It was another weekend of goals galore in the Danske Bank Premiership headlined by a clash between the incumbent top two, Coleraine and Glenavon. Further to that it was another night in front of the cameras for Irish League football as Glentoran hosted Ballymena United live on Sky Sports.
(All kick offs Saturday 3pm unless stated otherwise)
Ards 2-4 Crusaders
Gavin Whyte rose up unmarked to head in from a Jordan Forsythe freekick for the solitary goal of the first half in this fixture. After the hour mark Paul Heatley doubled the Crues’ lead, latching onto a long clearance to finish a superbly taken lob over a stranded Samuel Johnston. Gavin Whyte slotted home his second of the day with just less than 20 minutes remaining. In a frenzied finish to the game Guillaume Keke headed in for Ards before Crusaders restored their 3 goal advantage thanks to a fantastic effort from range by substitute David Cushley. Kyle Cherry managed to add a second for the home side but the damage had already long been done. Ards remain in 9th position while 3rd place Crusaders gain some ground on Glenavon above them.
Ballinamallard United 0-6 Linfield
Linfield completed a rout over struggling Ballinamallard despite going down to 10 men before half time. Mark Haughey opened the scoring with a bullet header from a Matthew Clarke cross before Kirk Millar doubled the lead on the half hour mark with a looping header after Jordan Stewart had bamboozled the Mallards’ defence. Minutes before half time Linfield had a third as Andrew Waterworth forced the ball over the line from a corner, it was in the aftermath of this goal that Joshua Robinson was sent off following a scuffle in the goalmouth. Undeterred, Linfield added a fourth 7 minutes into the second half, another header courtesy of Mark Haughey. Some excellent work down the right wing from Kirk Millar gave Jordan Stewart an easy tap in for 5 on 74 minutes before Waterworth finished the game off in the final minutes with a well taken chip over the advancing Richard Brush. Ballinamallard remain rooted to the bottom of the table with 4 points from 14 games as Linfield push on in 4th and look to keep in touch with the top of the league.
Cliftonville 3-0 Carrick Rangers
Cliftonville continued their early season revival thanks to a Joe Gormley brace. Gormley grabbed his first on 20 minutes after linking up well with Tomas Cosgrove before skipping his way into the box and slotting the ball under the Carrick goalkeeper. Gormley had his second before the half had finished when Harry Doherty made a good save from Rory Donnelly but could not keep out the follow up effort from Gormley. Gormley did have the ball in the net for his hattrick early in the second half only to see it ruled out for offside. The Reds did have their third when Daniel Hughes ran clear of the Carrick defence before rounding Doherty with ease and tapping into an open net. Rangers are 10th in the league just a point ahead of Warrenpoint, 5th place Cliftonville continue to keep in touch with those ahead of them as they gain ground of Glentoran below them.
Glenavon 2-2 Coleraine
Glenavon twice fought back from a goal down despite playing most of the match a man down in this top of the table clash. It was Jamie McGonigle who opened the scoring, taking advantage of a lapse in concentration in the Glenavon defence to pick up the ball and finish beyond Tuffey as the Lurgan Blues stood and watched on. James Singleton received his marching orders on 15 minutes as he brought down Ian Parkhill on a clear run to goal. Glenavon got themselves back on level terms 10 minutes later when Mark Sykes burst through from midfield to squeeze the ball beyond Chris Johns. Coleraine regained their lead 8 minutes into the second half with a great finish from Josh Carson from outside the box but it wasn’t to last as Glenavon equalised again with just over 10 minutes to go. Sammy Clingan despatched the penalty after Chris Johns had fouled Andy Hall. The gap remains at 8 points between 1st and 2nd Coleraine and Glenavon with the chasing pack gaining two points on their title rivals.
Warrenpoint Town 1-2 Dungannon Swifts
Dungannon completed a second half comeback to leave Warrenpoint wanting at Milltown. Point took the lead after 5 minutes when Lorcan Forde made a great run through the middle before laying off to Alan Davidson whose shot bounced off the underside of the crossbar and into the back of the net. Ryan Mayse was the man to drag Dungannon back into the game as his sweetly struck volley flew into the back of the net in the early part of the second half. Kris Lowe made it mission accomplished after the hour mark as his near post finished gave the Swifts their victory. Swifts move 2 points clear of Ballymena as they occupy 7th place but Warrenpoint hang perilously in 11th, just 4 points off bottom.
Glentoran 1-1 Ballymena United, Monday 7.45pm on Sky Sports
Glentoran had early chances through James Knowles and Curtis Allen but failed to truly challenge Ross Glendinning in the Ballymena goal. The Sky Blues were gifted an opportunity to take the lead on 16 minutes when Marcus Kane clumsily brought down Gary Thompson in the box, Cathair Friel stepped up and duly converted to give Ballymena the lead. Elliott Morris kept Glentoran in the game making two crucial saves from Johnny McMurray and Conor McCloskey. Glentoran did get themselves level in the second half thanks to hard graft down the left wing from Dylan Davidson leading to a chance for James Knowles to fire home after Ballymena failed to deal with Davidson’s low cross. Elliott Morris was on hand again to make a superb stop, this time from Cathair Friel, before Curtis Allen squandered a glorious chance for the Glens. Glentoran lose ground on Cliftonville as they remain in 6th place while Ballymena are in 8th and now 2 points behind Dungannon.