A full schedule of Danske Bank Premiership football resumed this week and left nothing to the imagination. There were goals, 23 to be precise, upsets and controversies with only one clean sheet between the 12 teams!
(All kick-offs Saturday 3pm unless stated otherwise)
Warrenpoint Town 2-1 Ballinamallard United, Friday 7.45pm
Friday night saw the battle of the bottom two as the Mallards travelled to Milltown. The home side dominated the early spells of the game but had to wait until 37 minutes before they found their breakthrough, Stephen Murray setting up Darren Murray for a neat finish inside the box. Point started the second half strongly and Ballinamallard had goalkeeper Richard Brush to thank for keeping them in the tie. Mallards took advantage of some slack defending by the home side and Shane McGinty was presented an opportunity to equalise which he did with ease. Warrenpoint regained their lead with 2 minutes remaining as Ballinamallard failed to deal with a ball into the area and Alan Davidson pounced to fire home the winner. Warrenpoint have now lifted themselves 6 points clear of Ballinamallard who are rooted to the bottom of the table after a run of seven consecutive losses.
Ballymena United 6-3 Ards
Ards managed to get themselves on the end of their second 6-3 loss of the season when they travelled to Ballymena. Gary Thompson opened the scoring with a left footed shot on 17 minutes. Ballymena were gifted their second on 29 minutes when Cathair Friel latched onto an errant backpass, his first touch running perfectly into the path of Andrew Burns to finish. Ards pulled one back when Gareth Tommons fired into the roof of the net when ball dropped to him from a corner on 36 minutes. Ballymena took back their two-goal lead on 52 minutes through a nice glancing header from Cathair Friel. The Sky Blues got their fourth on 76 minutes when Joe McKinney breached the Ards defence and slipped the ball beneath the Ards goalkeeper. Ards put up a minor fightback when they forced the ball over the line during a goalmouth scramble on 79 minutes and pulled the score back to 4-3 a minute later thanks to a Michael Ruddy penalty. Just another minute later Ballymena gave themselves a bit of breathing space, Leroy Millar heading home then in the final minutes of the game Kevin Braniff finished the scoring from the penalty spot. Ballymena are now just a point behind Dungannon Swifts meanwhile Ards sit on 7 points after 11 games this season.
Carrick Rangers 2-1 Dungannon Swifts
Carrick completed a second half fight back to take all three points against Dungannon. The Swifts took a first half lead when Ally Teggart applied the finish after the ball was knocked down from an excellent Paul McElroy cross from the right wing. It wasn’t until the 73rd minute that Carrick got themselves back into the game, Lee Chapman running on to a headed knock on to lob the ball over the on-rushing goalkeeper. 3 minutes later Carrick claimed their winner when Michael Smith peeled off his marker to head into the back of the net. That result means Carrick Rangers climbed above Ards into 9th place while Dungannon only retain 7th place by a 1 point margin.
Coleraine 2-1 Linfield
It was scoreless at the break at the Showgrounds with all three goals coming in the second half. The opener came courtesy of a Brad Lyons header from a well-directed free kick. The Blues got their equaliser 8 minutes later, a Kirk Millar corner headed into Chris Johns’ net by Mark Haughey. Coleraine’s controversial winner came in the dying moments of the game as Jamie McGonigle’s strike had beaten Roy Carroll but appeared to be cleared off the Linfield goal line by Joshua Robinson. The officials gave the goal much to the disdain of Blues’ manager David Healy who was sent off for his protests. Coleraine remain clear at the top of the table, unbeaten after 10 matches. The Blues drop to 3rd in the league a full 7 points behind today’s opposition.
Crusaders 2-3 Glenavon
Glenavon continued their fine start to the season as they clinched a vital victory at Seaview. Glenavon had the lead after only 2 minutes of play, Mark Sykes finding the back of the net after a determined run from Rhys Marshall. Paul Heatley equalised for the Crues on 10 minutes with a stunning shot into the top corner from 20 yards. Marc Griffin restored Glenavon’s lead 4 minutes later as he applied the finish within the 6-yard box from a low cross from the right. On 26 minutes the Lurgan Blues doubled their lead, Colin Coates gave the ball away as he was bringing the ball out of defence, Glenavon countered quickly and it was Andrew Mitchell in the box who put the finishing touch on the move. Jordan Owens and Paul Heatley both squandered glorious second half chances before the Crues pulled a goal back in the last few minutes of play. A typically David Cushley thronker from distance which may have taken a deflection on its way goalward. Glenavon climb above Linfield into 2nd place while Crusaders now just have a 1-point lead over 5th place Cliftonville.
Glentoran 0-2 Cliftonville
Rory Donnelly put an inconsistent Glentoran side to the sword as Cliftonville walked away from The Oval with all the points. Cliftonville took the lead on 29 minutes, Joe Gormley’s cross from the left was met by the stooping header from Rory Donnelly. Glentoran offered very little in attack and as they pushed men forward in the final minutes of the match Cliftonville found their second goal of the game. Stephen Garrett broke into the left side of the box and squared the ball for Rory Donnelly to place it beyond Elliott Morris and seal the victory. Cliftonville’s victory means they climb above Glentoran into 5th and are just a point behind North Belfast rivals Crusaders.