Danske Bank Premiership: Bannsiders march on as Crues batter Blues

NIFL Premiership

The Sky Sports cameras graced Irish league football again this matchweek as they witnessed a key Linfield-Crusaders clash at Windsor Park. Meanwhlie, at the foot of the table Ballinamallard took their opportunity to record a first league victory this season.

(All kick-offs Saturday 3pm unless stated otherwise)

Ards 2-1 Warrenpoint Town, Friday 8.00pm

Warrenpoint took the lead after just 5 minutes when Darren Murray intelligently found a few yards of space in the box at a corner and fired home. The blustery conditions of Storm Brian were doing nothing for the aesthetics of the football but Ards got themselves back into the game just after the hour. Jonah Mitchell found himself in the box with the ball at this feet and finished neatly into the bottom corner. In the final moments of the game Guillaume Keke ran clear of the Point defence and slotted in the winner. Ards climbed above Carrick into 9th place while Warrenpoint find themselves perilously close to the drop zone in 11th.

Cliftonville 1-2 Coleraine

The league leaders Coleraine took a 10th-minute lead through captain David Ogilby, a well-hit freekick bent around the Cliftonville wall and nestled into the bottom corner of the net. The Reds equalised through Rory Donnelly from a corner, Chris Curran’s corner had the Coleraine defence all at sea leaving Donnelly an easy finish at the back post. Coleraine regained their lead 3 minutes into the second half when Joe McCready managed to poke the ball home from 8 yards out. Cliftonville had two big chances to equalise through Joe Gormley and Stephen Garrett but both spurned their chances in front of goal. Cliftonville’s Liam Bagnall was dismissed late on for a second yellow card. Coleraine’s win maintains their unbeaten record this season while Cliftonville remain down in 6th place on 19 points.

Ballinamallard United 2-0 Carrick Rangers

The Mallards went ahead in the 5th minute of play when a long freekick was headed back across goal and Matthew Smyth rose highest to nod the ball into the Carrick net. The lead was doubled just before the half-hour mark when Jonathan Leddy struck a sweetly hit shot from outside the box that flew beyond Carrick’s Harry Doherty low to his left-hand side. Carrick’s Mark Edgar was dismissed in the second half for what the referee deemed to be dangerous play, despite the extra man advantage Ballinamallard were unable to add to their first-half lead. The Mallards’ first win of the season brings them up to 4 points but they remain bottom of the table. Carrick now slip to 10th place just 2 points above Warrenpoint.

Glenavon 4-0 Ballymena United

The highest scoring team in the league continued their goal glut by striking 4 at home to the Sky Blues. Andrew Mitchell opened the scoring when his near post shot from a tight angle was fumbled over the line by Ballymena goalkeeper Conor Brennan. Mitchell had his second just over 10 minutes later as he took the ball down well, turned and smashed a shot in from distance. Bobby Burns gave Glenavon their 3rd on 32 minutes as he strode down the left-hand side and finished neatly into the far corner from inside the box. Kyle Owens was given his marching orders for the second time this season for a rash challenge on Bobby Burns before Glenavon made it 4 on the stroke of half time. Andy Hall’s long-range freekick evading the clutches of Conor Brennan. Ballymena had the better of the second half chances but couldn’t get themselves back into the game. Glenavon continue their pursuit of league leaders Coleraine as they remain 5 points behind in 2nd place. Ballymena’s loss means they remain in 8th place, 3 points ahead of Ards.

Dungannon Swifts 0-2 Glentoran, Saturday 5.30pm

The late kick-off at Stangmore Park saw Glentoran take the spoils as they wrapped up all 3 points in the first 10 minutes of play. The Glens went 1 ahead after only 2 minutes of play when Nathan Kerr crossed for Curtis Allen to head in. It was 2 on 9 minutes when Ross Redman’s freekick cross was won by Daniel Kelly and dropped at the feet of Calum Birney to prod it over the line. Elliott Morris had to be alert to thwart an effort from Ryan Mayse in the first half as the Swifts looked to bounce back and again from Cormac Burke into the second half. Glentoran now climb above Crusaders into 4th although the Crues hold two games in hand of the East Belfast club. Dungannon remain in the bottom half with 14 points in 7th place.

Linfield 2-5 Crusaders, Monday 8.00pm

Last season’s top two treated the Sky cameras to a spectacle at Windsor Park as the Crues romped home victorious. Paul Heatley fired Crusaders into the lead on 22 minutes before a Mark Stafford own goal doubled their lead 11 minutes later. Mark Stafford made his amends on 38 minutes as he headed Linfield back into near contention. However, Crusaders restored their two-goal advantage just before the break through Gavin Whyte’s left footed shot. Into the second ha, f Aaron Burns’ headed goal gave the Blues hope again but Crusaders remained defiant before a Jimmy Callacher own goal and Philip Lowry strike ended the game 5-2 in the Hatchetmen’s favour. That emphatic result sees Crusaders climb above their cross-town rivals into 3rd place, Linfield are now a full 10 points adrift of rampant league leaders Coleraine.

About the Author

Matt McKay
Glentoran and Northern Ireland fan.