanna Foster
Foster, who was making his first start for the senior side in four months having undergone knee surgery around the turn of the year, is relishing the chance to make amends. The Cliftonville loanee (27), who has notched up almost 60 first-team appearances since first linking up with Bangor at the start of the 2022/23 campaign, reckons a turning point is close and is looking forward to seeing what the team can still achieve.

“That’s the thing with football. There’s always a game the next week, or there’s always a way to make amends. And, with the two teams that’s given us a bad reaction in the last week, you know, the tables will turn.

“We’ve to play them again, and hopefully, it’s us coming out on top next time.”

Seanna Foster

Cushnie has also had injury turbulence to overcome this term and was introduced as a sub in this one when he replaced midfielder Marty Bradley, with the forward targeting a clean run of match fitness for what’s left of this term.

“Yeah, just, my ankle flared up after the Ballinamallard game, so it’s just about building my fitness back up and getting back in the starting 11 hopefully next week,” he explained. On the game itself, the 22-year-old continues:

“I think Seanna said it, I think we were the better team I’d say for the 90 minutes, really. I think some decisions aren’t going our way, some more obvious than others, but at the end of the day, you can’t blame it all on decisions.

“I thought over 90 minutes, we were the better team, we were a bit unlucky.”

Ben Cushnie

On the disallowed goal, Cushnie said:

“I don’t know, I think he (the referee) said that it was something to do with the follow-through from Tom’s (Mathieson) tackle, but I was standing right in front of it and he took all the ball.”

Ben Cushnie

Foster also believes that lessons will be learned going forward and praised the relationships and responsibility within the team that have underpinned Bangor’s success in 2023/24.

“You know, they were going to get chances and they’ve scored, and the team’s going to learn from it, we’re never going to give chances like that away again. The team’s building a lot of maturity and we’re building relationships across the back and the midfield.

“It’s taken time, there’s been a lot of changes, a lot of changes in personnel, a lot of injuries which affect things. You know, it just shows that whenever someone drops out and someone steps in, everyone knows their roles, everyone knows their responsibilities and knows their jobs for the team.”

Seanna Foster

Sometimes you don’t always get what you deserve in football, and that was the view taken by Bangor assistant coach Dean Gordon in the aftermath of the 1-0 home loss to Institute on Wednesday night.

In the Seasiders’ final pre-split outing, a solitary Mikhail Kennedy header proved difference-making on 62 minutes as the ex-Crusaders hitman bulleted a header from Daniel Lafferty’s free-kick supply past James Taylor and ultimately secured three points for the Foylesiders.

It also meant Stute leapfrogged their hosts into third-place, meaning that Bangor will begin their Playr-Fit Championship post-split run-in with a mouthwatering battle with Portadown at Clandeboye Park on Easter Tuesday. Gordon, who shed light on the regroup following last Friday’s last-gasp 2-1 reversal at the hands of the Ports that has now been made successive defeats for the first time since late October, is optimistic going into the final five and insists when Bangor clicked into gear, it made for some fine viewing at times. He also opined that Ben Arthurs’ would-be leveller merely 10 minutes from time that was chalked off after an adjudged foul on Stute stopper Gareth Muldoon should’ve stood, but he is not one to dwell and believes the Yellows will save their best for last.

“Obviously, coming off the back of the Portadown game, we’d regrouped, we knew exactly what Institute was going to come in with tonight and they were going to put the three lines of defence up as such and it was going to be hard to break down.

“First 20 minutes or so, we probably did struggle to break them down, but then we got into the flow of things, and then for 20 or 25 minutes, I thought we came in, first half, on top of the game. I felt we were creating more chances than what they were creating in the game, and we played some beautiful football at times, some really good football. Second half, we were confident enough to come out to believe that we were going to continue from where we were, and we did.

“The performances from the boys in there was superb tonight, you couldn’t fault a player. Every single player didn’t leave nothing out there, emptied the tanks. We’re beat by a single goal, it was a great delivery from Lafferty, and the man at the near post has scored a header. But again, don’t want to talk about referees, but Ben’s goal, I thought there was nothing wrong with it, I thought the keeper dropped it and spilt it. People say you create your own luck in football, but we just don’t seem to be getting the rub of it at the moment at critical times in the game, et cetera.

“So, we just regroup again, we go again. We still believe… there’s five games left, we win all five games, we’re still going to be in there. We’re a good side, the boys are gutted there in the dressing room as we are as management and staff, but we go again on Tuesday.”

Dean Gordon

Gordon praised the midfield’s application to the cause and sequences of play in the first half that did bring about some flowing moves that led to open-play chances. He also hailed the work-rate of the team as a whole and felt Bangor’s defensive organisation was also a highlight.

“I thought our midfield three, I thought Marty Bradley, Lewis Harrison and Tiarnan Mulvenna, first half, was outstanding in the middle there,” Gordon reflected.

“They were showing tenacity… Lee said it at half-time as well, when we’re in possession, the football we were playing, it was flowing, it was one, two-touch, it was triangles being played, it was people running off the ball.

“When we lost the ball back, there was tenacity to win it back, you could see the hunger to win the ball back so we could start playing again. So, you know, for me, first half, those three in the middle there, unfortunately we lost Marty Bradley with a bit of a calf strain early in the second half and Cush come on in that No.10 role.

“The only save James Taylor had to make was really, probably, 10 minutes to go, there was one down to his right-hand side and he got a big strong hand on it and cleared it. And then you could say, putting bodies on the line, the last five minutes, there was a mad goalmouth scramble, I think it was three or four challenges… they looked destined to score maybe a second goal as we were pushing for the equaliser.

“The boys just thrown themselves on the line to defend our goal, you know. Every player, every single player, you couldn’t criticise one of them, they gave everything tonight.”

Dean Gordon

(Posted: Thursday, 28th March 2024)

Bangor suffered a second consecutive loss in the Playr-Fit Championship on Wednesday night after a 1-0 defeat to fellow promotion chasers Institute, whose resolve in defence proved a source of frustration all night for Lee Feeney's hosts who slip below the Foylesiders into fourth for the split.

An opening of few chances threatened to spark into life when Reece Neale's delivery was marginally out of reach of Ben Arthurs on 16 minutes, with Institute stopper Gareth Muldoon stretching shrewdly to prevent any own goal scenario emerging at the Clandeboye Road end. At the other end, James Taylor just kept a looping delivery from crossing the goalline, but precious little in front of either goal emerged until Scott McArthur dragged wide of the left-hand post from Arthurs' layoff five minutes from the interval and Tom Mathieson sliced over from close range on the stroke.

A fantastic goal-saving clearance from the auxiliary centre-back Conor McDermott on the blow kept Bangor's lead intact with Mikhail Kennedy lurking as a cagey battle opened up late in the half, but Kennedy did open the scoring just after the hour mark when he flicked in from the near post from a free-kick scenario. Bangor sought to build up their rhythm yet again, with Tiarnan Mulvenna firing just over the bar from outside the area after a well-worked move involving a number of short interchanges.

Arthurs had a goal disallowed following a Reece Neale corner on 80 minutes, with a foul on the Stute goalkeeper adjudged despite extensive protestations from the stands, and Lewis Francis headed a Ben Cushnie cross over in added-time to compound what was a difficult night in front of goal for the Seasiders.

BANGOR TEAM
J.Taylor, R.Neale, L.Francis, C.McDermott, S.Foster(H.Beverland),T.Mathieson(M.Halliday), M.Bradley(B.Cushnie), T.Mulvenna, L.Harrison, B.Arthurs, S.McArthur.
Subs: M.Orbinson, A.Neale, M.Watterson

NEXT MATCH:
Tuesdsy, 2nd April 2024 - BANGOR v PORTADOWN, Championship, Clandeboye Park, 7:45pm

(Posted: Wednesday, 27th March 2024)

Bangor Central Primary School were crowned champions at this year’s Gerry Armstrong Cup at Clandeboye Park.

Nine primary schools from across North Down entered the tournament, which was held on Friday 22 March.

Bangor FC Community Liaison Officer Paul Cain said: “Congratulations to Central Primary school for winning the trophy and all the teams who took part. The quality of the football was excellent, and I hope all the young people enjoyed the event.

“As a community-based club, we organise the annual tournament to bring together local primary schools, so they can participate in sport and enjoy the experience of playing at Clandeboye Park with classmates and parents watching on.”

Teams involved in the competition included: Ballyholme, Ballymagee, Bangor Central, Kilmaine, Rathmore, St Comgall’s, St Malachy’s, St Patrick’s, Holywood and Towerview.

Paul continued: “Huge thanks to Chris Turner and his team at McDonald’s, Bangor for providing fruit and refreshments at the competition. Thanks also to volunteer Sam Gamble who organised the fixtures and co-ordinated the overall event.

“Special appreciation, however, must go to former Bangor FC and Northern Ireland footballing legend Gerry Armstrong for his continued support of the tournament. We’re already excited about the 2025 event.”

(Posted: Tuesday, 26th March 2024)

Wednesday, March 27 – Bangor vs Institute, Playr-Fit Championship, Clandeboye Park, 8pm

There’s merely one matchday remaining of Bangor’s pre-split schedule, with Institute visiting Clandeboye Park for a rare Wednesday night kick-off in a clash of third against fourth in the Playr-Fit Championship.

Lee Feeney’s Seasiders are intent on dusting themselves down after the agonising 2-1 defeat to Portadown last time out and, pending how the Ports do on Tuesday evening at home to a basement-dwelling but recently resurgent Knockbreda, could have second-place up for grabs if they better the Shamrock Park outfit’s result 24 hours earlier – but it won’t be easy against the only side they haven’t beaten in the league yet.

Stute, who first visited Clandeboye Park in early September when Lewis Francis’ 97th-minute headed equaliser cancelled out Kirk McLaughlin’s second-half opener, emerged victorious by inflicting the heaviest defeat of Bangor’s season upon them at the Brandywell – a 4-0 reversal in October when a hat-trick by substitute McLaughlin added to Shaun Leppard’s opener and compounded a bad day at the office for Lee Feeney’s men in the Maiden City.

And following the sucker punch that was Kenny Kane’s stoppage-time dagger on Friday, with the hosts leapfrogging their visitors in the standings as a result, the Yellows will be eager for a quick response that would build crucial momentum ahead of the five-game split. Kevin Deery’s Institute, who finished second-bottom last term, have also enjoyed an impressive campaign built on both quality and youth and will pose a stern test in what should prove a competitive and charged affair.

(Posted: Monday, 25th March 2024)

Bangor manager Lee Feeney admits the nature of Friday night’s defeat to Portadown was a “bitter pill to swallow”, but a hearty display in defeat has inspired his belief that his players will be all the better for it going forward.

After Kenny Kane’s stoppage-time winner for the Ports at Shamrock Park left the Seasiders empty-handed despite defender David Hume replying half an hour on from Eamon Fyfe’s 24th-minute opener, there was a particular rawness to this reversal not felt for some time among the visiting faithful.

Much of that was down to the performance, which the Kilkeel supremo rightly praised in the aftermath, and he has rallied his charges to channel their frustration into hitting back in style against Institute on Wednesday night.

That final pre-split encounter under the floodlights at Clandeboye Park at least represents a chance for Bangor to react quickly, and Feeney, who hailed how his men adapted to difficult weather conditions and a somewhat bobbly playing surface at the Co Armagh venue, has no doubts as to whether the side can conjure up a response following Friday’s disappointment.

“The first thing you want to do after a defeat like that is to channel the players. You want to channel their frustrations because we’ve got a massive game on Wednesday night and you want them to feel up for it and wanting to deliver a quick response.

“It’s hard because I felt we were clearly the better team in the game, we were getting up the pitch with the ball, and to concede in the last minute of the game, it’s tough to take, it is. It’s a bitter pill to swallow.

“I felt we started the game well, we started the game on the front foot and we were playing some good football and creating early chances. It was tough conditions and it wasn’t an easy pitch to play on, it was a bobbly pitch that did make it a little bit harder to necessarily play the way we want to play, but I really felt that we adapted to the conditions well and had control in the game early on.

“There was a piece of play in the first half where we must’ve put together 20 passes, we cut it back from the right-hand side and Tom (Mathieson) got the shot away from the edge of the box and it was tipped over by the ‘keeper (Aaron Hogg). That was as good a piece of football as I’ve seen all season, and I thought we played really well in the first half.

“Yes, we gave a silly goal away, but I never had any doubts over the character of the players to respond, and we found our rhythm again and we ended the first half really well again. The second half was the same, and we got the goal early on in the half to equalise, which I felt we fully deserved at that point for the way we were playing.

“The players put the work in, they did their jobs on the pitch and I can’t fault them for that, I thought they showed character and put in a performance that showed how good they are.

“I have a lot of positive takeaways from the performance, and to be in the position we’re in, at the start of the season, you’d probably have bit your hand off for that, and there’s still six games to go and a lot can happen between now and then. I would say that I didn’t think we were as sharp in the final third as we could’ve been, which is the first time I would’ve said that in a while – from a finishing point of view, we’ve had one or two where we could’ve done slightly better, but we’re aware we were also playing against quality opposition on the night.

"I believe we’ll be stronger for a defeat like that, we’ll be better for it, and for us now, it’s about taking it into Wednesday night.”

Lee Feeney

Fyfe’s opener, which came after a loose play-out by goalkeeper James Taylor was intercepted by tall striker Zach Barr – it was his shot that was parried into the Coleraine loanee’s path to tap in – didn’t flatten Bangor, who had enjoyed the better of the play up to that point, and Hume’s leveller after defensive partner Lewis Francis headed Reece Neale’s delivery across Hogg’s goal nine minutes post the interval was well-deserved for a mentally resilient response.

It was, of course, to end in heartbreak, but with Ballygowan hero Hume becoming Bangor’s 15th different goalscorer in the 2023/24 campaign, Feeney feels the diversity in the scoring ranks has been of big benefit to the Seasiders.

“That’s been a credit to us this season, we’ve got goals from all over the team and there’s a lot of ways that we can put the ball in the back of the net. In that sequence, it’s a ball in from the right-hand side and big Lewis is in the right place to head it back across the face of goal, it causes problems in the Portadown defence and Davy is there to put the ball in for the equaliser. “We work on this in training, how we can find new ways to hurt our opponents and pick out spaces in the defence that we can capitalise on, and we’ve got a squad where a lot of players are able to score, and that’s benefited us a lot this season.”

“Listen, we’re far from done. There’s still a lot of football to be played, there’ll be other teams that slip up and we’ve got to do our best to capitalise when we get the chance. We’ll do a bit of work in training on Tuesday ahead of the Institute game, and that’s where we want to go and deliver a quick response.”

Lee Feeney

(Posted: Monday, 25th March 2024)

Charley Craig admitted it just wasn’t good enough from Bangor Reserves as they suffered a fourth successive defeat the Championship/PIL Development League on Saturday morning.

The defeat at Harland and Wolff Welders U21 was made all the harder to swallow given it was a second straight 3-1 loss having led at half-time, with striker Craig converting from the penalty spot on 17 minutes after Sam Millar was upended in the area, but three finishes after the hour mark from the hosts turned the tide and kept the points in Blanchflower Park.

It piled more frustration on David Downes’ charges, who also ceded top spot in the table to their opponents on Saturday – the Welders also retain two games in hand – and leaves the side playing catch-up in their bid to wrap up title glory.

Craig pointed to the lost leads, having lost each of their last three despite also scoring first against Queen’s University and Portadown beforehand, as the biggest sickener behind this challenging spell for the young Seasiders.

“Yeah, 100 per cent, it’s happened now two, three weeks in a row, which is not good enough. We’re not learning from our mistakes every week, the same thing’s happening; we’re just getting into half-time, getting a bit lackadaisical and then just… bottle it. We’re throwing it away and we’re just bottling it completely.

“But, no, we’ve got no excuse for ourselves, it’s just not good enough all over. We started well, the first half was good, we just didn’t take our chances enough. And then, obviously, I had a chance at the start of the second half which I should’ve taken myself. And again, it’s just not good enough all over.

“But yeah, we done really well in the first half, I thought. We played football, played the football we usually have this season, then it’s just been the same as the past two weeks. We’ve just got into half-time, talking about what happened in the past few games, and just completely bottled it the second half.

“We played football in spells in the second half as well, it was just them vital moments that loses games, and unfortunately, we’ve just been unlucky in those moments in the past couple of weeks."

Charley Craig

On where the game was won and lost, 18-year-old Craig, who figured alongside Jude Healy as a strike pairing on Saturday, felt cheap fouls and a lack of unity were contributing factors.

“Yeah, I feel like we just… second half, we were diving in, every challenge on the edge of the box,” he reflected. “And that’s what gave them the chance to get back into it. We were just giving silly fouls away, just not working for each other – I think that’s probably the biggest thing.

“The heart of the team is backing each other up, if someone goes down, picking them up, work harder for them. If you lose the ball, winning it back… it’s just, the word ‘team’ wasn’t there, and it’s simple at the end of the day, it just wasn’t good enough.”

Charley Craig

The season’s by no means a lost cause, though, and with 10th-placed Warrenpoint Town visiting Clandeboye Park next Saturday morning, there’s a chance to make swift amends.

Building up a head of steam is important for capitalising on any slip-ups from the challengers and with five games remaining, fate could well see the pendulum swing back in the Yellows’ favour if they enjoy a strong end.

“100 per cent, we just have to win all the games we’ve got,” Craig says. That’s all we can do. The rest is going to fall into place, if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen, so it’s down to us to win every single game we can and try and get as many points on the board.”

Charley Craig

(Posted: Sunday, 24th March 2024)

A fourth consecutive defeat befell Bangor Reserves on Saturday morning – and also saw them lose top spot in the Championship/PIL Development League – with a 3-1 defeat to new leaders Harland and Wolff Welders U21 at Blanchflower Park in east Belfast.

Bangor drew first blood with 17 minutes played. Some good work from Sam Millar was rewarded as his Welders counterpart upending the left-back as he chased the ball down, with Charley Craig blasting low into the bottom left corner after the referee pointed to the spot.

The visitors continued to enjoy chances in what remained of the first half after a start that also saw the Welders strike the upright, with strikers Charley Craig and Jude Healy causing problems among the frontline and Mitchel Watterson breaking forward from midfield, but the goal differential remained one at the interval.

An equaliser arrived on the stroke of the hour from a dead-ball situation. After a lunging tackle from Jacob Chisholm was just mistimed, the subsequent direct free-kick sailed over Mason Hume and into the top left corner as the Welders restored parity in the contest. From then, the hosts applied pressure while the visitors – in a changed blue away strip – sent the ball upfield to escape the strain, but it was the Welders who added the next goal with a close-range header on 79 minutes and they clinched it in added-time with a drilled low shot into the bottom right.

(Posted: Saturday, 23rd March 2024)

It was defeat in the most heartbreaking of fashions for Bangor on Friday night after a 94th-minute dagger denied the Seasiders a share of the spoils in an agonising 2-1 defeat to Portadown.

Having fought from behind when the Ports first took the lead on 24 minutes, as a loose play-out from goalkeeper James Taylor was intercepted by striker Zach Barr whose subsequent shot was parried into Eamon Fyfe's path for a tap-in, Kenny Kane's low finish after Taylor punched out Ross Redman's left-sided delivery clinched the three points for the hosts and handed Lee Feeney's Bangor just a second league defeat of 2024 in a painful way.

In between, the Yellows – wearing changed white – sparked scenes of ecstasy in a raucous away end when two centre-backs combined. After Lewis Francis headed back across the face of goal, David Hume slammed in an equaliser nine minutes after the interval before wheeling behind the goal where the Seasider faithful soaked the celebrations in.

But there was to be that final twist in the tale that saw Niall Currie's Portadown keep all the rewards on offer and leapfrog their visitors into second-place in the Playr-Fit Championship, with Bangor's focus swiftly turning to the final match of the pre-split on Wednesday evening when Institute visit Clandeboye Park.

GARY'S MATCH GALLERY

BANGOR TEAM:
J.Taylor, R.Neale, D.Hume, L.Francis, T.Mathieson, T.Mulvenna, S.McArthur(S.Foster), B.Arthurs, A.Neale(B.Cushnie), C.McDermott.
Subs: M.Orbinson, H.Beverland, M.Bradley, M.Halliday, B.Walker

NEXT MATCH:
Wednesday, 27.03.2024 - BANGOR v. INSTITUTE, Championship, Clandeboye Park, 8:00pm

(Posted: Friday, 22nd March 2024)

Season-defining is the word that springs to mind regarding Bangor Reserves’ clash with their Harland and Wolff Welders counterparts this Saturday at Blanchflower Park, with the Yellows staring into a first-versus-second battle that, in truth, they can’t really afford to lose.

After three straight defeats, the Seasiders are due a turn in fortunes and will be chomping at the bit to make sure past mistakes are put right in east Belfast. Following a real sickener last Saturday when Queen’s University turned the tables after Jack McCosh’s header sent Bangor into the break 1-0 up at Clandeboye Park, they were handed a third straight defeat following another comeback loss to Portadown (3-2) last Monday and a home reversal a fortnight ago against Dundela (2-0).

The fate is in the Welders’ hands as we speak given that they sit a point off the top and with a couple of games in hand, but what David Downes will be determined to achieve is to make key inroads that can stunt their opponents’ momentum – and that can be done should the Seagulls soar to three points here.

It’s a big game, and one where the visiting players will need little charging up for given what is at stake. It promises to be a cracker.


After letting slip the initiative in hugely disappointing fashion against Queen’s University last weekend, defender Jack McCosh insists there’s no better place for Bangor Reserves to show their steel than Blanchflower Park this Saturday. That’s because a first-versus-second battle will erupt as Harland and Wolff Welders’ young guns entertain David Downes’ Seasiders in a season-defining battle. Split by a point in the standings and with the Welders having two games in hand, it’s a must-not-lose at the very least should Bangor bid to keep charged up until the end.

They’d be setting the record straight with a win too. McCosh’s powerful header on the stroke of half-time put the hosts in front at a damp, drizzly Clandeboye Park last Saturday, but what followed were three sucker-punching Queen’s goals that instead inflicted a third successive loss after defeats to fellow high flyers Portadown and Dundela in the two weeks beforehand.

The 18-year-old said:

“We’re playing against the Welders who second in the league, they’re obviously in good form and they’ve beaten the Duns (on Saturday), so it’ll be a tough game obviously.

“But I think there’s no better place to do it, get back to winning ways and show the character we have in the squad, I think that’s really important for us.”

Jack McCosh

(Posted: Thursday, 21st March 2024)

The floodlights will be on and the leashes will be off as Bangor travel to Portadown on Friday night hopeful of producing a major flourish and boosting their standing ahead of the split.

The penultimate match for the Seasiders ahead of the final five, in which the Ports will travel to Clandeboye Park with the Playr-Fit Championship’s top five teams having all consolidated their top-half place, the visitors will move top with a win and above Dundela for a few hours at least while increasing their breathing space to Niall Currie’s side to five points – however, the jeopardy enters the equation because a Portadown win would instead lift them above the Seasiders and into second spot themselves.

It's a high-stakes encounter, and Portadown are buoyed after checking into North Down on Tuesday night and picking up three points courtesy of a 3-1 victory over Ards. Brandon Diau, Eamon Fyfe and Zach Barr hit the net after Max Miller’s opener for the Red and Blues, adding to the feelgood factor following Eoghan McCawl’s 97th-minute winner that sank Institute at the Brandywell at the weekend.

Bangor’s intention is to burst the BetMcLean Cup Finalists’ bubble and continue a run of just one defeat in 16 league outings – a run which, in fact, started with the 2-2 draw between the sides at Clandeboye back in mid-November, with the Yellows counting on a sublime solo goal by Scott McArthur to clinch victory in the first visit to Shamrock Park back in August. This is the only Irish League show in town on Friday and promises to be an unmissable blockbuster.


Portadown has been the first thing on Lee Feeney’s mind all week ahead of Bangor’s Friday night visit to Shamrock Park for a Playr-Fit Championship blockbuster.

Third in the league entertains second as Niall Currie’s Ports, who clinched a last-gasp win at Institute on Saturday before coming from behind to beat the Seasiders’ North Down rivals Ards at Clandeboye Park in midweek, aim to leapfrog their yellow-shirted opponents into the play-off position with the post-split just a couple of matchdays away. But Bangor, who have lost just one of their last 16 league matches – albeit did exit the Irish Cup at the hands of their next adversaries in February thanks to Zach Barr’s double – are in high spirits indeed and the mood in the playing camp is high on the back of a professional 5-0 triumph over basement side Knockbreda last week.

And the visiting manager wants that momentum to continue flowing as they stare into this weekend’s assignment. Victory would see them rise to 63 points and provisional pole over Dundela while leaving their hosts five points in their dust – but that’s easier said than done.

“I know it’s a boring old cliché, but we really do take it one game at a time. To be honest, I wasn’t even thinking about what happened at Institute. That hadn’t even crossed my mind, what the result was going to be; we’re just focused on ourselves.

“What was going to happen there was never going to be in our control. My focus has been on preparing the team on Friday night and setting us up to get a result in Portadown.

“They’ve got a lot of quality in their side, they’ve got talented players and they’ve obviously played in the League Cup Final, but our approach is to take every game one at a time and it’s about us going in with the right approach to pick up three points.

“After the full-time whistle (against Knockbreda), my focus was straight onto Portadown, and I told the boys after and they know what they need to do.”

Lee Feeney

(Posted: Thursday, 21st March 2024)

A message from Gareth Beattie after his testimonial for 10 years of tremendous service for Bangor FC:

Hello everyone, I would like to place on record my thanks to Michael Halliday, Dean Gordon, Social Club Chairman Alan Corbett and Rogie from the bar for putting this testimonial event on for me in celebration of 10 years of service for Bangor Football Club.

I also wish to express my gratitude to the Chairman Graham Bailie for granting me my testimonial, as well as my team-mates and the management team of Lee Feeney, Deano, John Douglas, Michael McClelland, Neil Gillespie, Lee Millar and Bradley Ferguson for being there to support me. Thanks also to Gary Faulkner ('Big G') for all the lifts to games up on the Bangor party bus every week, it's always great craic.

I must give out a massive thank you to my friends and family and each and every one of the loyal and dedicated Bangor fans who turned out to support me on my testimonial dinner and have backed me on the pitch through the hard times and the good. I wouldn't have reached this milestone without you and to be able to have won trophies and hopefully done you proud has been a huge honour.

Thanks as well to two great team-mates and friends, as well as Bangor heroes in Andy Long and Ethan Boylan, who gave speeches at the testimonial, and one person I owe it all to is the great Frankie Wilson, an inspirational man who gave me the chance to represent the club I love and whose influence on me has been so huge throughout my career and my 10 years as a Seasider.

Bangor is a truly amazing club run by an brilliant Board and Chairman, it's been a privilege to represent the club for the past 10 years, and hopefully, there's many more still to come.

Yellow and Blue Seasiders
GARETH BEATTIE

(Posted: Tuesday, 19th March 2024)

When all components in an operation run like clockwork, productivity is at its peak – and Lee Feeney felt that was exactly the case for his Bangor team on Friday night. Hailing his “machine” that churned out five goals and three more points that briefly propped the Seasiders top, the Clandeboye chief was brimming with pride at a professional display at home to Knockbreda that keeps his side ticking over.

Following successive 4-0 triumphs over Ballyclare Comrades and Ballinamallard United, the second half of the latter was the Yellows at their ruthless best, Feeney opined, and carried over perfectly into a third straight clean-sheet success against the Playr-Fit Championship’s basement dwellers. Truthfully, the damage was done by 18 minutes. Adam Neale’s early double on his first start since the Irish Cup Fifth Round defeat of Dergview in early January was added to by the league Player of the Month for February Scott McArthur and Tom Mathieson each slotting in from close range.

Although Ballynahinch ace Neale was denied a hat-trick after a penalty denial just before the hour mark, Ben Arthurs’ 23rd strike of the campaign 12 minutes from time – to add to a hat-trick of assists that takes him up to 13 in that metric – rubber-stamped a five-star account that floored the Castlereagh club. It left Kilkeel manager Feeney with a beaming smile after a display he adjudged to have been almost totally controlling. He reflected:

“We know Knockbreda are bottom of the league, but that didn’t influence our preparation at all going into it. We prepared for the game in the way we always prepare for every team in this league, we had them watched, we had our game plan sorted and at this stage of the season, you can’t afford to take liberties against anyone.

“I never doubt the boys, it’s one of the best dressing rooms I’ve ever been involved in and I know how many big characters we have, so I knew we wouldn’t get complacent or let our foot off or anything like that. I was really pleased last week. In the second half against Ballinamallard, you know, I thought we were a proper machine.

“We were controlling with possession, chances, we were closing down everywhere on the pitch and I felt we dominated. And on Friday night, I felt we were a machine as well. They (Knockbreda) had a period in the game where they were getting forward and created a few chances, they got shots on our goal and big James had to make a few saves.

“But I felt in the way that we controlled possession, created loads of chances… some of the football we were playing was absolutely unbelievable, and that’s where I feel we’re getting back to our best. I had felt we’d been winning games before, winning them comfortably on the scoreline but not really dominating in the way I’d have liked, but the last three halves of football, in terms of in possession, that’s where I want us to be at.

"It was a thoroughly professional performance.”

Lee Feeney

With four different goalscorers against ‘Breda just as against the Mallards the previous week, Feeney highlighted the importance of players from all across the pitch contributing in attack. It’s certainly reaping its rewards. Bangor, who are second-placed and just two points behind leaders Dundela, are 69-goal top scorers while also boasting the second-flight’s second-best defensive record (36 goals conceded), behind Institute. The Seagulls boss feels the whole squad is contributing and insists any overdependency on any one player would be detrimental to their chances.

“We were saying before the game, it’s important we have players chipping in from all over the pitch so we’re not being dependent on Big Ben and the likes of Adam (to score goals),” he continued. We had four different players score against Ballinamallard, from different positions on the pitch, and that was very pleasing.

“We had four on Friday night as well, and we’re also getting players from all over the pitch creating chances and being involved in building up into the final third, and that’s massively important.”

It was also a third successive clean sheet, and Feeney reserved plaudits for goalkeeper Taylor who, ahead of his 40th birthday, is aging like a fine wine.

“Three clean sheets in a row, and in every one of those clean sheets, you know, James has been called into it, he’s had to make a big save. And I know it feels weird to say as he’s been in the game a long time, but actually, I think he’s getting better with age.

“He’s made a big difference with his organisation, his vocal presence, and with bodies being missing from the defence due to injury, players have had to step up and be leaders in that part of the pitch. Reece filled in at left centre-back again, Tom’s been playing out at wing-back, so it’s about the collective – that’s always been the way of it from I first came in, that we’ve got to focus on the collective and make sure everybody’s contributing.

“It’s a squad game and everyone’s at the heart of it. We’re getting more back from injury, with Seanna (Foster), Beats (Gareth Beattie), Marty Bradley’s been carrying knocks so to have them all involved is good ahead of the run-in.”

Feeney also had to take a moment to process a phenomenal run of form that’s now been extended to just a single defeat in 16. With third-placed Portadown and Institute in fourth to come in the final two matches before the split, he saluted the way his panel have acquitted themselves and reared their head into the conversation at the top of the table. He looked back:

“One defeat in 16, and that defeat (a 3-2 loss at Wilgar Park on February 13) was my fault up at the Duns because of the way I set up that night. You think back to the end of October, we had that wobble with the 4-0 defeat to Institute and then getting beat 3-0 by Ballinamallard at home. I’d never any doubt we’d respond from that, but then there was when Newington beat us (on November 11), we dominated that game but we were wasteful and we didn’t take our chances and we ended up losing the game.

“Since then, it’s just clicked, and how good the players have been and the effort they’ve put in. That game (against Newington), we just couldn’t hit the target, and since then, we’ve just put that right and the rest has just spoken for itself. But we’ve also got two massive games coming up before the split, and I believe we can continue to improve and that can start for us in the run-in.”

Lee Feeney

(Posted: Monday, 18th March 2024)

When it rains, it pours, and Jack McCosh gave an honest reaction to a defeat where Bangor Reserves weren’t really able to weather the storm. The defender’s powerful back-post header on the stroke of half-time was the highlight of the Seasiders’ first half and put them deservedly ahead at the break, with Jay Boyd also enjoying a pair of presentable opportunities before the half-hour mark, but Queen’s University’s reply in the second period was to race out of the traps and turn the tie on its head, winning 3-1.

It was a third consecutive defeat for David Downes’ young Yellows, who enter a first-versus-second battle with Harland and Wolff Welders at Blanchflower Park next weekend, following a 2-0 home loss to Dundela and a 3-2 reversal at Portadown on Monday night, when Bangor twice led but ultimately fell at the hands of a last-gasp finish by the hosts at Shamrock Park.

Centre-back McCosh, who notched his second goal since arriving at the club, admitted it was a game of two halves and feels the side paid the price for their own mistakes on Saturday.

“Well, I think the first half, we started off a bit here and there, it was up in their air, and then we got a foot on it I think, and then we started playing, we started to create chances, Jay had two big chances. We were making chances, we were pushing for it and then I got a good header at the end at the end of the first half.

“The second half, we went out, and we said to ourselves, we have to go out and think about Monday because obviously the same thing happened, so it was just really disappointing, the second half. We took our foot of it, we let them get into the game and then they got one back and we just lost our heads, I think. We weren’t looking out for our men, we were all over the place at one point, so I think that’s what let us down, our own mistakes basically.

“I don’t think they caused us too much, it was just more our own mistakes led us into bad habits and stuff like that.”

18-year-old McCosh arrived from Crusaders in January and has added physical presence to the backline, and in assessing his time at Clandeboye Park so far, he says he’s enjoying his football and pleased to be getting minutes under his best.

A return to winning ways would brighten his mood even more, but he’s built up confidence and is relishing getting opportunities to shine.

“Well, at the start, I think I was a bit here and there because I needed to bring my confidence back up. I feel as I’ve built my confidence obviously back up to where I need it to be, I feel I’ve been settling in well.

“I’m enjoying it, I can’t complain, obviously I’m getting minutes and getting more fit every day. Just the results, we need to bounce back.”

Jack McCosh

(Posted: Sunday, 17th March 2024)

Bangor Reserves' title ambitions were dealt a further blow at a cold and wet Clandeboye Park on Saturday morning, handed a third straight Championship/PIL defeat by Queen's University U21 who stormed to a 3-1 comeback success.

A game of precious few chances ignited on 24 minutes when Bangor created an enticing opening in the final third. Mitchel Watterson swivelled and seared towards goal before stinging the palms of the Queen's keeper, with Jay Boyd side-footing the rebound over the bar from 10 yards with the goal gaping.

Boyd drew a super save minutes later as Bangor tightened their grip on a strong first period, but the Seasiders' pressure paid on the stroke of half-time when a bullet header at the back stick by centre-back Jack McCosh broke the deadlock.

But Queen's flew out of the traps in the second half and Marc Orbinson could do nothing to prevent the Students' equaliser 10 minutes after the restart. A sweeping delivery in was powered into the back of the net by the visitors and put the pressure back on the home side, who conceded a second after the hour after a free-kick delivery was stabbed home from close in.

It got worse for the Yellows on 68 minutes after a deflected ball into the box was turned in at the bottom right corner, compounding what was a miserable day in the pouring rain.

(Posted: Saturday, 16th March 2024)

An early four goal blitz helped send the Seasiders back to the top of the Playr-Fit Championship this evening.

Scott McArthur, Tom Mathieson and Adam Neale(2) were all on target for Bangor in the first half, while Ben Arthurs headed home the fifth in the 78th minute.

BANGOR TEAM:
J.Taylor, R.Neale, L.Francis, D.Hume(G.Beattie), T.Mathieson(S.Foster), T.Mulvenna(M.Bradley), L.Harrison, C.McDermott(B.Walker), B.Arthurs, A.Neale(M.Halliday), S.McArthur.
Subs: M.Orbinson, M.Watterson

JORDAN'S MATCH GALLERY

NEXT MATCH:
Friday, 22nd March - PORTADOWN v BANGOR, Championship, Shamrock Park, 7:45pm

(Posted: Friday, 15th March 2024)

Saturday, March 16 – Bangor Reserves vs Queen’s University U21, Championship/PIL Development League, Clandeboye Park, 11am

A home showdown presents Bangor Reserves with the opportunity to make a much-craved return to winning ways when high-flying Queen’s University travel to Clandeboye Park in the Championship/PIL Development League this weekend.

The Seasiders, who are reeling from a 3-2 defeat on the road against Portadown Reserves on Monday night – a game they led twice before an added-time winner for the Ports proved the sucker punch at the end – have lost twice in a row having also been beaten 2-0 at home by Dundela the Saturday before.

They hadn’t tasted defeat in the league all season prior to the latter outing, but now is a time for showing their steel.

With the Students, who sit fifth, this Saturday and Harland and Wolff Welders in a top two showdown at Blanchflower Park next weekend, two wins out of two would relight Bangor’s title flame once more, with David Downes hoping for a fired-up reaction after an opening-season run of 19 matches without defeat that had fired his team all the way to the summit.

The Yellows won the previous encounter 1-0 at The Dub, with Charley Craig bagging the only goal of the game back on November 4, however Queen’s are an in-form animal and enter on the back of six triumphs in their last seven matches. With the pressure turned up, the hosts know they must be on top form to take the points.

(Posted: Friday, 15th March 2024)

Friday, March 15 – Bangor vs Knockbreda, Playr-Fit Championship, Clandeboye Park, 7:45pm

The post-split is nearing in the Playr-Fit Championship, and it’s full steam ahead for Bangor in the third-from-last match until the division is separated into top half and bottom half as the Seasiders entertain basement team Knockbreda on Friday night.

Fresh off the back of sealing an emphatic 4-0 triumph at Ballinamallard United last Saturday, that trek west is followed by something a little closer to home this weekend with ‘Breda, still fighting for their second-tier survival despite only seven points to their name, aiming to lead yet another great escape and use this Friday’s floodlit encounter as their springboard.

Lee Feeney will be leaving nothing to chance knowing that the yellow-shirted outfit from the Castlereagh Hills have scooped up four of their seven points at Clandeboye, having overcame Ards in a shock 2-1 triumph on their last visit after an earlier 1-1 draw. This is also the same Knockbreda who, a little under two years ago, sucker-punched the Seasiders in the promotion/relegation play-off in one of those famous successful survival bids in recent times, thus Bangor, who are 50 points better off than the east Belfast men, know they must still be on top form and not let complacency seep in.

As if that’s not incentive enough, the hosts, who defeated Knockbreda 5-1 at Breda Park on a Sunday special in October and 4-1 on a cold Friday night in December in the last two meetings of the sides in 2023/24, can rocket into top spot in the Championship on at least a provisional basis and become the first side in the second-tier to hit 60 points with a victory. This clash promises much and you don’t want to miss it.

(Posted: Thursday, 14th March 2024)

Throughout the course of 10 years of playing time at a club, reflecting and picking out the standout moments can be a seriously tall order. But Gareth Beattie has shown time and time again that he is never one to shy away from a challenge, and ahead of the defender’s testimonial in the Bangor Social Club on St Patrick’s Day (Sunday, March 17), he looked back fondly at his time in the yellow and blue shirt and dissected some of the highs and lows that will live with him forever.

The right-back is as tough as teak and his no-nonsense style of play has come in for much admiration among the Seasiders faithful, a player who truly wears his heart on his sleeve going into each and every game and whose commitment to the cause is beyond question.

Playing in three different levels of the pyramid, going down and coming all the way back up, it’s been a rollercoaster ride and the 32-year-old has become a hero of a generation having stuck through any and all twists and turns.

Beattie was given his big break by the late Frankie Wilson, under whom he won the Steel and Sons Cup in 2011 when the Seagulls defeated Larne on Christmas Eve, and that silver lining so early in his career proved very much a means to go on.

As a young lad of 20 at the centre of attention inside a packed Seaview that festive term, sealing an honour he dreamt of clinching from an early age brought some ecstatic feelings for ‘Beats’ as Gareth McLaughlin and Garth Scates hit the target against the Inver Reds.

A man of the town, Beattie began by paying an emotional tribute to former boss Wilson, who sadly passed away in October 2022 after a battle with cancer, for trusting in a young talent with a big future to produce the goods.

"It was absolutely fantastic, there was no better feeling. The Steel and Sons is absolutely one of the biggest trophies you can win.

"I went and watched it (the Final) plenty of times and it was always something that I wanted to win, and to get it at such an early stage as I did was great. And obviously, under Frankie, him giving me the chance to do it was absolutely… I couldn’t thank him enough, I really couldn’t.

"I couldn’t praise Frankie Wilson highly enough, I really couldn’t.”

Beattie was no stranger to Clandeboye Park, of course. Before he took the field, he was an interested supporter from the stands.

Balancing his time between his two local football loves, Bangor and Linfield, the full-back always held faith that he would one day pull on the shirt and play in the Irish League. He reminisced about conversations with his brother about just what he could do if he was given the opportunity, knowing that if he got the chance to go out and play in front of the faithful himself, he would feel fulfilled.

After a decade of service for the Seasiders over spells from 2011 to 2013 and then again from 2015 to the present day – a month-long spell with Knockbreda in 2017 the solitary interruption – would stand to that feeling of fulfilment on paper, and Beattie agrees.

Bangor’s a club I’ve watched from I was a young kid, you know what I mean? When Bangor was at home, I watched Bangor at home; whenever Linfield was home, I watched Linfield at home. Whoever was at home, that was the team I went to watch, that was obviously as a kid, you couldn’t travel anywhere, so between Bangor and Linfield, they were my two teams.

“Whenever I was a kid, me and my brother and watched Bangor games at home, I always said to my brother, ‘see if I ever get the chance to play here, I would be over the moon’. And, as I say, to look back now over 10 years and say basically what I said all those years ago, to me, it would probably be my biggest achievement to say that I’ve actually reached 10 years at a club that I always wanted to play for.

“So, to play for (Bangor) and to do it, to me, if anyone’s asking me what my biggest achievement, that’s what it would be.”

When Beattie returned for his second spell with Bangor, the club was on a downward slope that would ultimately culminate in relegation to the Ballymena and Provincial Intermediate League in 2017.

It represented the lowest low in the Seasiders’ near century-long history. Slipping out of the organised Irish League set-up into the regional ranks after successive relegations was nothing short of humiliating and would have tested the resolve of even the most ardent supporters to continue following.

But having returned following his brief time at ‘Breda and despite transfer interest, there were never any other options on the table for Beattie, who knew he had a point to prove when committing to the cause for a time that will now be remembered as the start of the rebirth.

"I'm a fighter, you know what I mean?” he declared. “See if there’s a fight or a challenge, I would be there. I’m your man.

“So, to see Bangor going down all those leagues and to see people walk away from them at that time, seeing people play for different clubs, that was never my intention. I was never going to leave. I got some offers to go to some big-name teams and I could’ve progressed in a different way in my football career, but I chose to fight for Bangor, to get them back up the leagues.

“I swore to myself and other people that know me that I would never leave Bangor until I got them into the league where I started.

“To get here this year in my 10th year is brilliant, but to actually win this league this year or even get promoted into the Irish League, it would be even bigger.

“So, to me, I think my own personal achievement is to get this far and get them back to where they belong, I feel like I’ve done what I set out to do. So, I’ll be happy with that.”

During the Ballymena League years, Beattie pocketed three trophies – the O’Gorman Cup in 2018 plus the BPIL title and McReynolds Cup the following year.

Winning the fourth-tier title as invincibles back in 2019, with just a goalless draw at home to Ballymoney United blotting an otherwise perfect league crusade, was a big achievement and done in a division that featured respected opposition such as Donegal Celtic, St James’ Swifts and Brantwood.

In winning the O’Gorman against Glebe Rangers, where Ross Craig and Gerard McMullan were the scorers in a 2-2 draw before Darren Gibbons – who received his testimonial last year – turned the hero with two penalty saves in a 3-0 shoot-out victory, it did not come with that prized promotion, but that was put right through the first of two double successes in the space of just four years.

In the McReynolds, McMullan was on target again alongside three modern titans who are still team-mates of Beattie’s today in Ben Arthurs, Michael Halliday and Scott McArthur in a 4-1 victory over St James’ at Allen Park in Antrim, and glory in the BPIL came courtesy of an astonishing 27 victories in the 28 league outings.

“No, it was brilliant,” he says of those early trophies. “People say, ‘aw, the league you’re playing in, it was wick, all the teams you were playing against, you were supposed to win’, but nobody’s got any given right to win any match on a Saturday.

“You need to go out to win, everybody was out to stop us. We were a big team, everybody wanted to beat us every week, so that makes it 10 times harder.

“So, to go out… even the season we didn’t get beat, you know, we went unbeaten, there’s not many teams can do that there. It’s alright saying these teams weren’t great, but these teams were great. St James’… you’d some big teams in that league that could quite easily beat you on the day.

“But we were big enough and we were good enough not to let them.”

The 2023 feat that made Beattie one of the elusive ‘double-double’ winners on the seaside, in which Bangor reclaimed their senior status by winning the Premier Intermediate League and his second Steel Cup in the yellow and blue shirt, is his “best moment”, as he revealed.

“To win the league last year and get us back into the Championship, that would be my best moment,” he smiles.

“I set out, whenever we got relegated, I always set it out, I had it in my head, if I get Bangor back into the Championship, I feel like I’ve done my job.

“Because I’ve gone down with them and I’ve risen back up with them, so to get them back into the Championship where I first started with them.

“To me, I would say that would probably be mine (best moment), to get them back. In my eyes, I feel like I’ve got them back to where they belong.

“Not as me, as a team, but me being a part of it for all those years.”

The testimonial comes as a richly deserved piece of recognition for so much tremendous service over the years, and Beattie admits that the football family and special connection he’s felt over the years at Bangor has kept his appetite for more burning bright.

Supporting the club home and away, be it on the pitch or off it, is a special honour for him, and he was in attendance at the 4-0 win over Ballinamallard United at Ferney Park – a four-hour-round, 200-plus-mile trip – to will his team-mates on from the stands in Fermanagh.

It’s part and parcel of Beattie’s character, and to be viewed as a hero among the terraces gives him immense pride. Whatever role he plays, he has always put the badge on top; it’s for that why he is so respected and adored by so many.Reflecting on the past, enjoying the present and looking forward to the future, the name of Gareth Beattie is enshrined in the archives and his incredible contribution is a credit to him.

“It is a good family club, it’s my family club and it’s always been my club. Even before I played for Bangor, it was still my club, and to play for them, as I say, over 10 years, it’s my biggest achievement, so I’ve never looked back.

“And I’m just happy to see… I’ve been able to play for them for 10 years and it’s gradually been getting better and better.

“I’ve always had to chase people out of my spot, let them know it’s my spot! Obviously, this year’s been a wee bit more frustrating, obviously with the injury… a wee bit last year, too.

“But these things happen, you know what I mean? You could walk away, you could leave, you can just do what everybody else does, but I don’t.

“I turn up every week, home and away, and I still support the team. Even if I’m not playing, even as a supporter, so that’s how much the club means to me. Andy Morrow was my hero when I was younger, so whenever I started going to matches, he was my hero.

“But now, eras move on, so you’ve supporters looking back on 10 years or bits of it and whose names they think of with Bangor, and maybe, it’ll be mine. But maybe in another few years’ time, could be Big Ben (Arthurs), could be somebody else, could be their heroes, so these are just the way things go.

“But these are the names you always remember, like Andy Morrow’s the man for me, some people used to say who was the best player you know, Morrow’s your man. There’s lots of people, but it’s been great having people knowing me for helping the club get back up and what I’ve done here, I’m very proud of that.”

Gareth Beattie

Legend can be an overused word in football, but Bangor’s Gareth Beattie merits that word and then some.

(Posted: Tuesday, 12th March 2024)

Bangor Reserves’ bid for an immediate return to winning ways fell short on Monday night as a frustrating 3-2 defeat to Portadown Reserves at Shamrock Park marked their second loss in a row during a crunch stretch in March.

After a 2-0 reversal at home to Dundela, the young Seasiders were on the road and looked to be on the right track in Co Armagh, having twice led the contest – 1-0 and 2-1 – before their hosts, third-placed and nine games unbeaten before kick-off, clinched all three points with the odd goal in five. Combined with a Harland and Wolff Welders win on the same night, with the second-placed side in the Championship/PIL Development League picking up the maximum haul following a 5-2 triumph away to Warrenpoint Town, the gap at the summit has been cut to four points – the Welders maintain having two games in hand, with Bangor due to travel to Blanchflower Park in a fortnight’s time hopeful of success.

First, however, comes a home clash with Queen’s University, in fifth, this Saturday as Bangor aim to hit the winning groove and build a head of steam beforehand, although second string boss David Downes knows there is pressure on his team to see through their title charge and make the most of what remains. The Yellows remain atop the tree having secured 53 points from their 21 outings played to date.

(Posted: Tuesday, 12th March 2024)

The collective effort was at the forefront of left wing-back Reece Neale’s post-match analysis after Bangor kept their grip on second-place and boosted their promotion credentials with a 4-0 win over Ballinamallard United on Saturday.

A 200-mile-round trip was worth its weight in gold when referee Stewart Long’s final whistle sounded at Ferney Park, with a couple of goals in each half ensuring Lee Feeney’s Seasiders left with all three points in Co Fermanagh and making sure that a formidable run of form was extended to 11 victories in the last 14 Playr-Fit Championship outings.

Scott McArthur, who has just been crowned NIFWA Championship Player of the Month, took just four minutes to break the deadlock when he guided Ben Arthurs’ headed flick-on into the net before centre-back Lewis Francis swivelled to rifle home a fabulous ninth goal of the campaign with virtually the last kick of the first half.

Kircubbin favourite Arthurs headed in a clinching third 13 minutes from the end and repaid a fabulous bit of closing down from super sub Adam Neale in the process – that’s 22 this term for the 25-year-old top marksman – and there was still the time for one last cherry on top when captain Lewis Harrison bulleted home midfield partner Tiarnan Mulvenna’s sublime corner kick delivery in second-half stoppage-time.

Vice-skipper Neale, who is closing in on three years in a Bangor shirt, subsequently hailed the spirit in the dressing room after what was firmly a team-orientated triumph out west.

“I’ve been in good changing rooms before, but this one’s just completely different,” the Ballynahinch man beamed.

“Any time we have even a team night out and stuff, we have the whole squad, we’ve 30 boys going, that says everything you need to know. Like, everything we do, everything’s as a team, there’s no wee groups, there’s nothing; everyone’s just one big family. Everyone looks out for each other, takes the p*** out of each other, nobody’s sitting in a corner or staying shy. Everyone’s involved in everything that we do, so it’s absolutely brilliant.”

Former Linfield Academy ace Neale added that a second-half showing, punctuated perhaps best by the work his older brother did to win the ball high up the pitch before swinging the ball into Arthurs to guide home, was a ‘dominant’ follow-up to a first period that did show one or two cracks in the defence.

The Mallards reacted well after going behind and enjoyed chances through Josh McIlwaine, Simon Warrington and James McGrath that they’d otherwise feel they should’ve buried. But the visitors’ mean streak shone through and, after the interval, the points were great value. Assessing his own display, Reece said: “Personally for me, I thought I did alright, tried to keep the team together the whole way through the game as I do, there was a lot of communication.

“I thought as a team, we kept our shape very well, both halves, even in the first half, couple of light chances for them, we gave them most of them.

“And then second half, we came out a different animal and we just played the way we can play and dominated the game, I think.” There were also four different assisters to add to the quartet of scorers, to which Neale summarises: “That’s been the theme of our season, I think. Obviously, Big Ben’s come up with a lot of big goals, big Lewis as well.

“See there, Adam came on the pitch and he’s completely changed the game for us, he chased everything down and his first touch, everything was brilliant, he helped the team massively and done very, very well. But it’s been the story of our season, everyone’s been chipping in. Obviously Big Ben’s way out in front in terms of goals, wee Scotty’s there scoring goals, both Lewises scoring goals and all now. I just think, as a collective, (that’s been) very, very good that everyone’s contributing.”

Reece Neale

Bangor are in action again next Friday night when basement team Knockbreda come to Clandeboye Park, but Neale – who achieved promotion to the Premiership with Carrick Rangers in 2019 – won’t take the Castlereagh club lightly despite them having picked up merely seven points this term. Breda were beaten by the Seasiders’ fellow promotion chasers Institute 3-0 on Saturday, but examples of their mettle, including a 2-1 away success over Ards and a 1-0 defeat to league leaders Dundela where they kept it scoreless until Willie Faulkner’s winner 10 minutes from time, are enough for Reece to know they can dish out a sucker punch if the Seagulls aren’t careful.

“We’re just sort of on our own boat, it’s an old cliché isn’t it? We just look after ourselves,” he stressed. "But I think we’ve been doing that ourselves all season here. We’ve came in, went under the radar quite a bit and now I think people are starting to realise what we are.

“We’re here to challenge, and we’ve always believed that, we’ve always had belief in ourselves. Yeah, there’s no reason why we can’t push on now, but we’ll not get too far ahead; one game at a time.

“We’ve a massive game next week, Knockbreda, I know they’re down at the bottom but it’s a huge game, they’re capable of causing really tight games, causing upsets. They beat Ards as well and held the Duns down to 1-0, the Duns scored a late goal, so you just don’t know.

“And especially in this league, you know what it’s like, so yeah, we’ll keep our feet on the ground and we’ll keep working towards our goal.”

(Posted: Sunday, 10th March 2024)

BALLINAMALLARD UNITED 0-4 BANGOR

Bangor were to the four in Fermanagh on Saturday after taking down Ballinamallard United 4-0 at Ferney Park and moving to within two points of Playr-Fit Championship leaders Dundela with a display that, if not always a formality, was still one to leave Lee Feeney very satisfied.

The visitors took the lead just four minutes in as Ben Arthurs' astute headed knock-down found Scott McArthur, and the recently crowned NIFWA Championship Player of the Month bagged the opener and his 11th goal of the season when he fired low into the bottom right corner past Mallards stopper Jamie Ray.

Anxiety among a buoyant away support was momentarily sparked when David Hume's intervention with home counterpart Josh McIlwaine had to be quickly saved from becoming an own goal by James Taylor, before the Bangor goalkeeper's stray ball out from the back on 21 minutes was fortunate not to be pounced on by Simon Warrington, who could only find the side netting from 10 yards out.

Bangor settled after, but that preceded a spell where James McGrath blazed wide with the goal at his mercy eight minutes from half-time and McIlwaine diverted a header off-target leading into the interval. Though, with the last kick, Bangor doubled their initiative and added security; centre-back Lewis Francis turned and fired home from namesake Lewis Harrison's header into the danger area.

The Seasiders began the second half with intent as a Reece Neale free-kick was caught by Ray before Conor McDermott's delectable right-wing cross was just unable to be trapped under Arthurs' spell. Another effort from the 25-year-old, buoyed after extending his contract to 2026, was clutched by Ray afterwards, but he made a deserved mark 13 minutes from time after Adam Neale superbly won possession high on the left and crossed for the Kircubbin ace to guide in.

And there was a last flourish three minutes into added-time in a half where Bangor enjoyed a much greater sense of authority when captain Lewis Harrison bulleted home Tiarnan Mulvenna's corner that rubber-stamped the victory. The result puts Bangor on 57 points and, in the wake of Dundela's East Belfast Derby defeat to H&W Welders, the Seasiders now have the chance to go top against Knockbreda next Friday night.

GARY'S MATCH GALLERY

BANGOR TEAM:
J.Taylor, R.Neale, D.Hume, L.Francis, T.Mathieson(B.Walker), C.McDermott, L.Harrison, T.Mulvenna, B.Cushnie(A.Neale), B.Arthurs, S.McArthur(M.Watterson)
Subs: M.Orbinson, M.Bradley, S.Foster, M.Halliday

NEXT MATCH:
Friday, 15th March - BANGOR v KNOCKBREDA, Championship, Clandeboye Park, 7:45pm

(Posted: Saturday, 9th March 2024)

Saturday, March 9 – Portadown Reserves vs Bangor Reserves, Championship/PIL Development League, Shamrock Park, 11am

A bruised Bangor Reserves will lick their wounds and bid to bounce back fighting at Shamrock Park this weekend when they face an in-form, third-placed Portadown.

David Downes’ men were hit by a sucker punch last time out when they were beaten 2-0 at home by Dundela Reserves – their first league defeat of the 2023/24 campaign – but against the Ports, who emphatically conquered second-placed Harland and Wolff Welders U21 when on the road last weekend, they can mount a swift return to winning ways and keep their title charge motoring throughout a tricky March.

With fifth-placed Queen’s University to follow at Clandeboye Park next Saturday, followed by a trip to the Welders – who are seven points down on the Seasiders with two games in hand – on March 23, this clash with Portadown, who are 14 points behind their weekend rivals with three games in hand and sealed a 1-1 draw when the sides met in the reverse outing in September, carries importance for the league leaders given momentum in this tough stretch is sure to be telling in a tense title race.

The players will hope that loss to the Duns, who netted early in the first half and late in the second to seal the deal, clicks them into gear for the tests to come. The margin for error is minimal at a crunch stage in the campaign and the points that can be dropped must be few and far between if any side wants to lead the race, so Bangor are aiming to prove their credentials with three precious points here that would lift them to 56 from 63 in the table.

(Posted: Friday, 8th March 2024)

After 15 days, Bangor’s first-team are back in action in the Playr-Fit Championship and begin their March agenda with a long-haul trip to Ballinamallard United on Saturday afternoon.

The Seasiders, who are second-place in the league and retained that position while Institute and Portadown were in Irish Cup quarter-final action, will mathematically confirm a top-six place for the split with a victory at Ferney Park that could also close the gap to the leaders Dundela, who extended their advantage at the summit to five points thanks to a thumping 4-0 triumph over Ards at Wilgar Park last weekend.

In the first meeting with the Fermanagh side and 2019 Irish Cup Finalists since the tail end of October, there is curiosity in that from each of the first two encounters this season, the away side were 3-0 winners. When the Seasiders first travelled west, they spread their wings after Ben Cushnie’s late brace added to Ben Arthurs’ early opener last September, however the Mallards returned the favour at Clandeboye Park on October 28 when Simon Warrington, Darragh Byrne and Jamie McGrath prevailed in wet conditions that really was the perfect weather for ducks.

It'll also be a third different manager on the touchline; Harry McConkey led them in that first battle, Mark Stafford was in interim charge the second time around, while now, ex-Dergview boss Tommy Canning will be in the dugout adjacent to Lee Feeney for what is the fourth-from-last outing before the split for the Yellows. Ballinamallard, who are four points out from a top-half spot with three games left for them to play, promise to be fired up for a duel that could have further twists and turns.

(Posted: Thursday, 7th March 2024)

Bangor began their pre-season ahead of the 2024 campaign on a losing note with a 7-0 defeat to Linfield Women at Midgley Park on Wednesday evening.

The first 15 minutes saw Linfield largely dominate the ball and the chances, with Giulia McLaughlin forced into a number of clever stops early on to keep the Women's Premiership side at bay, but the pressure paid off when the hosts broke the deadlock with a rifled effort towards the top left corner from a distance.

Bangor came out fighting afterwards, with Janine Jess denied in a one-on-one when she won possession and caught the Linfield defence unawares, but the Blues doubled the advantage on 34 minutes with a powerful low effort into the bottom right past McLaughlin's dive.

Four minutes later, it was three through a towering header by former Lisburn Rangers markswoman Eve Reilly and the Seasiders entered the interval 3-0 down. Four minutes after the restart, a penalty presented the hosts to add another and they made no mistake from 12 yards as they added a fourth.

The visitors, in changed white, continued to see out pressure and make occasional forays forward for much of what remained, but Linfield added a fifth on 74 minutes with a long-distance looping finish. Six minutes later, a sweet curler from 10 yards made it six, and a last-minute seventh put the cherry on top of the cake as far as the scoreline was concerned.

(Posted: Thursday, 7th March 2024)

Bangor FC has announced the expansion of their chaplaincy team.

Gary Faulkner remains as the first team chaplain, a role he has held since 2017. Leah Emberson continues as Bangor FC Ladies chaplain and James Crothers comes on board as academy chaplain.

Gary Faulkner said: “The Bangor FC chaplaincy team is trained and fully supported by Sports Chaplaincy UK. Our central objective is to provide pastoral support, help, care and encouragement to everyone involved with Bangor FC. This includes players, management, volunteers and supporters.

“We are here to serve everyone at the club, regardless of faith or beliefs. Tough times and struggles are part and parcel of football and life in general, and the chaplaincy team is always available to provide support and to ensure people don’t forget that you are loved and cared for.”

Gary continued: “I have an amazing team to work with at the club. Leah has already four years experience working with the ladies team. She provides support and shows love, kindness and empathy in all she does. James Is new to the team and will be there for those that may need a little guidance. In his day job he works with young adults with mental health, drugs and alcohol issues.”

Bangor FC Chaplains can be contacted by emailing gfaulkner@sportschaplaincy.org.uk

Bangor FC Chairman Graham Bailie said: “We benefit enormously from having Gary and his team at Bangor, especially as they have an impressive amount of pastoral knowledge and experience.

“As the club continues to grow, and reach out further into the community, it is important to us that we have the expertise and support in place to offer a chaplaincy service to all.

“Everyone involved with the Seasiders can contact any of our chaplains, confidentially, when in need of a listening ear, pastoral care or spiritual support.”

(Posted: Tuesday, 5th March 2024)

Ruairi Wright gave an honest reaction to Bangor Reserves’ first league defeat of the season against their Dundela counterparts on Saturday, admitting that the visitors were good value for the three precious points they achieved in the Championship/PIL Development League.

The Seasiders struggled to break down a stern Duns defence at Clandeboye Park and were hit by two goals at the start and end of the contest, with a fine free-kick firing the away side, who are fourth in the division, into the lead mere minutes in before sealing the contest with a placed shot into the corner seven minutes from time.

They do, however, retain their seven-point lead at the summit after second-placed Harland and Wolff Welders, who have two matches in hand, were also beaten at home on Saturday – 4-0 by Portadown, who sit third and are 14 points from David Downes’ league leaders having played three games fewer.

The Ports are Bangor’s next opponents at Shamrock Park and are unbeaten in nine, with the Welders also to come on March 23 following the visit of high-flying Queen’s University in fifth in what is potentially a title-deciding stretch of games this month.

Wright hopes the Yellows have got the worst out of their system and will hit their peak performance again sooner rather than later.

“We knew coming into today, it’s not going to be easy. Obviously, to go 1-0 down, and then… our backs are always against it.

“We started slow, they grew into the game, they wanted it more, and, listen, in football, you’re going to go on an easy ride. Even the best teams lose, so now, it’s just, how do we get back into winning ways, how do we work for each other again, how do we bounce back.

“We’ve got a tough month coming up with another three good teams, so it’s a bit of a wake-up call, maybe we needed it coming into this tough month. And, you know, it’s just how do we bounce back.”

Ruairi Wright

The 20-year-old forward, who was sprung from the bench against the Duns and scored in the previous weekend’s 7-0 win over Newington, was in no doubt where the duel was decided.

“Hard work. It just came down to hard work.

“They (Dundela) worked for each other, it took us 40 minutes, maybe on the half, to start actually going for the second ball. Even towards the end, second ball, it was won and lost with who wanted the second ball more.

"First ball and the second, they were first to it, so credit to them and, you know, we just need to move on from it now.”

Ruairi Wright

The losing feeling is not one that the Reserves have been accustomed to lately – not in the league since a 5-2 reversal at Warrenpoint Town in May towards the tail end of last term – but it is a sensation they must conjure up a response to.

Wright insists it is by no means panic stations and says the squad won’t change their mentality of taking every match as it comes for this crunch set of fixtures.

“We’re going to do what we’ve done all season, take each game as it comes. You can’t just look past your next game, you know, maybe, we have Portadown, Queen’s and then the Welders.

“You’ve got Portadown first, get through that and then we take it another game and another game and just, see what happens to the end of the season.”

Ruairi Wright

Seanna Foster, meanwhile, completed the full duration of a match for the first time since the 4-0 Playr-Fit Championship triumph over Annagh United on November 25 and is pleased his continued road to recovery is well on the right track.

The Cliftonville loanee, who underwent knee surgery in December, has made three features as a substitute for the first-team in 2024 but started his first game since that success away at the BMG Arena. While disappointed with the outcome of the match, the 27-year-old is on the mend and building sharpness.

“It’s a full 90, that was my first full 90 in 15 weeks,” right wing-back Foster said.

“Disappointing (the result), I know there’s still a bit to go for me personally, but it’s good to be out there and good to get minutes under my belt again and build back up to speed.”

Seanna Foster

(Posted: Sunday, 3rd March 2024)

Bangor Reserves suffered their first defeat of the Championship/PIL Development League season in their 20th match when Dundela left Clandeboye Park with all three points and inflicted a 2-0 defeat upon their hosts.

The Duns drew first blood mere minutes into the game through a fine free-kick finish, with Bangor replying with a flurry of set-pieces and forward forays but not creating much of note going into half-time.

The Seasiders, who featured first-teamers Seanna Foster, David Hume and Gareth Beattie continued to put pressure on a robust opposition defence who sat compactly and soaked it in, with the hosts pushing and probing for a key equaliser.

Instead, the Duns made the game safe with a low shot into the bottom left corner which goalkeeper Mason Hume got a strong palm to but was unable to stop.

(Posted: Saturday, 2nd March 2024)

Ben Arthurs has signed a contract extension with Bangor FC until June 2026.

Arthurs has scored 21 goals in all competitions during the 2023/24 season.

Bangor FC Chairman Graham Bailie said: “Ben is a fantastic Bangor player who gives his all for the club. He is an outstanding example for all his teammates in training and with his work rate on the pitch.

“I’m really pleased to see that Ben has committed his future to Bangor until June 2026. It is a further statement from the club that we are trying to deliver success on the field and returning Bangor to the highest echelons of football in Northern Ireland.

“We have had a number of home matches this season with over 1,000 fans attending. We have a strong talented squad that is progressing in the championship and pushing to achieve on the field. We are a thriving community-based club. Ben wants to be a key part in all of this success at Bangor FC.”

Ben Arthurs joined Bangor in summer 2018 and has scored 127 goals for the Seasiders.

Ben Arthurs said: “Everyone knows how much I love this club. I am really proud of playing my part in the Bangor FC journey and helping the club get promoted to and progress in the NIFL Championship.

“Lee is building a team and a squad to compete in the Championship and beyond. I want to be a part of that and help the club push on. I believe we can achieve something special in the next few years and that is why I am extending my contact with the Seasiders.”

Ben concluded: "Bangor FC is a special club – the fans are amazing. It is a cliché, but they are our 12th man. Bangor fans are always with the team from the first minute until the match finishes There isn't a fanbase as passionate and supportive as ours in the league.”

(Posted: Friday, 1st March 2024)

Saturday, March 2 – Bangor Reserves vs Dundela Reserves, Championship/PIL Development League, Clandeboye Park, 11am

The senior side may have a rare free weekend, but there’s no stopping Bangor Reserves when they host their Dundela counterparts in a crunch battle in the Championship/PIL Development League.

The young Seasiders, who have picked up maximum points in each of the seven games since the pulsating 3-3 draw against the Duns back in December – the visitors were denied victory just by a last-gasp equaliser at the Billy Neill Centre – will begin a pivotal month of March with hopes of atoning for the heartaching nature of that stalemate and continuing their path to the title.

David Downes’ panel are seven points clear of Harland and Wolff Welders, who they face in three weeks’ time, but the second-placed outfit have played two games fewer, making every win of the utmost importance in a month where Portadown (third) and Queen’s University (fifth) also count among their opponents.

Three points against the Wilgar Park-based east Belfast men this Saturday would therefore be of the utmost importance and build on last weekend’s 7-0 defeat of Newington in style.


It’s March madness for Bangor Reserves in 2024 and Charley Craig is relishing some massive match-ups to come in the Championship/PIL Development League title race.

After 19 outings, David Downes’ side are invincible, with just four points dropped and zero defeats in league play this season, but the next four clashes mark their toughest stretch of the campaign as they bid to rubber-stamp a crowning glory this year.

With Portadown (third), Queen’s University (fifth) and Harland and Wolff Welders (second) chronologically following this weekend’s clash with fourth-placed Dundela, who the Yellows drew 3-3 with at the Billy Neill Centre in December, this run is likely to determine whether the team, who are seven points clear of the Welders with two more matches played, will rake in the title come the end of the campaign.

But versatile forward Craig is confident they can start the month on the front foot with a win over the Duns on Saturday morning

“Yeah, 100 per cent,” Craig said after scoring the seventh goal in the 7-0 triumph over Newington last time.

“We’ve four big massive games, the three teams below us here.

“Queen’s, Portadown, Duns and Welders, so hopefully, we pick up a win against the Duns and that’ll set us on the road for the title hopefully.”

Charley Craig

(Posted: Thursday, 29th February 2024)

Bangor manager Lee Feeney lavished praise upon Ben Cushnie after the forward bagged his first goal in five months during the comprehensive victory over Ballyclare Comrades on Friday night. The Glentoran loanee hadn’t hit the target since he broke the deadlock in a 2-1 win over Newington on September 23, 2023 but, having returned to fitness after an injury-disrupted few months, set the record straight with the second strike of four at Clandeboye Park.

The 22-year-old Hillsborough man, who accompanied Scott McArthur (2) and Ben Arthurs among the scoring stakes in the 4-0 success, netted only four minutes into the second half having been fired up by Feeney to produce the goods.

Branding Cushnie “one of the best players” in the Playr-Fit Championship, the Seasiders boss believes his return to match sharpness after ankle trouble is timely for a big run-in as the side kept its grip on second-place in the standings.

“I absolutely love Cush,” Feeney hailed. “And he knows I love him.

“I said to him on the way out for the second half, ‘You’re going to score today’, and I asked him to say it back to me that he was going to score today, and that’s exactly what he did. He’s been unlucky this season because of injuries, it’s been a bit stop-start for him, but he’s a quality player and it’s massive for us to have him back for the run-in, he’s going to be a big player for us if we want to keep getting points on the board.

“For me, he’s one of the best players in this league, one of the most talented players in this league and he showed that on Friday night. He’s been getting back to full fitness and I put him in from the start, and I couldn’t ask any more from him in terms of the impact he makes in the final third.

“We had the front three all scoring, and there was Adam Neale off the bench and what he gave, fresh legs into the game and a fresh energy that kept us going, and that’s the strength in depth and the quality that we have in that top area.

“That was great to see, and getting a player like Cush back fit is massive to keep us going.”

Lee Feeney

Any emphatic win over a fellow promotion-chaser is bound to stand out, no less than that it came on a night when league leaders Dundela – who, it was revealed, will be unable to take their place in the Sports Direct Premiership despite their position in the table – were also beaten 4-0 away to Annagh United.

But Feeney admits parts of the performance against Stephen Small’s Comrades have left him wanting more in the final two months of the season – not, however, without praising a tally of just one defeat in the last 14 league outings following Friday’s endeavours.

“We largely controlled the game but I didn’t feel we were at our best,” admitted the Bangor supremo. We didn’t really have the control of possession that I would’ve liked to see, and I said to the boys afterwards that I feel we can be a bit better.

“I think we’ve maybe had a wee bit of luck go our way recently, we’ve been getting results but I think the performances haven’t been as good as I’d have wanted, and there is a point when your luck runs out and that’s not something we want to be on the wrong end of.

“But if every team has a bad patch, and we’re having our bad patch and we’re winning 4-0 in ours against a team like Ballyclare who’s a really good side, how good can we be when we’re back in a good patch again?

“I do think there’ll come a day when we tank a team, I think we’re getting to that point, but I wouldn’t call that a tanking because a lot of parts of our performance weren’t 100 per cent. We gave the ball away cheaply under little pressure at times and they had opportunities in the game, we kept the clean sheet but we didn’t dominate the game in the way I’d have liked, and I feel there’s more that we can do.

“But if you’d said to me when we were in the Premier Intermediate that we’d have a run of one defeat in 14 in our first season in the Championship, I’d have laughed at you. A run like that is done through hard work, we’re in for a big run-in now and we’ve a really tough game against Ballinamallard in a couple of weeks, who lost at the weekend there (2-1 against Portadown) but have been in good form recently, so we’re expecting a tricky game away from home.

“We’ve been in great form probably since the last time we were up there, the 3-0 (win on September 9), it’s been a fantastic run and the players have emptied the tank for me. We’re at the top end of the table and we want to keep winning matches for as long as we can.”

Lee Feeney

(Posted: Sunday, 25th February 2024)

Charley Craig admits it took Bangor Reserves a while to find their rhythm despite recording an impressive 7-0 victory at Newington U21 on Saturday morning.

The Seasiders got off to a flyer just four minutes in after centre-back Jack McCosh rocketed a piledriver into the net, but it wasn’t until Kristian Trainor bagged a nerve-settling second just after the half-hour mark that the league leaders began to take command as the hosts enjoyed their fair share of presentable opportunities.

It was a three-goal advantage at the interval after the experienced David Hume rammed in a bullet header from Mitchel Watterson’s enticing delivery from the right, and Craig admits it was easier to control the game once the Yellows hit their ideal stride.

“Yeah, it took us a good while to play football. About half an hour in, we were 2-0 up and just weren’t playing football at all. It just wasn’t good enough all-round but once we sort of got a few goals and it was a lot better all over. We done well once we got the ball flowing.”

He adds on McCosh’s opener, a 25-yard spectacular that soared into the top right corner:

“It was definitely a brilliant goal; you know, to start the game off that a couple of minutes in just, it just sort of relaxes the nerves even when you know you’re coming in to hopefully win.

“It’s good to get a wee early goal, and hopefully we get the same in a big match next week against the Duns.” Playing from right wing-back against the Championship/PIL Development League’s basement side, 18-year-old Craig, who slotted in Bangor’s seventh on 83 minutes, also hailed the depth at manager David Downes’ disposal that certainly helped them on their way to success here.

It was half-time substitute Jay Boyd who slipped his team-mate in to apply the cherry on top of this ruthless triumph, while Sonny Redford netted a brace having been introduced to the fray alongside Boyd to lead the line. Ruairi Wright netted in the second half as well and three points were rubber-stamped ahead of a pivotal month of March that sees the side face every team from second to fifth-place. Craig feels it could be the squad effort that makes all the difference.

“Aye, it’s good to know you have loads of options. You know, we had two strikers (Callum Johnston and Jude Healy) in the first half and then two different strikers in the second half.

“So, it’s always good to have depth all over the pitch, you know, competition for places, it’s good. It makes you sort of step up your game, you know, having people behind you, knowing you have to play well to keep winning games.”

(Posted: Sunday, 25th February 2024)

Bangor Reserves were in seventh heaven at V36 Valley Leisure Centre when they put seven unanswered goals past Newington U21 and kept their title charge ticking over for another weekend.

Playing into the sun in the first half, Bangor required just four minutes to break the deadlock and did so through marauding centre-back Jack McCosh, who fired an unstoppable piledriver from 25 yards into the top right corner. The Seasiders doubled the lead just after the half-hour mark. A long ball down the left channel set Kristian Trainor away, and he placed his attempt across the Swans goalkeeper and into the opposite corner of the net.

Four minutes out from half-time, that advantage became three when David Hume's back-post header turned in a sublime Mitchel Watterson cross from wide-right, cementing the league leaders' authority on the affair in Newtownabbey.

Ruairi Wright added a fourth, sliding in five minutes after the restart after a delicate low supply from McCosh set him in, and it was five only a few minutes later when Sonny Redford turned in after the Newington stopper spilled Jay Boyd's curling effort. Substitute Redford added a second and Bangor's sixth just after the hour.

Charley Craig broke through and became the sixth scorer in a yellow shirt on 83 minutes after he was played through by Boyd, slotting low and in to apply the finishing touch to a ruthless display.

(Posted: Saturday, 24th February 2024)

Bangor maintained their grip on second-place in the Playr-Fit Championship with a fine 4-0 victory over Ballyclare Comrades on Friday night.

In a match-up that had seen 16 goals in the three previous meetings this term, goals were a guarantee going into this encounter – and that promise was fulfilled 37 minutes into a hotbed affair when the alert Scott McArthur side-footed into the Clandeboye Road end net from Ben Cushnie’s headed flick-on.

Cushnie himself added the Seasiders’ second four minutes after half-time. The forward, who has found his season disrupted by injury but shown some flashes of brilliance when it’s been called for, rammed in his first goal since finding the net against Newington on September 23 to double the lead.

It was 20 minutes later when McArthur boosted his personal tally with the third of the game – the Bangor native’s 10th finish of an impressive campaign – before goalscorer-in-chief Ben Arthurs wrapped up the points in stoppage-time when he turned in Tiarnan Mulvenna’s inswinging corner.

GARY'S MATCH GALLERY

BANGOR TEAM:
J.Taylor, H.Beverland(R.Nixon)(B.Walker), R.Neale, L.Francis, L.Harrison(S.Foster), T.Mulvenna, T.Mathieson, B.Arthurs, B.Cushnie(A.Neale), S.McArthur(M.Watterson), C.McDermott.
Subs: M.Orbinson, M.Halliday

(Posted: Friday, 23rd February 2024)

Saturday, February 24 – Newington U21 vs Bangor Reserves, Championship/PIL Development League, V36 Valley Leisure Centre, 11am

Bangor Reserves are in action in the Championship/PIL Development League on Saturday morning when they travel to V36 Valley Leisure Centre to face Newington U21.

The young Seasiders’ formidable start to the season has them on track for a title lift, but that thought will be firmly at the back of the players’ and coaches’ minds when they check in at the Newtownabbey venue this weekend.

After the previous Friday’s impressive 4-0 triumph over Ballymacash Rangers U21 at The Bluebell, which shot them to 50 points at the league summit and marked a sixth straight victory ahead of tackling the division’s bottom side, David Downes and his charges will be fired up to deliver once again but wary of the threats the north Belfast side – who they bounced back from behind to beat 4-1 at Clandeboye Park in mid-October – can pose.

With only eight matches to go in their season following this weekend’s encounter, the games are coming thick and fast and every point will be of value between now and the end. Expect to see a competitive account produced here.

(Posted: Thursday, 22nd February 2024)

Bangor are in action for the last time in February, with Ballyclare Comrades the visitors to Clandeboye Park in the Playr-Fit Championship.

The Seasiders got back to winning ways after finishes by Conor McDermott and Adam Neale either side of Tiarnan O’Connor’s leveller secured an important three points at the expense of 10-man Harland and Wolff Welders, with Lee Feeney’s men seeing their 11-game league unbeaten streak dating back to mid-November snapped with the 3-2 defeat at Dundela four days earlier.

Now, a new hot spell is on the radar with Ballyclare next up, who edged a five-goal thriller on the opening day of the season before Bangor hit back in turn in the County Antrim Shield – a 4-2 comeback triumph inspired by four Ben Arthurs finishes at Clandeboye Park in September – and then in the league thanks to Lewis Francis’ last-minute winner in a 3-2 success at Dixon Park in early December. The games have swung one way and the other this term and goals are expected to flow once more here.

With Friday’s hosts in second-place, they can tighten their grip on that spot and move to within two points of leaders Dundela with a victory, although with Ballyclare only seven points worse off and also in the promotion conversation in fifth, it is certainly finely poised.


Adam Neale believes the Bangor fans can make their presence felt again when the Seasiders entertain fellow promotion hopefuls Ballyclare Comrades on Friday night. 30-year-old striker Neale made an instant impact after being introduced as a substitute last weekend against Harland and Wolff Welders, latching onto Ben Arthurs’ headed flick-on and lobbing over goalkeeper Jack Mills for what proved to be the matchwinner on 68 minutes.

That 2-1 victory inspired a return to winning ways following the midweek defeat to Dundela four days prior, and the Ballynahinch man is in no mood to let up with a competitive race for promotion at the top end of the Playr-Fit Championship.

In that respect, he feels the supporters could hold the key to success against the Comrades.

“Yeah, at this stage of the season, it’s just about picking up every point that you can,” stated Neale, who buried his ninth goal of the season at Blanchflower Park.

“We’re getting closer to the split and every team’s wanting to get as many points as they can, so it’s up to us to keep the momentum going. We’re going in and we want to finish as high up the table as we can, it’s a tough run-in but we want to be in and around the promotion places, whether that’s first, second or third or whatever it may be.

“The games are coming thick and fast and every team around us is going to be competitive, but we were able to get back to winning ways at the weekend and we’ve been in good form and working hard for each other, so I’m looking forward to it. I think we’ve shown this season, we don’t fear any team in the league and there’s no team we feel we can’t beat, and we’ve beaten Ballyclare twice already.

“Our fans have been unbelievable this season, especially at home when they really do give us a wee bit of a lift, so we’re looking forward to playing in front of another big crowd.

“It’ll be a tough game but there’s a great spirit in the dressing room and we’ve had the fans come out in big numbers, and we’re confident we can go and get a result on Friday night.”

Adam Neale

(Posted: Thursday, 22nd February 2024)

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW >>

(Posted: Monday, 19th February 2024)

Chris Dougan has been appointed the new manager at Bangor Ladies FC.

Dougan previously worked as assistant manager at Bangor Ladies in 2023, when he helped guide the team to third place in NIWFA championship and to the final of the PwC Super Cup. Chris has also managed Bangor U17s boys academy team.

“I’m honoured to get the job at Bangor and I’m excited about the challenge ahead, especially as I know what a talented group of players we have.

“My aim is to further develop current and young players and build on what has already been established at Bangor. I want to help the team fulfil their potential by increasing professionalism in the squad and demanding the team is hard working and gives 100%.

“I’m also keen to adopt an exciting style of play that is not only entertaining to watch, but, most importantly, will get us results.”

Chris Dougan

Chris will be joined by current assistant coach Josh Eynon and new assistant coach Josh Wynne.

Bangor FC Head of Women’s Football Michelle Crawford said:

“I am absolutely delighted to have secured Chris as the new manager. As a previous member of the Bangor Ladies backroom staff, Chris understands the vision of the club and what is required to move the team forward.

“He already has a strong working relationship with players and non-playing staff at and has a clear understanding of what he wants on and off the pitch with his team.

“The desire and determination from Chris to take this team forward is evident and I believe he will be an exciting appointment for Bangor Ladies.”

“The Board and I would also like to thank Ethan for everything he did at Bangor Ladies and the success achieved last season. We wish him well in his future endeavours.”

Michelle Crawford

Chris replaces Ethan Boylan who recently stepped down as manager.

(Posted: Monday, 19th February 2024)

Bangor swept away the blues of Tuesday night’s 3-2 defeat to Dundela with a 2-1 triumph at their 10-man east Belfast neighbours Harland and Wolff Welders on Saturday afternoon to surge north of the 50-point marker in the Playr-Fit Championship and significantly boost hopes of a top-half placing for the split.

The visitors opened the scoring just 15 minutes into proceedings at Blanchflower Park, Conor McDermott bagging his second goal in a fortnight when he rifled through a crowd and past Welders stopper Jack Mills to break the deadlock.

The hosts, whose line-up featured recently departed Seasiders favourite Dylan O’Kane in the middle of the park, were only behind for six minutes, however, as hotshot Tiarnan O’Connor restored the level pegging before the major flashpoint on 35 minutes when Welders top scorer Matthew Ferguson was sent off following a high boot on Bangor defender Howard Beverland.

It took some time for the Yellows to make their numerical superiority count, though that all-important third goal of the game did arrive on 68 minutes thanks to substitute Adam Neale’s clever finish with his very first touch. Ben Arthurs provided the supply and a deft chip by the Ballynahinch marksman over Mills restored Bangor’s lead and gave Neale his ninth of the campaign that wrapped up the three points.

GARY'S MATCH GALLERY

Bangor team:
J.Taylor, C.Byers[D.Hume, 46’], L.Francis, H.Beverland, R. Neale, L.Harrison[T.Mathieson, 66’], T.Mulvenna, C.McDermott, M.Bradley[S.McArthur, 46’], B.Arthurs, B.Cushnie[A. Neale, 66’].
Subs: M.Orbinson[GK], M.Halliday, S.Foster.

NEXT MATCH:
Friday, 23rd February 2024 - BANGOR v BALLYCLARE COMRADES, Playr-Fit Championship, Clandeboye Park, 7:45pm.

(Posted: Saturday, 17th February 2024)

Bangor Reserves extended their formidable unbeaten run in the Championship/PIL Development League this season to 18 matches following a 4-0 victory over their Ballymacash Rangers counterparts on Friday night.

A double from Callum Johnston, as well as strikes by Kristian Trainor and Sam Millar, ensured that the Seasiders hit the 50-point marker with their 16th league win of this campaign at The Bluebell and further consolidated their position at the top of the table.

Striker Johnston, who scored a clinching fourth off the bench in the previous weekend’s 4-1 success at home to Lisburn Distillery Reserves, was named from the start for this encounter and he broke the deadlock just before the half-hour mark before adding a second eight minutes after the interval.

Trainor, wearing the captain’s armband in Lisburn, added a third goal on the hour mark before left-back Millar completed the scoring 11 minutes from time for what is David Downes’ side’s biggest win of 2024 to date.

The side are on the road again next Saturday when they take on Newington U21 at Valley Leisure Centre, with kick-off at 11am.

(Posted: Saturday, 17th February 2024)

Saturday, February 17 – Harland and Wolff Welders vs Bangor, Playr-Fit Championship, Blanchflower Park, 3pm

Having dusted themselves down after the disappointment of losing to Dundela on Tuesday night, Bangor are back in east Belfast this Saturday to take on Harland and Wolff Welders in the sixth-from-last Playr-Fit Championship outing of the pre-split.

The second visit to Blanchflower Park this term, the Seasiders have played out two draws to date with Paul Kee’s Welders; a keenly contested 0-0 stalemate away in September followed by a 1-1 level pegging on home soil, with Adam Neale turning in and cancelling out Matthew Ferguson’s third-minute opener in early November.

On this occasion, the race to consolidate a top-six finish is at the forefront of minds on both sides; Bangor are safe by eight points in the top half, while the Welders are five points back and just three clear of seventh-placed Annagh United. With that in mind, it promises to be a hard-fought battle on the Holywood Road and, should one side prevail, a coveted three points for whoever is clinical on the afternoon.

Yellows boss Lee Feeney admitted it wasn’t his side at their best at Wilgar Park in midweek, as a direct brand of football failed to bring a points reward back to Clandeboye Park despite two goals from 20-goal top scorer Ben Arthurs either side of half-time, but he felt in his pre-match outlook for this fixture that the Welders’ synthetic surface can allow his team to play their preferred style more effectively this time around.

There’s not much margin for error as the split nears, so another competitive fixture can be expected this weekend.

(Posted: Friday, 16th February 2024)

Friday, February 16 – Ballymacash Rangers U21 vs Bangor Reserves, Championship/PIL Development League, The Bluebell, 8pm

After Bangor’s senior side came under the spotlight and shone with the North Down Derby success over Ards last weekend, it is the Seasiders Reserves’ turn to come under the Friday night lights where they will hope to excel in their latest Championship/PIL Development League outing against Ballymacash Rangers U21.

David Downes’ men put their unbeaten record in the division at stake once more and enter this clash with The ‘Cash bidding to wrap up a 16th victory in their 18th league encounter.

A win would also take the Yellows up to 50 points having won each of their last five matches, most recently securing a 4-1 triumph over Lisburn Distillery U21 thanks to strikes by Mitchel Watterson, Charley Craig, Jay Boyd and Callum Johnston at Clandeboye Park. The result looked more comfortable than it was in practice, however, and Downes has been impressed of late with how his squad has found more gritty ways to take three points and keep their title charge ticking over.

This trip to Lisburn to face Ballymacash, who are second from bottom in the standings, is the reverse fixture of the match-up on the opening day. Craig, Kristian Trainor (two), Sam Millar, Ethan Scott and Sonny Redford marked the scoresheet in a 6-0 success back on September 2, and completing a back-to-back will be the target here.


Bangor Reserves assistant boss Ian Boal expects Ballymacash Rangers U21 to ask questions of his side and has warned the players not to let complacency seep in as the team aims to extend their formidable unbeaten streak.

The Seasiders have not lost in the Championship/PIL Development League all season and sit top of the table by seven points, but the focus is to continue on the winning trail rather than look back with The ‘Cash playing a tough host on Friday night.

After a 4-1 victory over Ballymacash’s near-neighbours Lisburn Distillery U21 last time out, Boal anticipates that the Lisburn club will put the pressure on from the outset, but he also has faith in his charges to show their quality and shine under the floodlights.

“Ballymacash is always a hard place to go. Even when they come here, they’re always a physical, strong, fast-paced team. But we don’t fear anybody in the league. We have the quality in the dressing room that can go out and beat any team in our league comfortably.

“Ballymacash, we won’t look past them. We don’t look past any team. We know we’ll be in for a fight and we’ll have to bring our game in order to beat them.”

Ian Boal

(Posted: Thursday, 15th February 2024)

(Posted: Thursday, 15th February 2024)

Manager Lee Feeney has taken responsibility for a direct style of play that failed to pay full dividends in Bangor’s 3-2 defeat to Dundela on Tuesday night – but he reaffirms his belief that his players can make a quick return to winning ways with just six pre-split fixtures left. The Seasiders were on the losing end of a Playr-Fit Championship match for the first time in 11 outings, since a 2-1 reversal at the hands of Newington in mid-November, and the Kilkeel chief admitted that, with hindsight, he would have asked his charges to keep the ball on the ground more rather than the vertical approach in practice.

Feeney also praised his team’s never-say-die spirit and refusing to wilt after Jordan Jenkins rubber-stamped his hat-trick for the Duns just five minutes into the second half. A tension-filled finale was lined up after Ben Arthurs bagged his second of the evening with 15 minutes to go, but it wasn’t to be and, ultimately, the manager felt too many of his men had off-nights in this crunch clash with the league leaders. Dundela were good value for their win, but from former Linfield and Rangers ace Feeney’s perspective, there were key learnings to take.

“I take the blame for it. Tactically, it was the wrong approach. I had told the boys to play direct, try and get behind, chase on second balls.

“It’s a tight pitch, a narrow pitch, they’re a pressing team and it’s hard to play your own style at times, and I maybe underestimated that we could’ve played a bit more football and kept it on the ground a bit more, passed it around a bit more. Looking back, I do think we could’ve played a bit more football and I think there was the space to do that, maybe a bit more than we realised at the start.

“I looked at it and there was going to be a lot of playing in tight spaces, and I do think we’re one of the best teams in the Championship at playing football and playing it short, so it was influenced a lot by the pitch and conditions to play a long-ball approach and I think we could have played a bit more on the ground and relied less on second balls and that sort of thing.

“It was disappointing, and it’s something I’ll personally learn from. In saying that, we know ourselves that wasn’t good enough and we’re better than that. I felt there were five or six players who just didn’t turn up on the night, who just struggled to make an impact on the game for large parts. “But even then, we got the second goal that brought us back into the game and still fought right to the end.

“It wasn’t to be, but the character’s there that we can go out and fight until the last ball, and there’s things I’ve learned today that will influence how we set up for this sort of game going forward. It was just a really bad day, and we had injuries as well, and it’s up to us now to go and put up a response against the Welders on Saturday.”

In singling out those who stood up and made themselves counted, Feeney praised three star performers for their contributions. Arthurs, who bulleted in a powerful header from Reece Neale’s corner to make it 1-1 on 25 minutes, coupled that with a second strike when he latched onto Ben Cushnie’s slick lay-off before rounding opposition ‘keeper Lewis Hunter to slot home and threaten the comeback, with Feeney hailing how his target man led the line. January arrivals Marty Bradley and Tiarnan Mulvenna – the latter was subbed off 10 minutes into the second half over an injury concern – were also bright lights the manager felt shone. Feeney said:

“Yeah, Big Ben, you have to give him credit, he went out and scored two goals… I think that’s the first time he’s scored two goals in the league all season. His all-round play was good, he led the line and it was two well-taken goals. I thought Marty Bradley was very positive as well, he took up a few good positions on the pitch and made a lot of things happen and he’s a great character, and Tiarnan Mulvenna had a good game as well before he had to go off injured.

“There were others who weren’t up to those levels, but I think they’re now playing with a point to prove and they’ll want to go out and deliver a response. The players have been a credit; if you’d given me third or fourth-place, where we are now, before the season started, I’d have bit your hand off. They work hard in training and set high standards for themselves and they have high expectations.

“It is disappointing that our unbeaten run is over and things don’t go as we wanted in terms of the performance, but going 11 games unbeaten in the Championship as a newly promoted team is outstanding and it shows the work the players are putting in. It’s a fresh start, our approach is very much we’re taking it one game at a time and we’re treating Saturday like that.

“We’ve got great characters, mentally strong characters who’ve done the club proud and who I’ve got a lot of confidence in. “We’ve got a wee bit of motivation to put things right now that we’re coming off the back of a defeat and we’ll try and start a new run. We’re in for a massive 11 games now, and the first thing we have to do is secure top six because that’s not even been confirmed yet. It’s a tight league and every point you can get counts.”

Looking ahead to the weekend battle at Blanchflower Park with Harland and Wolff Welders, one of only two teams in the Championship that Bangor have yet to beat this term – two draws (0-0 and 1-1) have been played out – Feeney expects a tough match-up against a side ranked fifth in the standings and likewise hoping to assure themselves of a top-half finish.

A win for Saturday’s hosts would put them within a couple of points of the Yellows, so it is a fixture that carries significance with Ballyclare, Institute and Portadown also still to come.

“The thing about 3G is you can always trust the pitch, you know what you’re going into,” he said on the topic of the Welders’ artificial surface, in contrast to their east Belfast neighbours Dundela’s grass.

“The thing with the Welders, they’ve got a lot of great players, good manager, and they’re sort of breathing down us I think. They’re fighting for top six, they’ve got threat in the forward areas and I’m fully expecting a real tough battle when we head up there. We’re sort of the same as them in that right now, we’re wanting to consolidate top six, and every team will be fired up and looking as many points as they can get.

“And listen, we’re going into Saturday’s game hurting; we’re a wounded animal and we know that other teams will be looking at that and wanting to put the pressure on us. But we’ve got the characters in there who’ll want to produce a response, we’ll work on our game plan in training and I’m confident with the personalities we have that can get back on track again.”

Lee Feeney

(Posted: Wednesday, 14th February 2024)

Bangor suffered an agonising first league defeat in 11 matches following a 3-2 midweek defeat to Dundela at Wilgar Park.

After an even start, the Duns were handed a golden opportunity to take the lead on 19 minutes when tricky frontman Jordan Jenkins was felled in the box by Lewis Francis, with referee Stewart Long showing no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Jenkins himself stepped up and sent James Taylor the wrong way to open the scoring for the hosts.

The Seasiders reacted quickly, however, as Ben Arthurs powered in Reece Neale's left-sided corner to level just six minutes later – his 125th competitive goal for the club since he first joined in 2018. Dundela provided a response in turn; on 31 minutes, Jenkins received from David McMaster on the left flank and cut inside before slotting low and in at Taylor's near post to restore their lead.

Hoping for a fast start to the second half, it didn't materialise as hoped when Jenkins completed a hat-trick just five minutes after the restart as he slotted beyond his former Glenavon team-mate Taylor for 3-1. A response arrived when Arthurs broke behind the line, sitting goalkeeper Lewis Hunter down before slotting into an open net past recovering Dundela defenders.

But despite an end-to-end finish, a decisive third was to elude Bangor in the end and a first loss in the league since the 2-1 reversal to Newington on November 11 was confirmed. The focus swiftly moves towards the away battle with Harland and Wolff Welders on Saturday.

BANGOR TEAM:
J.Taylor, C.Byers, L.Francis(D.Hume, 45'), H.Beverland, R.Neale, L.Harrison(A. Neale 90'), T.Mulvenna(Halliday, 55'), T.Mathieson(S.Foster, 70'), M.Bradley, S.McArthur(B.Cushnie, 55'),B.Arthurs.
Unused subs: M.Orbinson[GK], C.McDermott.
Booked: S.Foster, M.Bradley.
Referee: Stewart Long

NEXT MATCH:
Saturday, 17th February 2024 - H&W WELDERS v BANGOR, Championship, Blanchflower Park, 3:00PM

(Posted: Tuesday, 13th February 2024)

Tuesday, February 13 – Dundela vs Bangor, Playr-Fit Championship, Wilgar Park, 7.45pm

Bangor will become familiar with the scenery of east Belfast this week as they prepare for a double-header in the Playr-Fit Championship, starting with a midweek duel at Dundela.

The Duns, whose 5-1 rout of Dergview on Saturday shot them to the top of the division and, indeed, dislodged Bangor following the North Down Derby success for Lee Feeney’s side the previous night, play host in an outing rescheduled from the original date of December 9 due to a waterlogged pitch at Wilgar Park that afternoon.

Stephen Gourley’s men, who became the first team in the second-flight to hit 50 points this term with that triumph over the relegation-threatened Dergs, had only won one of their last six prior to that five-star win, with a brace by January new boy Ewan Kelly adding to finishes from Charlie Dornan, Jordan Jenkins and a Lee Rea penalty. Amid their rocky patch was a bit of Friday night delight for the Seasiders, who counted on a trio of late goals to take down their rivals at Clandeboye Park a little over three weeks ago, and Bangor can retake top spot with another win this Valentine’s Day eve.

The victory over Ards last time out saw the Seagulls make it 11 unbeaten in the league, a run that dates three months, and with a trip to Harland and Wolff Welders following on Saturday, the team is in no mood to let up their mean streak. -

Defender Conor McDermott is expecting a difficult encounter at Wilgar Park this midweek as Bangor take on league leaders Dundela in a rescheduled Tuesday night blockbuster (7:45pm).

It’s first versus third in the Playr-Fit Championship on February 13, and with the top four in the division split by only a couple of points, the Seasiders know a win at the ‘Hen Run’ sees them reclaim top spot ahead of another testing trip to east Belfast on Saturday, as Harland and Wolff Welders await at Blanchflower Park.

Coleraine loanee McDermott is taking a one-game-at-a-time approach, however, and is firmly focused on clinching another win that would see Lee Feeney’s men rise north of the 50-point marker in what feels like a pivotal week.

“Another really tough game. It’s very close at the top of the table and every team’s going to be scrapping away for points.

“We’ve got tricky games coming up and all the lads know we have to be ready for whatever the other teams are going to throw at us.

“We obviously played them (Dundela) a few weeks ago and it was important that we won and we keep finding ways to win, we’ve turned our focus right onto Tuesday night now and we’re looking at getting three points again.

“They’ve got good players, but we’re focused on picking up as many points as we can, it’s been a good run and hopefully, we can keep that going on Tuesday night with another win.”

(Posted: Monday, 12th February 2024)

Bangor Reserves kept up their formidable unbeaten run with an impressive 4-1 victory over Lisburn Distillery’s Under-21s at Clandeboye Park on Saturday morning, extending what is a monster streak without defeat in the Championship/PIL Development League to 17 games.

Goals by Mitchel Watterson, Charley Craig, Jay Boyd and Callum Johnston secured a win that looked more comfortable than it was, with the Whites setting up a nervy second half having looped a header home while young striker Jude Healy was also denied from the penalty spot following the interval.

Classy midfielder Watterson, who was named on the substitutes’ bench for the senior side the night before, set the Seasiders on the front foot with a well-placed drive low into the bottom left corner from 20 yards, while a trio of striker goals that followed – Johnston’s close-range clincher coming from the bench – will have heartened manager David Downes as his side rise to 47 points in the standings and keep their title charge motoring along.

Healy, who saw his penalty in the second period parried away after the Distillery goalkeeper dived low to his right before Craig blazed the rebound over the crossbar, was also a livewire and ensures that an attack that has averaged over three goals a game this term remains in rude health ahead of a tough Friday night battle against Ballymacash Rangers U21 in Lisburn, where the Yellows will bid to breach the 50-point marker.


Assistant managers Ian Boal and Ollie Haslam admitted that while Bangor Reserves weren’t on top form in their victory over Lisburn Distillery U21 on Saturday, the importance of three crucial points in the title hunt made it a highly satisfying day at the office.

The Seasiders ran out 4-1 winners but were made to work for their rewards, with the nerves eased after an at times rocky start by Mitchel Watterson’s low drive 34 minutes in when the midfielder drilled into the bottom left corner from the edge of the box. Jay Boyd extended the cushion just after the interval, but a quickfire reaction saw the arrears swiftly trimmed by the Whites before Charley Craig and substitute Callum Johnston rubber-stamped the win in the final half-hour. The results sees Bangor maintain a seven-point lead at the top of the table, extending their unbeaten streak to 17 matches this term – and 18 in total in the Championship/PIL Development League dating back to last campaign – and rise to 47 points from a possible 51.

Lately, the Yellows have had to show their steel and find fresh ways to win, but with five victories on the bounce, this triumphant vein is just the ticket for the coaching staff.

“That’s it, it’s just trying to keep the momentum going. The boys are working hard in training, just taking each game as it comes and putting it into the match.

“I think they (Distillery) took us by surprise. The games we’ve played against them previously, they weren’t as good as what they were today, and give them credit today, they came out and were fighting the whole game. They were unlucky with two of the goals and we were lucky, and sometimes you just need a little bit of luck in the game just to get the momentum going in the way you want.

“Mitch scoring that goal in the first half definitely settled a lot of nerves, definitely.”

Ian Boal

Haslam adds that the subs’ impact on the match late on – topped off by Johnston’s close-range finish nine minutes from time that proved the cherry on top – is a showcase of the strength in depth that will be of value in the season run-in. In the striker department, the side is well-stocked, and despite new arrival Jude Healy seeing his second-half penalty parried that would have added comfort to the scoreline, a flying start in yellow and blue for the son of David comes as a further boost as the side eye title success.

“Like Ian says, the first goal settled us down and then we kind of built from there, we came back into it. We kind of let them (Distillery) back into it slightly, but then we started to play free-flowing football like we know we can do and just, eventually, it will come.

“With Callum and Jack coming off the bench, we went to four at the back, and bringing Jack in, he kind of steadies the ship as well, and we have got options off the bench and there’s obviously the true depth we’ve got in the squad. We’ve got competition all over the pitch for places; starting XI, any of them boys can be in the starting XI.

“The team can change week-in, week-out and everyone’s strong enough to do a job in that position and do well. So, it’s testament to the boys putting the effort in, and the boys that come off the bench, we know what they can do, and they went out and done it. They done what was asked, big Jack steadied the ship at the back, Callum comes on and he gets his goal.

“Jude, he was unlucky with his penalty, you know, you score penalties and miss penalties, but he wanted the penalty, he was confident to come up and take it and I’m sure if he’s asked again, he’ll be happy to make sure he puts it right.”

Ollie Haslem
On Healy, Boal saluted his immediate influence and predatory instincts in the penalty area having bagged a debut brace against Ballyclare Comrades followed by the opener in last weekend’s 3-2 win over Limavady United.

“Yeah, we sort of lacked consistent forward goals, we were doing everything but the goals for the work they’re putting in, And Jude coming in, his first game at Ballyclare, scoring two within 35 minutes, you know, shows what he can bring to the team, his goals.

“That’ll help, especially with the run-in to the season, I think we’ve 11 games (left to play) now after today… it’s 11 cup Finals, you know, if we want to win this league.”

Ian Boal

(Posted: Sunday, 11th February 2024)

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW >>

(Posted: Sunday, 11th February 2024)

Bangor produced a grandstand finish as Lewis Francis and Michael Halliday struck injury time goals to send the Seasiders to the top of the table.

Lee Newell opened the scoreing for Ards in the 26th minute, but a sublime finish from Conor McDermott in the 41st minute made it 1-1 at the break.

Both sides went close in the second half before late strikes from Lewis Francis and Michael Halliday secured the three points for the Seasiders.

BANGOR TEAM:
J.Taylor, H.Beverland, R.Neale, L.Francis, C.Byers, T.Mulvenna, M.Bradley(B.Walker), C.McDermott(S.Foster), S.McArthur(M.Halliday), B.Arthurs, T.Mathieson(B.Cushnie).
Subs: M.Orbinson, M.Watterson, A.Neale

NEXT MATCH
Tuesday, 13th February - DUNDELA v BANGOR, Championship, Wilgar Park, 7:45pm

(Posted: Friday, 9th February 2024)

Saturday, February 10 – Bangor Reserves vs Lisburn Distillery U21, Championship/PIL Development League, Clandeboye Park, 11am kick-off

Bangor Reserves continue their push towards title glory in the Championship/PIL Development League on Saturday morning when they welcome Lisburn Distillery’s second string to Clandeboye Park. The Seasiders, who kept up their unbeaten streak with a slender 3-2 victory over Limavady United’s young guns last weekend, face the Whites – who are third from bottom – bidding for a 15th win in 17 outings that will keep them on pace to fulfilling their league ambitions.

Goals from Jude Healy, who has hit three goals in two matches since arriving in the January window, Jay Boyd and Gareth Beattie helped the hosts on their merry way, but it was a duel that could easily have saw more goals than had went in given both sides enjoyed numerous presentable opportunities that edged wide of the mark. A competitive Limavady outfit, who the Yellows did the double over having won by the same scoreline in the away encounter in September, should prove suitable preparation for facing this Saturday’s opponents from Ballyskeagh.

Distillery, who have 11 points from 16 matches played so far, will aim to spring a surprise and lift themselves further up the table at the expense of their league-leading hosts in the first meeting of the sides this term. In four meetings last season, Bangor emerged with 10 points from 12 – a 2-2 draw away followed by consecutive home wins (4-0 and 5-3) as well as a 2-0 success on their return to New Grosvenor – and will hope to continue that positive run with another three-point haul here.

(Posted: Friday, 9th February 2024)

MATCH DAY GUIDE
Friday, February 9 – Bangor vs Ards, Playr-Fit Championship, Clandeboye Park, 7.45pm

Bangor's unbeaten run across all competitions may have concluded at 11 following last weekend's Irish Cup exit at the hands of Portadown, but the third and final North Down Derby of the pre-split on Friday night can see them extend their streak of games without defeat in the Playr-Fit Championship.

Perhaps even more significantly, though, the Seasiders can rise provisionally to the top of the table and overtake Institute on goal difference with victory over Ards at Clandeboye Park. Having not been defeated in the Championship since a 2-1 loss to Newington at Inver Park on November 11, that invincible stretch endured until last Saturday when two Zach Barr strikes either side of Ben Arthurs' leveller saw Lee Feeney's panel eliminated from the Irish Cup by the Ports at the Sixth Round stage at Shamrock Park.

But attentions swiftly turn back to a hotly contested promotion race in the second-tier with the Yellows hopeful of securing a second success against the old enemy. With the most recent league result, a 1-1 draw with Dergview in Castlederg a fortnight ago, and the 2-2 stalemate with Ards on Boxing Day in which a two-goal lead was lost both fresh in the mind, Bangor will be keen to deliver a crucial killer blow this time around and rise to a division-leading 48 points in the table.

(Posted: Friday, 9th February 2024)

(Posted: Thursday, 8th February 2024)

(Posted: Wednesday, 7th February 2024)

NOW AVAILABLE - PORTADOWN v BANGOR MATCH VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS:
PORTADOWN MATCH VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

(Posted: Tuesday, 6th February 2024)

Bangor's January arrival Callum Byers has revealed he feels settled in and raring to go having played his first minutes in the yellow and blue shirt during the Reserves' victory over Limavady United U21 on Saturday. The centre-back, who linked up from fellow Playr-Fit Championship outfit Harland and Wolff Welders in the winter window, played the full 90 minutes in the 3-2 win on his debut appearance and says he had a "really good gut feeling" about making the move to Clandeboye Park.

26-year-old Byers adds that walking into a changing room full of players he has already made acquaintances with across a career that has seen him represent Linfield Swifts, Dungannon Swifts, Ards and the Welders made it a simple adaptation.

"Yeah, no, the club's been amazing to be fair," he says of his initial bedding-in process. "It all happened quite quickly, Lee got in touch, sort of spoke to the Welders and they were happy enough for me to move on. I had a really good gut feeling about coming in here, and I knew a few of the boys in the changing room from before from Linfield Swifts and my days at Ards, so it makes that a wee bit easier.

"The changing room's been fantastic, the coaching staff and Lee have all been super. Yeah, it was good to get a few minutes this morning and sort of just get back in the swing of things."

Byers feels his experience of both the Premiership and Championship throughout his career to date will come in handy as Bangor prepare for a crunch run-in. He has already made his first senior matchday squad having been an unused substitute in the 1-1 draw with Dergview in the last league outing, and while he was cup-tied for the Irish Cup defeat to Portadown – a clash in which three Under-20s in striker Charley Craig (18), midfielder Mitchel Watterson (18) and centre-back Mackenzie Gray (16) were among the subs – he is in line to make his first-team bow against Ards, who he previously captained, in the third North Down Derby of the season on February 9.

"Yeah, I'm only 26 but I feel I've been around the block for a while," he adds. I had time at Dungannon and Ards in the Premiership and then obviously at the Welders there for three years, so yeah, I've been about and I know what the Championship's about. So, I'm looking to add a wee bit of experience, a wee bit of knowhow around the changing room and help us push on."

An injury-hit first half of the campaign meant Byers arrived keen to build up his minutes again, and he was pleased to register a full match's worth of action for the Reserves and make an instant impact by helping them on the way to victory.

He said: "Yeah 100 per cent, I think it's good coming down and get 90 minutes because I sort of haven't had a consistent run of games this year.

"So, it's good getting 90 minutes under the belt and pick up the win because the Reserves side are pushing towards the top of the league and wanting to go on and strive for better things. So, yeah, it was good to get the result, too."

(Posted: Sunday, 4th February 2024)

Bangor Reserves emerged on top to preserve their unbeaten record in the league after a close-fought battle with Limavady United U21 at Clandeboye Park on Saturday morning. A game that, in truth, swung one way and the other in north Down, it was a game that probably should have produced more than the five goals it did as both sides missed some presentable opportunities, but the Seasiders took the reins and saw through a 3-2 success.

Goals in the first half from Jude Healy and Jay Boyd saw them enter a commanding position; the former prodded home on 29 minutes for his third goal in two games since his debut the previous week, while the latter showed fantastic strength to outmuscle his Roesiders opponent and blast home six minutes later.

The Lims came roaring back, though, as they struck twice either side of the interval to peg back to level terms, but Gareth Beattie was on hand with what proved the matchwinner on 57 minutes when he placed a back-post header in at the Clandeboye Road end net. The result lifts David Downes' Seasiders, who had seven regulars absent through injury or first-team squad inclusion in the seniors' Irish Cup match with Portadown, up to 44 points as they remain on top of the standings.

(Posted: Sunday, 4th February 2024)

Bangor fell to a narrow defeat to Portadown in the Irish Cup at Shamrock Park this afternoon. Zach Barr fired in the opener for Portadown after 5 minutes, but Ben Arthurs headed in a 19th minute corner kick to level it for the Seasiders.

The Seasiders twice saw the ball roll agonisingly across an empty goalmouth in the second half, but Zach Barr headed in the winner for Portadown in the 79th minute.

GARY'S MATCH GALLERY

BANGOR TEAM:
J.Taylor, R.Neale, H.Beverland, D.Hume, L.Francis, T.Mulvenna, L.Harrison, T.Mathieson (C.Craig), B.Walker (B.Cushnie), B.Arthurs, S.McArthur (A.Neale).
Subs: M.Orbinson, S.Foster, Gray, M.Watterson

NEXT MATCH:
Friday, 9th February - BANGOR v ARDS, Championship, Clandeboye Park, 7:45pm

(Posted: Saturday, 3rd February 2024)

Manager Lee Feeney declared himself satisfied with Bangor's transfer business throughout the January window, bringing in five new faces while accounting for seven departures from Clandeboye Park in all.

He adds that he hopes the players the club has signed can be cornerstones of their progress in the months and potentially years to come having opted to freshen up his panel for the Playr-Fit Championship run-in.

Arriving at the club were centre-backs Howard Beverland and Callum Byers, right-back Conor McDermott (on loan) and central midfielders Tiarnan Mulvenna and Marty Bradley. Mulvenna, who linked up from Glenavon, signed an 18-month professional deal, with Feeney having stated that the Belfast man had been on his radar for some time, while Coleraine Player of the Season for 2022/23 McDermott was naturally an arrival that turned heads around the Irish League landscape.

Departing, meanwhile, were long-serving goalkeeper Darren Gibbons, defenders Ryan Arthur, Ali Omar and Sean Brown – the latter two returning to Larne following loans – and midfielders Jack Henderson, Dylan O'Kane and Karl Devine.

"Yeah, I've been really happy with the business that's been done," said Bangor boss Feeney. "I think the new players that have come in have settled in quickly and made an impact, and that'll put us on the right track for the next part of the season.

"The players that have come in, they're great characters and they're players with experience and who have been successful at the top level of the game, who've won trophies and give us some things that we didn't really have before.

"There has been quite a bit of turnover in the window, we've seen players leave the club, but that's also a challenge because you need to have the right sort of characters coming in to replace them.

"We're not wanting to bring in any passengers, we're wanting to bring in players who have the desire to improve themselves and the people around them and who'll strengthen the team, and a lot of work's went in to bring in the players I believe can help strengthen the squad.

"Some good players have left us as well, the likes of Sean Brown for example, and I wish them all the best for the future. Those we've brought in, I'm looking forward to working with them and I believe they can set the standards for the months to come."

(Posted: Friday, 2nd February 2024)

Saturday, February 3 – Bangor Reserves vs Limavady United U21, Championship/PIL Development League, Clandeboye Park, 3pm kick-off

Table-topping Bangor Reserves put their unbeaten record on the line once more when they welcome their Limavady United counterparts to Clandeboye Park for this match-up at the start of February. The young Seasiders are chasing title glory and have not lost in their 15 league matches to date, enjoying a comfortable position at the top of the table with 41 points collected from a possible 45 in the Championship/PIL Development League.

Bangor were in Mossley last weekend and extended that proud run thanks to debutant Jude Healy's brace that sank Ballyclare Comrades U21, although there was a nervy finale when the hosts cut the deficit to 2-1 that ultimately was the final score.

It was a one-goal game when David Downes' charges visited Limavady the first time around, too; a 3-2 victory courtesy of a Charley Craig brace and a Jay Boyd strike later credited as an own goal back in the middle of September. It will again be a tough task here against the side sat sixth-placed in the standings ahead of kick-off, but the manager will expect his players to put in the hard work and rubber-stamp the win.

(Posted: Friday, 2nd February 2024)

Bangor start February's agenda with a trip to Shamrock Park in the Irish Cup, where Playr-Fit Championship rivals Portadown will entertain them in a straight shoot-out for a place in the quarter-finals of the esteemed competition.

Lee Feeney's men are intent on continuing their impressive vein of form, entering this clash with the Ports having not lost in any of their last 11 outings. He knows that if the Seasiders reach the last-eight of the oldest footballing cup competition on the island of Ireland, it will be a delightful dozen, although in a meeting of the third and fourth-placed sides in the second-tier, it is too close for comfort.

Last time out, Bangor wrapped up a solid point on their travels when they clinched a 1-1 draw at Dergview courtesy of Howard Beverland's 96th-minute equaliser which kept the unbeaten run alive – a streak that started against Saturday's opponents, with whom they played out a 2-2 draw at Clandeboye Park back on November 18 having held a 2-0 lead through Lewis Harrison and Ben Arthurs strikes in the first half.

Niall Currie's Portadown panel, which now includes midfielder Jack Henderson who departed the Seagulls at the beginning of the month, snatched a share of the spoils through Dougie Wilson and Eamon Fyfe finishes that day and will pose a stern challenge once again, but the visitors will back themselves to deliver and secure their spot in the quarters and know they must produce the goods to do so.

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Bangor manager Lee Feeney insists progression in the Irish Cup is a priority now that the Seasiders have returned to the senior ranks of the Irish League.

The Seasiders tackle Portadown in the Sixth Round of the competition this Saturday and have a quarter-final place in their sights, needing to fend off their Playr-Fit Championship rivals at their Shamrock Park home to secure that berth.

But the Seasiders supremo has full faith that his men in yellow and blue can deliver, backed up by their 11-game unbeaten run across all competitions and with his side having already defeated the Ports at this venue back in August.

"Absolutely, we've experience of playing Portadown and we should be looking to beat them and progress into the next round," Feeney declared. I said to the boys, we're a senior football club now, and we need to have the attitude towards the cups that senior football clubs have. We want to progress in the cups, that should be an ambition for us every season.

"Last season (against Crusaders), when we got to this stage, it was more of an occasion for us and a night to enjoy more than anything, but now, we've got a winnable tie and we want to go as far into the Irish Cup as we can. "Yes, the unbeaten run maybe helps us, and it was good to keep it alive with the last-minute goal there that gives us a bit of momentum, but we approach every game the same and we have to go into this game with that same winning mentality. It's a big opportunity for us and I'm really looking forward to it."

(Posted: Friday, 2nd February 2024)

Midfielder Karl Devine leaves the Seasiders after two & a half years.

The 28 year was part of last season’s double winning side and has played 21 times for the Seasiders this season.

We thank Karl for his time at the club and we wish him well for the future.

(Posted: Wednesday, 31st January 2024)

Bangor FC has agreed a new sponsorship deal with local Bangor firm Mango Ethical Direct Marketing.

Bangor FC Chairman Graham Bailie said: "We are delighted to secure the support of Mango, which is a high-profile company with well-established links in the city.

“Mango shares the ambitions of the football club as they are renowned for consistently striving to set high standards and delivering excellent results. We are thrilled to have them onboard as we continue our journey and I look forward to working with them and seeing how we can strengthen our relationship moving forward.”

Mango CEO Stuart Lally said: “As a family-owned business rooted in the local community, we’re incredibly proud to sponsor Bangor FC. This partnership aligns seamlessly with our work culture of being happy, friendly, diligent and delivering results.

“Just as the Bangor players strive for victory on the field, Mango is striving to set a high standard, delivering excellent results for our customers, whilst supporting our loyal team and driving a positive ethical culture.

“We wish the team continued success in their matches this season and we are looking forward to seeing the players in action over the coming weeks.”

Mango is as a full-service direct marketing agency that provides for clients based in UK, Ireland, Australia and America. Services are provided across many sectors including charities, home shopping, public sector and finance.

(Posted: Wednesday, 31st January 2024)

Congratulations to our U16s who defeated Strangford in the final of the SBYL First Division Cup at the weekend.

Finley, Jai and Jack were all on target for the Seasiders.

Well done to the coaches, players and parents!

(Posted: Tuesday, 30th January 2024)

The son of a Northern Ireland football legend had his shooting boots on having marked his debut for Bangor Reserves with a fabulous first-half double in Mossley.

It proved crucial come the end as, following a frantic finale with hosts Ballyclare Comrades having cut the deficit in half, the brace from Jude Healy was just what was needed to secure three points and preserve an unbeaten record.

Jude's father, NI men's record goalscorer and Linfield manager David Healy, was a renowned goalscorer in his peak who plied his trade at Premier League level in his playing days, and he showed similar instincts with two smart close-range finishes that capped off well-worked moves on 13 and 35 minutes. A fluid first half was to be followed by a more gruelling second, however, and David Downes' Seasiders were forced to grind out the points after that nervy ending in which the Comrades hit back with a placed 20-yard free-kick.

In the end, the players saw their lead through and picked up a 13th victory in 15 Championship/PIL Development League outings this season to maintain their grip on top spot and rise to 41 points.


Bangor Reserves striker Callum Johnston admits it was simply about getting the job done after the yellow and blue shirts were forced to work for the three points at a muddy Mossley Pavilion on Saturday morning. The sharp-shooter was right in the thick of a second half where the Seasiders were having to soldier hard for one another, fending off the late advances of Ballyclare Comrades U21 to clinch an important 2-1 win courtesy of a brace by Jude Healy inside the opening 35 minutes.

At a venue where Bangor's senior side have also played in the recent past, most notably a 4-0 Intermediate Cup victory in 2021 that was marked by a Michael Halliday hat-trick as well as when facing Ballynure Old Boys in the Ballymena Provincial League, David Downes' charges were sweating after a 20-yard free-kick was converted to haul the Comrades back within one late on, but Johnston was pleased with a battling victory.

"Today was just a case of getting the three points," reflected an honest Johnston.

"We made it a bit hard for ourselves in the second half, but we dug in, we defended as a unit and ground out the three points in the end, that's the most important thing. First half, the football we played was great. It wasn't the easiest pitch but we were stringing passes together, I think we expected a reaction from Ballyclare at the start of the half and they had bodies forward, but that's when you've got to work hard as a unit and we did well to get the win in the end."

Johnston was also left impressed by new recruit Healy, who marked his Reserves bow with a couple of goals that ultimately proved crucial on the way to a 13th victory in 15 league outings this term.

"He's good, isn't he?" was Johnston's first impression of the fresh face with a famous name. "Two goals, well-taken... he's a pure No.9, knows where to be and be in the right place at the right time.

"Obviously, that's his debut today, he's scored a couple of goals and he's hit the ground running, which can only be a good thing for the team as a whole. He'll provide extra competition for the likes of me at the top end of the pitch, it's good to have that competition and, yeah, looking forward to seeing what he can do."

(Posted: Tuesday, 30th January 2024)

Lee Feeney lavished 96th-minute saviour Howard Beverland with praise after the centre-back's heroics rescued a point for Bangor at Darragh Park on Saturday.

It looked like Dergview would send the Seasiders' unbeaten run crashing to an abrupt halt after Niall McGinley opened the scoring 11 minutes from time, but classy Beverland had other ideas when he intuitively backheeled Lewis Francis' cut-back beyond game Dergs stopper Ronan O'Gara and secured a share of the spoils on this four-hour-round trip.

The defender, originally from Ballymoney and who has represented high-ranking Coleraine and Crusaders sides in the Premiership, wheeled away with delight and celebrated his first goal for his new club with his team-mates in tow on just his fourth appearance since arriving from Ballyclare Comrades.

Feeney shared Beverland's joy and felt it was a just reward for a fine start to life in yellow and blue both on the pitch and behind the scenes in training, where he hailed his new recruit's early influence and leadership generated throughout years of distinguished service in the Irish League. Although having not worked with him before, the Bangor boss already feels like a man who shone under Oran Kearney and Stephen Baxter has been here far shorter than he'd have you believe.

"Howard Beverland, I'm absolutely delighted for him scoring his first goal for the club," Feeney explained.

"I know he's only been here for a short time, but you could tell that it really meant something to him the way he went away and celebrated, he was delighted and the lads around him were delighted for him. And it was really clever the way he did it as well, it was great improvisation from him when the ball was sent back across the face of goal, the corner was sent in towards the far post and then it was brought back across and he was able to connect with a backheel and put the ball in. He's deserved that for the way he's come in, he's been absolutely phenomenal.

"I didn't really know Howard before he came in, I hadn't worked with him and hadn't coached him before, so it was a bit of an adaptation at the start because we were obviously getting to know each other when he was first coming here to train. But he's settled in quickly, he's been setting an example in training and he's been showing his experience, he's been an absolute class act, he's been phenomenal. On the pitch, he's organising, he's leading and he's being a big presence, and I've been really pleased with the way he's playing. He's playing like he's been here for years, not like he's just joined the club and he's getting to know people. He's already adjusted to the system and he's playing like he's been here for a long time. He's a player who can have a really big impact here, he's made a quick start and hopefully that form continues."

Last season, the experience from the right side of a back-three provided by John Boyle proved pivotal behind Bangor winning the Premier Intermediate League and Steel and Sons Cup double, and that the 37-year-old Warrenpoint man featured so prominently under Feeney reflected the esteem he was held in.

After Boyle departed in the summer, a player less than half his age in Sean Brown arrived on loan from Larne and routinely impressed in that right centre-back berth before being recalled by the Inver Reds in January this year. Former Premiership and Irish Cup winner Beverland (33) has filled that void seamlessly.

"Yeah, we missed that, I'd said earlier in the season that that was something we'd been missing, that experience, and it definitely is something Howard has in his locker," Feeney added.

"I didn't think that was something we had enough of before the window, but we've brought in a few more experienced players who've played in the Premiership and who are proven performers at the top level. That's certainly the case with Howard, he's a player who's proved himself at the top level of the game, his attitude and his character, and he's come in here and is a player I believe can help us push forward."

(Posted: Tuesday, 30th January 2024)

A last-gasp goal by defender Howard Beverland rescued a point for Bangor at Darragh Park yesterday afternoon and extended their unbeaten run across all competitions to a formidable 11 matches.

The centre-back's intuitive backheel at the death came after Niall McGinley had put hosts Dergview in front 11 minutes from time, and the Co Tyrone men looked for all the world like they would secure the three points. Winter arrival Beverland had other ideas, though, connecting after defensive comrade Lewis Francis cut Tiarnan Mulvenna's floated corner back across the face of goal.

The 33-year-old finally broke impressive Dergs goalkeeper Shane O'Gara's resistance and ensured the Seasiders emulated the feats of their fellow top-four outfits in the Playr-Fit Championship, given Dundela, Portadown – who played each other – and Institute also picked up draws during Saturday's action. The 11th-placed home side steered by Emmet Friars are battling gamely against the drop, with former Crusaders ace Beverland on hand to secure a precious point at a difficult venue.

The outcome means Bangor remain in third-place before tackling the Ports in the Sixth Round of the Irish Cup next time out, with Lee Feeney's panel perched on 45 points and still within touching distance of the promotion play-off currently occupied by the Duns, who are a couple of points better off.

GARY'S MATCH GALLERY

BANGOR TEAM:
J.Taylor, H.Beverland, R.Neale, D.Hume(M.Halliday), L.Francis, T.Mulvenna, L.Harrison, C.McDermott, S.McArthur, B.Arthurs, T.Mathieson(A.Neale).
Subs: M.Orbinson, K.Devine, M.Bradley, C.Byers, B.Walker

NEXT MATCH:
Saturday, 3rd February - PORTADOWN v BANGOR, Irish Cup, Shamrock Park, 3:00pm

(Posted: Saturday, 27th January 2024)

LEE FEENEY: THERE'S NEVER ROOM FOR LIBERTIES AGAINST BATTLING DERGVIEW

Taking liberties is not an option for Bangor manager Lee Feeney, who declared that the defeat against Dergview on their last visit to Darragh Park is more than reason enough to guard against having their wrists burned for a sub-par effort.

The Seasiders' unbeaten run is put to the test once again in Castlederg, where they were defeated by the Dergs 2-1 back in September, and although the Bangor boss said that having the momentum of a run of positive results sets them in good stead, he is treating it like any other game and the Co Tyrone outfit with the respect they deserve as his charges bid for a ninth win in 10 outings.

"It's never that simple," Feeney warned regarding what is demanded to pick up three points. "It's never that simple in football as you know, we have to be on it from the first whistle here again.

"They beat us the last time we were up there and it's a tough pitch to play on, they'll do their best to try and make the game uncomfortable for us and it's up to us to respond to that.

"We didn't play great and we got punished for making mistakes and switching off (on the first visit), so the players will want to put that right and we know we need to show Dergview respect because they're good on their pitch especially.

"Yes, I suppose the unbeaten run helps in terms of the momentum, but we have that unbeaten run because we've been approaching games the right way and putting in the effort to win them, and I'm expecting a real tough game here and a tough battle."

(Posted: Friday, 26th January 2024)

DYLAN O’KANE DEPARTS CLANDEBOYE PARK

Bangor FC can confirm the departure of popular midfielder Dylan O'Kane this January window having made over 70 appearances for the Seasiders since first arriving on the scene.

O'Kane, who linked up from Ards in January 2022, made his impact felt almost immediately with a powered header against Newington the following month and would end his first full season at Clandeboye Park with the Steel and Sons Cup and Premier Intermediate League trophies.

A home town favourite, his close connections to Bangor underpinned the high regard he was held in among supporters. Making 34 appearances in 2022/23, O'Kane scored three and assisted three with a further 21 features both from the start and bench as Bangor took the leap into the Championship for 2023/24, registering two set-ups in victories over Ballinamallard United (3-0) and Knockbreda (4-1).

Gutted to be leaving Bangor FC," the man who also represented university sides the Tiffin Dragons and Wingate Bulldogs in the United States said. "Some great memories that will last a lifetime."

"Wish Dylan all the very best with his next move and a massive thanks for everything he has given us during his time at the club," added chairman Graham Bailie on 26-year-old O'Kane's contributions over the past 24 months.

Also well-regarded for his engagement with supporters and positive attitude, Dylan naturally departs with the best wishes of everyone at Bangor FC for his future endeavours.

(Posted: Friday, 26th January 2024)

SEASIDERS OFF ON TYRONE TREK TO FACE FAMILIAR OPPONENT

Bangor are in Playr-Fit Championship action once again on Saturday afternoon when they make the long trek west to Darragh Park to face Dergview.

The third meeting in five weeks between the sides, Bangor have been victorious in two prior meetings at Clandeboye Park in league and cup fronts during the winter season, but they return to a venue where they suffered defeat back in September. Nevertheless, 10 games without defeat has inspired belief among Lee Feeney's panel that they can make amends for that 2-1 reversal.

Perched in third-place after late finishes from Lewis Francis, Scott McArthur and Adam Neale capped off a decisive win over then-league leaders Dundela last Friday night, this visit to Castlederg is for facing a team at the other end of the standings. Emmet Friars' Dergs are in the relegation play-off spot and fighting for their lives, which means any notions of taking the foot off the pedal have been quashed in advance; Lewis Harrison struck the opener in the previous encounter in Co Tyrone only for Padraig Lynch and Niall McGinley finishes to turn the tide.

Now at the end of January and with some new bodies added, Feeney will have his players energised for battle and targeting a 14th win in their 25th league match as the Seasiders bid to continue their charge at the top of the table.


BALLYCLARE COMRADES U21 VS BANGOR RESERVES: MOSSLEY TRIP FOR YOUNG SEASIDERS

Bangor Reserves are in action in the Championship/PIL Development League this weekend and will bid to extend their impressive unbeaten run in the division when they travel to Mossley to face Ballyclare Comrades U21s.

The young Seasiders face a venue that their senior counterparts visited in the Ballymena League/McReynolds Cup double-winning season of 2018/19, with Bangor playing Ballynure Old Boys in April and recording a 4-2 victory through finishes from Ben Arthurs, Scott McArthur, Ethan Boylan and Ben Roy en route to their title coronation.

A triumph will be the name of the game for David Downes' charges here, too, returning to action after last week's duel with Institute at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium was postponed due to the frosty weather conditions. The Yellows enter with a seven-point lead over Harland and Wolff Welders U21 in second-place and 38 points from a possible 42, bidding to do the double over a Comrades outfit they bested 4-0 at home in the second week of December.

You wouldn't expect any relenting from the side as Ballyclare play host at an alternative venue to Dixon Park, with works ongoing to instal an artificial pitch there. Bangor will hope to capitalise at their home away from home.

(Posted: Friday, 26th January 2024)

Bangor FC is pleased to confirm the signing of centre-back Callum Byers, who joins the club from fellow Playr-Fit Championship side Harland and Wolff Welders this January.

The 26-year-old, who also plied his trade for Ards and Dungannon Swifts, joins on the back of a successful two-and-a-half-year stint with the Welders and was a key player under Paul Kee having helped the east Belfast club to escape the relegation mire and surge within touching distance of reaching the top half of the table for the split last term.

Spending time in the Premiership with Dungannon, whom he served from 2019 to 2021, and Ards, where he wore the captain's armband in the top-flight as a youngster under Colin Nixon and Warren Feeney, injury hampered Dundonald man Byers' first half of the 2023/24 campaign with the Welders but he arrives as a player with noted experience at the top level of the game and ready to make an impact.

In total, he made over 60 league appearances with the Blanchflower Park club and links up with Lee Feeney's panel as Bangor's fifth capture of the winter transfer window.

Welcome to Bangor Callum!

(Posted: Thursday, 25th January 2024)

Bangor manager Lee Feeney reserved special praise for fresh-faced duo Howard Beverland and Tiarnan Mulvenna following the 3-0 victory over Dundela at Clandeboye Park on Friday night.

Centre-back Beverland (33), who arrived from Ballyclare Comrades, was hailed by the Seasiders supremo for his assertiveness on the pitch against the Duns, while former Glenavon midfielder Mulvenna (26) was influential behind the side settling down following a tricky opening to proceedings in this top-of-the-table Playr-Fit Championship blockbuster.

Former Premiership and Irish Cup winner Beverland is an experienced campaigner at the top level of the game, while Mulvenna was developing a fan favourite status at Mourneview Park before sealing his switch to the seaside, with both having a two-from-two win rate in their first couple of starts as Feeney opted for an unchanged team from the XI that prevailed 3-1 away to Newington.

The Kilkeel chief saluted their qualities to the heavens and added that their contributions will be pivotal behind the Yellows' growth in the next few months.

"Howard Beverland, he's not a player that seems to get mentioned much from he joined, but I thought he was colossal... organising, orchestrating, he's a player who's been a proven performer at the top level of the game and he's already made a big impact here. He's a big presence to have in defence who offers that experience and that composure, and he was a big reason why we settled down after that first 20 minutes.

"But Tiarnan Mulvenna... for me, he was at the absolute heart of it. He got his foot on the ball, he played the game at his pace, and for me, him as well, he was huge after that tricky opening in terms of us settling down and playing our football. He was picking out passes, he was playing with energy, closing people down, and that's the qualities you want to see in a player when they're coming in. He was working hard and he's the type of personality I like to have in my team who can impose themselves on a game and lift those around him; I've been very impressed the way he's come in.

"I think that's all part of it, they're players who will help us get better and make us better, and I felt they really did that here with how they got us back into our rhythm, as it could have turned into a hoof match in the middle of the pitch. Maybe they're playing with a bit of a point to prove as well, a chip on their shoulder and they want to show that to their previous clubs that they've got that quality and can make a big impression.

"But yeah, both on and off the pitch, they've settled in really quickly, they're big characters and they're putting in performances early doors. They've been a joy to work with and hopefully they continue to perform."

(Posted: Sunday, 21st January 2024)

Lee Feeney expressed pride at the response his Bangor players produced following a rocky opening to the game as they ran away 3-0 winners over Dundela in a top-of-the-table Playr-Fit Championship showdown. Goals from Lewis Francis, Scott McArthur and Adam Neale – all inside the final 10 minutes of the contest at Clandeboye Park – ensured Bangor were lit up by the Friday night lights once again and atoned for the 2-1 home reversal they suffered at the hands of the Duns back in August.

The Seasiders temporarily moved up to second-place after the full-time whistle, but Institute's 2-0 victory over Ballyclare Comrades that shot the north west outfit to the top of the table saw Bangor move back down to third. However, Feeney was beaming to see an active unbeaten streak for his side extended to 10 matches across all competitions, with this being their eighth win in the last nine since the end of November.

Revealing that he stressed to his players both before the match and at half-time that they mustn't let a drop in standards seep into their play, the Kilkeel supremo admitted he was left a tad frustrated after a first 20 minutes he felt the Duns held the upper hand in, but momentum built up afterwards that culminated in a thrilling climax which left him with a smile on his face.

"I was disappointed with the first 20 minutes," admitted the Bangor boss.

"I'd said to the players in the changing room that when we were going out there, we needed to stay composed, we needed to be calm, and I didn't feel we were doing that in the first 20 minutes, I thought they had the better of us at that point in the game. But we were better afterwards after we settled... I felt we dominated, we were building up our rhythm again, we were creating chances and getting the ball up the other way by the time we got to half-time.

"We were playing well when we got in but I still reminded them of that (the start to the game), and I told them to keep their levels up, and I'm hard on them at times because I don't want our standards to drop. I don't want lower standards to come into our play, and I said to Ben (Arthurs), 'you'd been caught offside three times when you didn't need to be offside'. I wanted them to be more ruthless.

"Ben then goes and he's ruled offside and he puts the ball in the net... I looked back at it on the video and he wasn't offside, and that frustrated me; it felt like everyone in the ground could see he was on but the lino's the one who doesn't and he raises his flag, and I was annoyed about that looking back. From there, you know, these are big decisions, and the game could potentially end 0-0 or we lose 1-0 and it has a big impact.

But credit to the players, they kept their composure, they continued to stay in control and then at the end of the game, they get the three goals that was enough to win the game, and I felt we'd maybe deserved that for the way we were building up to it."

Feeney also praised substitutes Adam Neale and Marty Bradley for their impact in the latter stages of the contest, saluting their work ethic and determination to move play forward after they were introduced in the second half. 30-year-old Neale, who entered the fray 21 minutes from time, was hailed by his manager for the effort he put in and lift he provided for his team-mates in his off-the-ball work, and the Ballynahinch sharp-shooter had debutant Bradley to thank as the former Ballymacash Rangers midfielder squared to provide Neale with the clinching third goal in added-time – his eighth of the season in all competitions.

"Adam brought real energy when he came on," Feeney continued. "He was hungry, he was chasing lost causes, he was turning bad balls into good balls that worked in our favour. When you see your frontman working like that, putting pressure on the opposition, it gives the whole team a lift.

"The timing he came on, it was 0-0 at the time and it probably was a turning point when he comes on because he's putting the hard work in, and I was pleased to see him mark it with a goal because he set us on our way with how he was impacting.

"And Marty Bradley as well, he got the assist for Adam and it was good to see him the ground running. He wasn't on the pitch long, but he gave us a bit of energy at that stage and it was a really good bit of play from him to win the ball and then set Adam up; the substitutes had a good impact and they're fired up and wanting to deliver.

"The whole game, we'd been building up the momentum up to the last 10 minutes when we got the goals, and we go and get two goals in two minutes that was the springboard and keeps us going strong."

(Posted: Sunday, 21st January 2024)

The Seasiders made in 9 games unbeaten and closed the gap on the leaders to 2 points with an impressive 3-0 win over Dundela at Clandeboye Park this evening.

Lewis Francis broke the deadlock in the 80th minute when he hooked in a loose ball from a corner kick on the right. Bangor's second came just two minutes later when Ben Arthurs crashed the ball against the Dundela crossbar and from the rebound Scott McArthur looped a header over Hunter and into the net.

Substitute Marty Bradley was only on the pitch a matter of minutes when he burst through on the left to set up Adam Neale who slotted in an injury time third.

BANGOR TEAM:
J.Taylor, H.Beverland, R.Neale, L.Francis, D.Hume, T.Mulvenna, C.McDermott (M.Bradley), L.Harrison, B.Arthurs, T.Mathieson(A.Neale). S.McArthur.
Subs: M.Orbinson, K.Devine, B.Walker, M.Halliday, D.O'Kane

NEXT MATCH:
Saturday, 27th January 2024 - DERGVIEW v BANGOR, Championship, Darragh Park, 3:00pm

(Posted: Friday, 19th January 2024)

Bangor are in action this Friday night in a top-of-the-table blockbuster when they entertain Playr-Fit Championship leaders Dundela.

The third-placed Seasiders can close the gap to the pacesetters to just two points with success here – although having played a game more – and set the record straight after Stephen Gourley's men were victorious 2-1 at Clandeboye Park in the first meeting of the sides back in August.

That windy night saw Lee Rea hit a double for the Duns in the first half, with Ben Arthurs halving the arrears midway through the second period but not able to spark enough of a revival for the hosts to claim a share of the spoils. This is the second clash of the sides so far this term, with Bangor travelling to Wilgar Park on Tuesday, February 13 in a rescheduled showdown for a battle that will also have much riding on it.

Focusing on this duel, however, Lee Feeney's charges will look to extend their unbeaten run to 10 matches, having not previously tasted defeat since the middle of November, and rise to 44 points to draw level with Institute in the promotion play-off berth. Anticipated full home debuts for new arrivals Howard Beverland, Tiarnan Mulvenna, Conor McDermott and Marty Bradley also whet the appetite as the Seagulls eye an important three points in this encounter.

Match sponsor: Baillies Menswear

Ball sponsor: Anchor AirBnB


Bangor manager Lee Feeney believes the form and momentum his Seasiders have built up over the last two months is the perfect backdrop to their top-of-the-table tussle with Dundela in the Playr-Fit Championship on Friday night.

The Duns visit Clandeboye Park bidding to expand on the 46 points they have picked up so far, and a second away victory over the North Down men would lift them eight points clear of the Yellows with a game fewer played, but Feeney believes that for the east Belfast side's quality and experience, this clash is a chance for his charges to show they've learned a few lessons themselves.

"It's finely poised, we've looked at them closely and they've got a lot of quality all over the pitch and they're well-coached," the Bangor supremo said.

"They've got experienced players, they've got quality players and we're fully expecting them to take the game to us on the night.

"The first game, they were better than us and they deservedly picked up three points, but we've got momentum and it's good to go into a game like this with that good run of form.

"We're hoping to put things right that we didn't get right from the first game and get three more points to move up the table."

(Posted: Friday, 19th January 2024)

Ryan Arthur has completed a transfer to Ards.

The 28 year old leaves the Seasiders having picked up winners medals in the Ballymena League, Premier Intermediate League and Steel & Sons Cup.

We thank Ryan for his contribution to our success and wish him well.

(Posted: Thursday, 18th January 2024)

(Posted: Wednesday, 17th January 2024)

Bangor have confirmed their fourth arrival of the January transfer window in the form of midfielder Marty Bradley.

The 28-year-old, who plied his trade for Ballymacash Rangers in the first half of the 2023/24 season, links up with Championship experience from a stint with Portadown before Covid. He also represented Ballymena League outfit Belfast Celtic – although he didn't feature in either of the cup clashes against Bangor last campaign – as well as Amateur League big-hitters Immaculata, though he arrives on the back of 15 appearances under Lee Forsythe at The 'Cash.

Bradley played the full match in the Lisburn club's historic County Antrim Shield semi-final clash with Larne before Christmas and rises up a division into the Championship this winter with the Seasiders.

Playing under Matthew Tipton's tutelage with the Ports, where he counted the likes of Northern Ireland international striker Lee Bonis and MLS SuperDraft selection Ryan Carmichael among his team-mates, Bradley is a player with pedigree and experience across a number of levels of the pyramid and now is at Lee Feeney's disposal at Clandeboye Park.

Welcome to Bangor, Marty!

(Posted: Wednesday, 17th January 2024)

Seasiders manager Lee Feeney has thanked Bangor fans for their incredible support and loyalty this season.

Lee said: “The support from the Bangor fans this season has been superb, yet again. We have had a season with some ups and downs, but the constant has been the positive atmosphere created by our supporters at the matches.

“They never stop encouraging the players and getting behind the team, even when the going gets tough. With that in mind, and on behalf of the players and management team, I want to thank our fans for their outstanding support.”

Bangor play Dundela on Friday night at Clandeboye Park in a Player Fit Championship match, kick-off at 19:45.

Lee continued: “Our supporters are travelling in numbers across Northern Ireland to watch the team and, at times, we are outnumbering the home fans. Our crowds at home are growing week by week and we all really appreciate the support.

“I noticed that our group of young fans were at the Newington match, making lots of noise and creating a real buzz. They are doing a great job and I know they will continue to push the lads on throughout the remainder of the season.

“I’m positive that we will get another great turn out from Bangor fans on Friday night, under the lights versus Dundela. The support from our fans does make more of a difference than you’d think and we really do feed off their backing.”

(Posted: Wednesday, 17th January 2024)

We send our thoughts and prayers to Darren Gibbons following the passing of his mother, Helen.

Helen was a familiar face at Clandeboye Park, both supporting Darren and the Seasiders as well as having been part of our hospitality team.

Deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Helen at this sad time.

(Posted: Monday, 15th January 2024)

Bangor manager Lee Feeney had absolutely no doubts or concerns over handing three winter arrivals their full debuts in the Playr-Fit Championship clash with Newington at Inver Park – and how he reaped the rewards. One of them, right wing-back Conor McDermott, registered an assist within 180 seconds of kick-off when he teed up Scott McArthur to break the deadlock, while central midfielder Tiarnan Mulvenna – who featured alongside returning captain Lewis Harrison against his former club – and centre-back Howard Beverland both made positive impressions on their first starts for the Seasiders.

The boss declared that starting them was a sign of how his team are "never standing still" and keen to push on in the second-tier, and when a 3-1 victory courtesy of a McArthur brace and a Ben Arthurs header was signed and sealed to lift the Yellows above the 40-point marker, there was no wiping the smile off the Kilkeel man's face when he gave his post-match reaction to a ninth consecutive game undefeated. Citing their experience and quality at Premiership level, Feeney hailed the trio's decisive contributions and expressed his excitement about the role they could play with 15 league matches remaining.

"Starting each of the three new boys from the start, I think you saw there that we're ambitious, we're never standing still," explained the Bangor supremo.

"The three players coming in, all of them have Premiership experience and have proven their quality at the top level of the game. Howard won the Irish Cup and the league title with Crusaders, Conor was Coleraine's Player of the Season last year, and Tiarnan, he was a player we'd been tracking for months and he was a player the Glenavon fans spoke very highly of, he was very popular with them.

"So, I think with those three players, they add experience but they also add quality, and that's what we feel we could add to this team that can make it even better. We always want to push on. And you mentioned Conor... on Saturday, I think the thing that stood out to me most about his performance was that he was enjoying himself.

"And that's the main thing you want to see from a player when they're in their early days with a new club, that they are enjoying themselves on the pitch, and going in and making that instant impact with the assist after three minutes. But all three players I thought were super, and that can push our entire squad because we don't want to settle for what we have. We want to keep getting better and I believe the new players showed that on Saturday."

Feeney went on to salute his two goalscorers, firmly believing that, although they have 24 finishes between them across all competitions, there is still plenty of untapped potential within both players. McArthur, who completed a double on 58 minutes, sandwiched Arthurs' 17th strike of the season, and the 45-year-old Seagulls chief singled both out for praise both in the way they conduct themselves on and off the pitch.

"I think the key thing with Scotty is, we're playing to his strengths," Feeney raved.

"We're playing to what he's good at and he's been fantastic in that role. I can remember chatting with Scotty in the summer and we re-signed him for this season, and he was concerned about playing the No.10 role, whether it was maximising his potential because he'd wanted a run out on the wing. But I always believed in him that he could grow in that attacking midfield position, and I said to Scotty to believe in himself that he could do that, to have the confidence to run with the ball and drive at people, score goals and set up chances for others, and he's been brilliant particularly in front of goal during the past month or so.

"He's a player that can get the play moving and have a big impact and get us up the pitch when he has that drive to run with the ball, he's getting into good positions, and honestly, I believe there's still so much potential with him. What's untapped with him... honestly, it's scary. I think he's maybe only playing to 70 per cent of his potential, and he'll keep driving himself to be better and we'll keep driving him to be better. But he works so hard in training, he always gives it his best and he deserves every bit of success that comes his way.

"And Ben as well. I went to shake everyone's hands after the game, and I went over to Ben and he told me, 'I played crap today'.

"And he did to be fair, he had a poor game, and he'll be the first to tell you when he's had a poor game. But he has a poor game and he still scores one and sets up another... what does that tell you about him? He's another one with that mentality, who'll keep pushing himself to be better, and what he's been doing for the team has been a credit to himself. He's the same, there's a lot still to come from him, too."

(Posted: Sunday, 14th January 2024)

MORE DERBY DELIGHT FOR YOUNG SEASIDERS

Bangor Reserves started 2024 with a bang when they kept hold of the north Down bragging rights with victory over their Ards counterparts on Saturday morning.

The Seasiders counted on a goal in each half from Ruairi Wright and Mackenzie Gray to follow up on the win at Londonderry Park in November and retain their pacesetter status at the summit of the Championship/PIL Development League. Three points here lifts David Downes' charges up to 38 in total, 10 clear of Harland and Wolff Welders U21 in second-place.

Wright broke the deadlock 22 minutes in when he received the ball around 20 yards from goal, swivelling into his left foot and driving a low effort into the bottom right; the ball trickling past the Ards goalkeeper, who did get fingertips to the winger's attempt.

Centre-back Gray, who has overcame the injury issues that limited his involvement in the first half of the season, was on hand to start the new year afresh with his first goal of the campaign that ultimately rubber-stamped the result. He towered over his Ards opponent at the back stick and powered home a header from Charley Craig's 66th-minute free-kick delivery, with the side going on to record a clean sheet on their way to a further boost in their title charge.


Bangor Reserves goalscorer Ruairi Wright paid tribute to the colossal impact of defender Mackenzie Gray's return to the fold as the Seasiders capped off a second North Down Derby success of the season. The centre-back powered home a header in the second half to add to winger Wright's deadlock-breaker in the 22nd minute against Ards Reserves, keeping a clean sheet thereafter and sealing a 2-0 victory at Clandeboye Park in the side's first fixture of 2024 that ensures their title charge continues to tick over as planned.

"Well obviously, first goal's important; especially that early in the game, it sort of settled the lads," Wright explained.

"You know, we were far from our best, but it's a clean sheet and the three points and Mackenzie just sealed the game, so we can't complain with that. It's great to have him (Gray) back, the back-three whenever he's in there, just commanding it, organising it. We really missed him when he wasn't here but, you know, he's back and he's straight back to his best, so it's super."

Wright, who was named to his first senior matchday squad in Bangor's 2-2 home draw with Portadown in November, also pointed to the solid foundation the Seasiders are built upon with greater defensive solidity a target that was laid out before the start of the season. There is a variety of goalscorers within the fold, and there is confidence from inside the camp that this is serving them well in their continued push for Championship/PIL Development League glory.

"Obviously, you know, we're confident in ourselves when we're playing, we can get the goals," Wright added.

It's now, we've started focusing on the defensive side of things. If we can keep them out for as long as we can, even all game, then the goals will come and, whether it's from Charley (Craig), young Mitch (Watterson) or myself, and Jay (Boyd) and those around as well, the goals will come."

Discussing his own finish, Wright dissects: "Well, it came out to me, a couple (of Ards defenders) were in front of me, I just thought if I can shift it onto my left and just hit it anywhere towards the net, there's always that chance of it going in.

"It wasn't the best goal I've scored, but listen, they all count."

(Posted: Sunday, 14th January 2024)

GREAT SCOTT!

A goal in each half from Scott McArthur and a bullet header from Ben Arthurs secured a 3-1 win for Bangor over Newington at Inver Park this afternoon.

The Seasiders took the lead after just 3 minutes when new signing Conor McDermott raced down the right to pick out Scott McArthur for an easy chance to slot home the opener. Ben Arthurs power in a 23rd minute Reece Neale corner kick to give Bangor a two goal lead at the break.

Scott McArthur struck home a spectacular volley in the 58th minute before Francis Rice grabbed a 78th minute consolation goal for Newington.

GARY'S MATCH GALLERY

BANGOR TEAM:
J.Taylor, H.Beverland, R.Neale, D.Hume, L.Francis, C.McDermott(D.O'Kane), T.Mulvenna, L.Harrison(K.Devine), S.McArthur(B.Walker), B.Arthurs, T.Mathieson(J.Hughes).
Subs: M.Orbinson, R.Arthur

NEXT MATCH:
Friday, 19th January 2024 - BANGOR v DUNDELA, Championship, Clandeboye Park, 7:45pm

(Posted: Saturday, 13th January 2024)

After a run of five consecutive matches at Clandeboye Park during December and early January, Bangor are back on their travels this weekend when they head to face Newington at Inver Park.

The Seasiders make the trip in high spirits having progressed into the Sixth Round of the Irish Cup last week, with Jordan Hughes' double off the bench making all the difference as Lee Feeney's charges prevailed 3-1 over fellow Playr-Fit Championship outfit Dergview. That result, which set up a date with Portadown at Shamrock Park in the first week of February, extended Bangor's unbeaten run in all competitions to eight matches.

Indeed, that active streak started on the back of their last visit to Larne to take on The 'Ton who, courtesy of Neil Cummings and Zach Barr strikes in the second half, emerged with a 2-1 victory on November 11. Ben Arthurs bagged a late deficit-halver to set up a grandstand finish on that day, but it was not to spark a revival.

It also means both sides have a victory apiece in the two showdowns so far, with Tom Mathieson netting a late winner in the first meeting of the sides at Clandeboye in September. With 26-year-old pair Tiarnan Mulvenna and Conor McDermott also potentially in line for debuts, there is an added layer of intrigue as the Yellows bid to keep their impressive form ticking over.


Jordan Hughes has warned that Bangor can't afford to live off past results if the team intends to keep up an unbeaten run that has stretched for the last two months.

The Seasiders are bound for Inver Park this weekend where the last team to beat them, Newington, will be hungry to repeat the feat and halt the north Down club's impressive streak of eight games without defeat.

Goals from Zach Barr – who has since departed Paul Hamilton's panel for Portadown – and Neil Cummings proved decisive early in the second half for the Swans, with Ben Arthurs netting late to set up a nervy finale that ultimately didn't yield any points in a 2-1 defeat for Lee Feeney's panel. Bangor have hit their stride since, though, having risen to third-place in the Playr-Fit Championship standings and reaching the Irish Cup Sixth Round courtesy of last Saturday's 3-1 victory over Dergview at Clandeboye Park.

32-year-old Hughes was the hero against the Dergs, sprung from the bench and scoring twice to ensure Bangor's safe passage, and while happy to hit the goal trail once more, he swiftly guarded against complacency as the side targets a third win in succession.

"That's it, you've just got to keep the momentum going," says Hughes on this weekend's journey to Larne. Look, you could take things from previous games and use that as whatever you want but, you know, every game is different. We're playing three weeks apart against Dergview (a trip to Darragh Park beckons on January 27), they'll be two different games, so we don't want to rely too much on previous results but, as we've talked about, it's just that momentum.

"We're doing well, just keep ticking over, keep tallying the wins up and just see where we go."


Saturday, January 13 – Bangor vs Ards, Championship/PIL Development League, Clandeboye Park, 11am kick-off

Bangor Reserves kick off 2024 with a derby bonanza at Clandeboye Park, where a North Down Derby against Ards is on the agenda on Saturday morning.

David Downes' side, who ended last year with a 1-0 victory over Knockbreda that added further security to their place at the top of the Championship/PIL Development League table, are in action for the first time in three weeks as the players look to build on a start that has seen them pick up 35 points from the 39 on offer.

The Seasiders, who are unbeaten, clinched the bragging rights first time around when first-half goals from Ryan Arthur and Sonny Redford secured a 2-0 success at Londonderry Park in November. Derbies are one-off games, however, and Downes will encourage his charges to be firing on all cylinders when they go into battle this weekend.

With the league run-in being the point of focus, every point is expected to be crucial as the chasing pack aim to make up ground and pounce on any signs of weakness, but the players will be confident of delivering on a big stage here.

(Posted: Friday, 12th January 2024)

Our postponed Championship fixture with Dundela at Wilgar Park has been scheduled for Tuesday 13th February, 7.45pm.

(Posted: Wednesday, 10th January 2024)

The Seasiders have been drawn away to Portadown in the 6th Round of the Clearer Water Irish Cup. The tie will be played on Saturday, 3rd February at Shamrock Park.

(Posted: Saturday, 6th January 2024)

Bangor wrapped up a second successive Sixth Round date in the Irish Cup after dealing with the challenge posed by Dergview at Clandeboye Park in the club's first outing of the new year.

Sealing a clash with another Playr-Fit Championship rival in Portadown following the 3-1 victory over the Dergs, a day which also saw a debut from the bench for January arrival Howard Beverland, Lee Feeney will be optimistic of rekindling old memories in the illustrious competition with a realistic shot at a quarter-final berth when the side visits Shamrock Park at the start of February.

The Seasiders were made to work for this win, as a Niall McGinley penalty that he firstly won and then converted himself on 35 minutes made sure Emmet Friars' panel entered the break level following Ben Arthurs' crisp curling opener within the opening quarter-hour of the contest.

It was the introduction of Jordan Hughes that turned the tie on his head. He hadn't scored all season prior to this encounter but his impact was instant after he replaced Adam Neale midway through the second half, scoring with his very first touch of the ball after heading in Reece Neale's enticing delivery.

The 32-year-old marksman wasn't done there, though, as nine minutes from time, he latched onto Arthurs' pull-back and, via a deflection, converted beyond Dergview stopper Shane O'Gara to secure Bangor's passage to the last-16.

GARY'S MATCH GALLERY

BANGOR TEAM:
J.Taylor, R.Neale, B.Walker(H.Beverland), D.Hume, L.Francis, D.O'Kane(G.Beattie), K.Devine, S.McArthur, A.Neale(J.Hughes), B.Arthurs, T.Mathieson(R.Arthur).
Subs: M.Orbinson, M.Halliday, S.Millar


I'M SO PROUD TO MAKE MARK IN WINNING DISPLAY FOR BANGOR: JORDAN HUGHES

Jordan Hughes took a selfless approach to post-match interview duties and revealed he took most pride in contributing to Bangor's successful progression into the Sixth Round of the Irish Cup at the weekend. The striker, whose first two goals of the season on Saturday helped restore the Seasiders' advantage against Dergview and ultimately inspired the side to a solid 3-1 victory at Clandeboye Park, was sprung from the bench and repaid Lee Feeney's faith in the best possible way.

When introduced for Adam Neale on 67 minutes, the score was level at one apiece with Ben Arthurs' inch-perfect curled finish having been cancelled out by a Niall McGinley penalty for the visitors before half-time, but Hughes wasted no time in making an impact – literally, as within seconds of being brought into the fray, he headed in a Reece Neale set-piece delivery with his very first touch. The 32-year-old doubled up 13 minutes later after an Arthurs pull-back teed up the shot, and via a deflection, Hughes celebrated his second goal of the game that rubber-stamped Bangor's place in the Round of 16, where fellow Playr-Fit Championship outfit Portadown lie in wait. The marksman admitted advancing to the next stage of a historic competition was a major positive.

"Absolutely," Hughes says of the importance of progressing to the next round. "Listen, obviously league form is your bread and butter, but if you can get a cup run, it's always nice. But, I can't complain with the way we've been going of late, you just want to keep the momentum going no matter what the competition is. So, it was obviously important to keep the run going, keep the momentum high and we're glad to be through."

Former Dundela ace Hughes brought his overall goal tally to nine since joining Bangor in January 2022, and he will soon face his former boss at the Duns, Niall Currie, come the first week of February when that showdown with the Ports takes place at Shamrock Park. Being an all-round package as a member of the frontline is something he takes huge pride in, and finding the net is something he takes confidence from while also praising the quality of service around him.

"Yes, I mean, look, it's always nice to contribute to the win, the win's the most important, but it's always nice as a forward to contribute with your goals and stuff," Hughes continued. "Obviously, scoring with your first touch is maybe a bit more unusual! But, again, brilliant delivery by Reece... I hardly had to move, really; I just had to apply the touch and that was it, really. So, really glad. I got a bit of luck with the deflection on the other one, but I'll claim it was going in anyway!" he laughs.

It's been a busy start to the January window on the Clandeboye Road and one of the three new arrivals so far, experienced defender Howard Beverland, debuted as a late sub against Emmet Friars' Dergs. The 33-year-old centre-back has been joined by right-back Conor McDermott and midfielder Tiarnan Mulvenna (both 26), and Hughes feels that the new additions will add competition to an already strong panel as well as challenging himself to continue to improve.

"That's it," Hughes adds on getting off the mark for the season before saying of the strength in depth: "Absolutely, there's loads of competition for places, it's a really strong squad that's just got stronger with January there.

"We're looking good, it's a strong squad but there's lots of competition, but it's a great achievement to be in (third-place in the league). Everyone wants what's best for the team and stuff and, you know, I'm just glad to contribute today as I said."

NEXT MATCH:
Saturday, 13th January 2024 - NEWINGTON v BANGOR, Championship, Inver Park, 3:00pm

(Posted: Saturday, 6th January 2024)

Bangor FC is pleased to confirm the arrival of midfielder Tiarnan Mulvenna to Clandeboye Park as the club's third signing of the winter window.

Mulvenna (26), who joins from Glenavon where he had spent six months in the Premiership having previously featured for Mid-Ulster League outfit Crewe United, enjoyed a brief stint on the seaside under Hugh Sinclair in January 2020 but re-signs at Clandeboye Park four years later on an 18-month contract.

Also counting St Patrick's Young Men, Newington and 1st Bangor among his former employers, Mulvenna, who was signed by Gary Hamilton at Glenavon but continued to feature under Stephen McDonnell at Mourneview Park, is predominantly a central midfielder, but the Belfast man can also be deployed in wider areas where required and will aim to make his mark under Lee Feeney in the yellow and blue shirt.

Making 20 top-flight appearances and registering a couple of assists in the BetMcLean Cup this term, and possessing experience at the highest level of the domestic game as Conor McDermott and Howard Beverland also have, Mulvenna is a highly regarded player who will also look to make a swift impact when he takes the field.

Welcome to Bangor Tiarnan!

(Posted: Friday, 5th January 2024)

Bangor turn attentions to the Irish Cup for the first time this season as Dergview visit Clandeboye Park in the competition's Fifth Round this weekend.

In the draw, the Seasiders were paired with their league mates from Castlederg, who make the long journey east from Co Tyrone for the second time in as many weeks following a 3-0 Playr-Fit Championship victory for Lee Feeney's charges on the 23rd December.

Second-half strikes by Ben Arthurs, Lewis Francis and Michael Halliday secured victory on that day, with those in yellow and blue entering on the back of an active seven-game unbeaten run stretching back to the end of November and a 4-0 away success over Annagh United. At the start of the transfer window, there has already been some activity, with Conor McDermott (Coleraine) and Howard Beverland (Ballyclare Comrades) linking up as midfielder Jack Henderson (Portadown) and defenders Sean Brown and Ali Omar (both Larne) have exited the club.

McDermott is cup-tied and therefore ineligible having already represented Lisburn Distillery in the competition, however Beverland could make his Bangor debut in this weekend's encounter. The collective aim, though, is to repeat last year's feat and reach the Sixth Round of the tournament, which will inspire belief going into the league where Emmet Friars' Dergs are also close on the horizon.


Bangor defender David Hume admits spirits are positive across the board as the Seasiders bid to make more famous memories in the Irish Cup.

The Seasiders progressed to the Fifth Round via the preliminaries in each of the three preceding seasons, but as a senior-status club, they have been dropped right in and will face fellow second-tier outfit Dergview in the pursuit of progress in one of world football's oldest cup competitions.

Stacked with history dating back well over 140 years, the prestige of the Irish Cup is huge for teams all across the Irish League and below, and with Lee Feeney's men having advanced beyond Mid-Ulster side Tandragee Rovers this time last year to set up a Friday night televised bonanza with Crusaders in the last-16, the ambition to go on a run in the tournament has never been higher on the Clandeboye Road.

Hume, speaking after last weekend's comeback 2-1 victory over Annagh United that extended the club's unbeaten run to seven ahead of facing Emmet Friars' Dergs this Saturday (3pm), revealed that the players are all charged up and ready to go on another cup surge.

"Yeah, it's been going well, it's good to start the new year with the Irish Cup," Hume says of the recent unbeaten run that saw Bangor enter 2024 third-placed in the Playr-Fit Championship.

"You want to get a wee run in there, don't you? So, we pick up a win there, and I think, thankfully it's at home, we don't have to travel all the way down there, but yeah, I think the mentality, everything at the club's good, everyone's positive.

"It feels like there's no one really in our league who we're afraid of, like we're competing against everyone, so I think even when it's in the Irish Cup, I think we're confident we're going in strong against Dergview.

"Pick up a win and pick up a wee cup run as well, and then if we win, we'll see who we get in the next round after that."

(Posted: Friday, 5th January 2024)

Bangor FC can confirm that defenders Sean Brown and Ali Omar have returned to Larne following their loan spells in the first half of the 2023/24 campaign.

Northern Ireland Under-19 international Brown was a mainstay in the right-sided centre-back berth for the Seasiders this term, playing in 22 matches and starting 21 with the full amount of minutes being played in every single one of those starts. He registered one goal and two assists in that time, with the 18-year-old singling himself out as a consistent and high-level performer in his first half-season of regular senior football.

Fellow defender Omar (24), who featured on four occasions in yellow and blue, arrived on an initial loan until January and has returned to Inver Park upon the conclusion of that agreement. The England-born centre-back, who made three starts, made his debut in the 5-1 away success against Knockbreda in mid-October – Brown scored in that game – before featuring in successive fixtures against Institute, Ballinamallard United and H&W Welders.

Chairman Graham Bailie commented: "Thank you to both lads for their time at the club, your attitude, commitment and quality has been outstanding. We wish you every success with the fantastic career you have ahead of you.

"We also would like to thank Larne FC for their continued cooperation and trust with their players."

Brown and Omar depart with the best wishes of Bangor FC for their future endeavours and we thank them for their contributions at Clandeboye Park this term.

(Posted: Thursday, 4th January 2024)

We are delighted to welcome defenders Conor McDermott and Howard Beverland to Clandeboye Park.

Bangor FC is pleased to confirm the signing of defender Conor McDermott on loan from Coleraine for the rest of the 2023/24 season.

The 26-year-old, whose forays from right-back earned him the Bannsiders' Player of the Year award last year, links up at Clandeboye Park having spent the first half of the campaign at Premier Intermediate League outfit Lisburn Distillery. A dependable player who started the BetMcLean Cup Final in front of over 11,000 spectators last term, McDermott joins as someone with extensive Premiership pedigree.

Also representing Cliftonville prior to joining Coleraine in 2022, the Derryman made 42 appearances with the Warden Street club across all competitions in 2022/23, scoring once, before heading out on loan to Distillery ahead of the current campaign where he had made eight appearances in the PIL.

Highly-rated McDermott first rose through the ranks at Derry City, where he won the League Cup in 2018.


Bangor FC is pleased to confirm the arrival of experienced Irish League centre-back Howard Beverland, the club's second signing of the January window.

Beverland, who follows right-back Conor McDermott through the entrance door at Clandeboye Park, links up with manager Lee Feeney's Seasider squad having made over 500 appearances throughout a distinguished career that includes a Premiership winners' medal with Crusaders.

The 33-year-old, originally from Ballymoney, graduated through the ranks at Coleraine before linking up with Stephen Baxter at Seaview where he won the title in 2018 as well as the Irish Cup, thereafter representing Portadown and Ballyclare Comrades in both the Premiership and Championship before making the move to north Down from the latter midway through the 2023/24 term.

He played seven times in the Playr-Fit Championship for Ballyclare this term and featured from the start for Stephen Small's men when the Seasiders emerged 4-2 victors in the County Antrim Shield last-16 back in September.

Welcome to Bangor Conor and Howard!

(Posted: Wednesday, 3rd January 2024)

Midfielder Jack Henderson has left the Seasiders to join Portadown.

We thank the 23 year old for his efforts during his second spell at Clandeboye Park.

(Posted: Monday, 1st January 2024)

Experienced defender David Hume admits it was a monkey off the collective Bangor back after the hosts held their nerve to record a hard-fought 2-1 win over Annagh United at Clandeboye Park on Saturday. The Seasiders fought from behind on the final matchday of 2023 to earn three more precious points for the Playr-Fit Championship kitty, leaving them on 38 points after 22 games and third-placed in the standings.

Lee Feeney's men were disappointed to let slip a two-goal advantage against Ards on Boxing Day, ultimately settling for a share of the derby spoils and a 2-2 draw, but supporters were heartened as the Yellows stayed firm to assure all three points for themselves and an extension of their unbeaten run in the second-flight to seven matches. That includes five victories in the last six, the North Down Derby stalemate being the sole exception.

Lewis Francis' brace meant the tide had been turned by half-time after Ruairi McDonald's 13th-minute deadlock-breaker for Annagh, ramming home six minutes after the Portadown side had found the net before heading in Reece Neale's right-sided corner on 41 minutes. It was a lead Bangor would see until the end and, while a bitter taste is still left from Boxing Day, Hume was proud to make amends.

"Absolutely," the Ballygowan man explained. "I think we'd said earlier this week, we said we'd three games, we'd try and get three wins.

"So, I think against Dergview (a 3-0 victory on the 23rd December) and today, they were good wins, and then we were saying in the changing room there, the Ards one from the other day is still annoying us, especially with where we're sitting in the league. I think we pick up those extra two points (from the Ards clash), and even against Portadown (a 2-2 draw at Clandeboye Park in which Bangor ceded a two-goal lead late on), it was a couple of points there we dropped with the draw, I think we're sitting second if we see those out. So, I think that's a bit frustrating, but it shows where we are in this league, our first year in it and we're annoyed at that. But it's good to win today, it puts us into third at the end of the year, which is a good kickstart going into 2024."

Hume, who is one of the longest-serving players in yellow and blue having joined from Tullycarnet back in the summer of 2020, knew Ciaran McGurgan's Annagh would apply the pressure following the restart and couldn't hide his satisfaction at Bangor's ability to "weather the storm". And after Callum Dougan and Ross Hunter hit the mark in the second half for Ards with Scott McArthur and Ben Arthurs having put the Seasiders into a commanding position on Boxing Day, he was pleased to put right mistakes that had been made.

Hume added: "Yeah, obviously they were going to come out and go for it a bit more, and a bit more direct. You want to win four, five, you want to win more, but it's about weathering the storms and it's putting right what we didn't do the other night. We held out, and sometimes you need to do that I think with teams this year, you've got to grind out wins, defend your box and, you know, hold onto that. I think when they push, you have to weather the storm a bit, and I thought we did that well today."

A big reason why Bangor preserved the lead was thanks to Hume's goalline heroics 68 minutes deep into proceedings. After Stephen Murray had lofted a shot goalwards with shot-stopper James Taylor off his line, the 32-year-old former Tullycarnet ace's defensive instinct kicked in and he headed clear right as the ball was about to trickle in. A nervy moment at the time, it was one Hume could look back on with a smile.

"You know what, I was saying in the changing room there to big James, see because it (the ball) was hanging in the air too long, I was nearly overthinking it!" the popular centre-back laughed. I think big James was sweating because he thought, 'how'd you manage to head it over the bar'! I was just glad to not stick it in the net!"

It was a show of never-say-die spirit that has been documented from within the squad, and Hume saluted the mentality to fight back after going behind.

He continued: "We'd said, Lee had said before the game, their threat is long balls, corners, free-kicks, throw-ins, so not to give them away, and I think their goal came from a free-kick, headed back across and their boy had three of our lads around him in the box, but he got the header.

"I think that was frustrating, but the mentality of our team, we know that if we can get a goal, get back into the game, we can kick on from there. I felt that, when big Lewis made it one each, you felt like the momentum swung our way. We were playing great football in the first half, getting the ball down, playing it about... I think we'd a ton of corners, we probably needed to score another one then, and I always felt, this team creates chances, we'll get back into this game. I think our problem is, and it's something we said in the changing room there, we don't score enough. We get to 2-1 and we just hold it out, but after that, I think we need to try and make it 3-1, 4-1, put the game to bed, so I think that's probably something we need to really kick on with in the new year.

"When we get a good advantage, we don't just have to grind it out like we did in the second half today, but actually go out, make it three, four, five and punish teams, get the goals up because we're doing well defensively but I think we can score more."

(Posted: Sunday, 31st December 2023)

Bangor capped off 2023 on a winning note after securing a nervy, end-to-end 2-1 victory over Annagh United at a blustery Clandeboye Park on Saturday.

Annagh surged into the lead on 13 minutes when Ruairi McDonald capitalised on a bouncing ball in the penalty area, slotting underneath James Taylor to hand the visitors the advantage early on, but Lewis Francis was on hand to level it with his third goal in his last five matches.

The Magherafelt centre-back rifled home from Reece Neale’s initial long throw-in and blasted home at opposition goalkeeper Jason Craughwell’s near post with the Seasiders being behind for only six minutes, and they led through the Dungannon Swifts loanee’s sixth finish of the campaign four minutes before half-time as he powered home a header from Reece Neale’s inswinging delivery on the right.

Chances for Reece Neale and Ben Arthurs before the hour ensured that Bangor started the second period on the front foot, while a Scott McCullough attempt that fizzed off the ground called James Taylor into action. Craig Taylor struck the Bangor stopper’s upright before David Hume spectacularly cleared off the line from Stephen Murray’s attempt, with Annagh finding their groove and making it a battle following the interval.

Taylor and Murray were also causing trouble as Annagh shifted through the gears in the latter stages of the contest, with James Taylor making a pair of fine stops to deny them. Reece Neale tested Craughwell in what was a rare alleviation of Annagh pressure on 86 minutes, while Jack Henderson also arrowed past the post two minutes later, but there were sighs of relief when the final whistle blew and the points were confirmed as all Bangor’s.

BANGOR TEAM:
J.Taylor, D.Hume, L.Francis, S.Brown, R.Neale, L.Harrison(K.Devine, 48’), J.Henderson, T.Mathieson, S.McArthur(M.Halliday, 81’), B.Arthurs, A.Neale(Walker, 71’).
Subs: M.Orbinson, G.Beattie, R.Arthur, D.O’Kane.

GARY'S MATCH GALLERY


Bangor's two-goal hero Lewis Francis lauded how the clinical edge that was somewhat lacking in the Boxing Day draw with Ards had reverted to type to secure a hard-fought victory in the Seasiders' last match of 2023. The centre-back scored a couple of goals in the first half to overturn an early deficit against Annagh United, powering home on 19 minutes after the visitors had taken the lead through Ruairi McDonald six minutes earlier prior to heading in Reece Neale's delicious corner just before half-time to give the hosts the advantage for the first time in the contest.

The Yellows would not relinquish that for the rest of the encounter, but they had to weather a storm to maintain it. Despite Annagh piling on the pressure in the second period, with Craig Taylor striking the upright, Conall Young spurning a presentable opportunity from close range and Stephen Murray's looping shot being cleared off the line by the backtracking David Hume, Ciaran McGurgan's men would leave empty-handed and counterpart Lee Feeney celebrated a return to winning ways following a 2-1 success.

Magherafelt teenager Francis, who ends a December punctuated by four of his six total strikes that has him behind only Ben Arthurs and Adam Neale in the scoring charts, was delighted to come out the right side of this pulsating duel.

He reflected: "Well, against Ards, we lacked that desire in both boxes in the second half, and (Lee Feeney and the coaches) kind of emphasised to us before the game, we have to be more clinical in both boxes.

"We didn't get off to the best start today but I thought after that, we defended our box really well, especially the second half, and then today, we attacked both boxes rightly. I got on the end of two (in the opposition box) so, yeah, all good."

The Dungannon Swifts loanee, who started the last month of the year with a 93rd-minute winner in the 3-2 triumph away to Ballyclare Comrades that came after Bangor had fallen to a 2-1 deficit with less than a quarter-hour of the match remaining, believes the spirit shown since that rousing fightback at Dixon Park has underpinned the impressive form those in yellow and blue have displayed since then.

"I think before Ballyclare, we hadn't came back in a game and won, so I think that was a big turning point for us, and then you look at the form we've hit since Ballyclare, we're the most in-form team in the league and, you know, Tuesday (against Ards) was disappointing, it felt like two points dropped, but you've got to look at it as a point. We're still undefeated, we take it one game at a time and not get too ahead of ourselves."

Three wins out of three against Annagh with nine goals scored in that span marks an impressive return against the previous campaign's promotion play-off representatives, with third-placed Bangor now just a couple of points away from that position in the table themselves.

The players are next in action in the Irish Cup Fifth Round and face Dergview at home, who Francis found the net against seven days prior when the Seagulls despatched the Tyrone men 3-0 at Clandeboye Park. The defender feels progress in tournaments such as these is important going forward. "Everyone wants to go on a wee cup run, so we feel we've got a winnable tie here as well, so we'll not look past Dergview and hopefully we'll do enough to get to the next round."

NEXT MATCH:
Saturday, 6th January 2024, BANGOR v DERGVIEW, Clandeboye Park, Irish Cup, 3:00pm

(Posted: Saturday, 30th December 2023)