Danske Bank Premiership: Blues falter and Reds run riot!

NIFL Premiership

On a weekend when International football once again overshadowed domestic football, the NIFL Premiership offered up yet another glut of twists and turns with plenty of goals in accompaniment.

(All kick offs Saturday 3pm unless stated otherwise)

Ballymena United 2-1 Linfield, Friday 7.45pm

Linfield’s inconsistent start to the season continued as the Blues dropped a first half lead to allow Ballymena to walk away with all 3 points at Ballymena Showgrounds. Robbie Garrett had Linfield in front after only 4 minutes when the midfielder latched onto a half cleared cross, it was delightfully taken and fizzed into the bottom corner beyond ex-Blues stopper Ross Glendinning. The Blues were without Roy Carroll due to international commitments and it was stand-in Gareth Deane who was caught out by a 53rd minute Conor McCloskey freekick that floated over the goalkeeper’s head and in at the far post. The Sky Blues had their winner just 7 minutes later with a goal of the season contender: Glendinning’s goal kick was headed on to Johnny McMurray who controlled the ball and unleashed a stunning volley from over 30 yards out that looped over Deane’s head and into the back of the net. Robbie Garrett was dismissed in the final moments for a second yellow card. Ballymena overtake Dungannon Swifts into 7th place while the Blues drop down to 5th.

Carrick Rangers 0-2 Warrenpoint Town

Warrenpoint had Stephen Murray’s second half brace to thank for their victory over 10 man Carrick at the Belfast Loughshore Arena on Saturday. Aaron Smyth was given his marching orders just before half time but will have every right to feel aggrieved having watched back the footage – both players went fully committed into a challenge that was there for the taking but referee Arnold Hunter decided Smyth’s part was worthy of a red for dangerous play. After a host of missed chances Warrenpoint finally took advantage of having the extra man on 73 minutes when Stephen Murray volleyed in after Carrick failed to deal with the corner. 4 minutes later Stephen Murray doubled his tally for the day with a neat near post finish as Point made full use of a quick, effective counter attack. Darren Murray had the chance to make it 3 from the spot late into the game but was denied by an excellent save from Harry Doherty. The win takes Warrenpoint up two places to 9th while Carrick slip below their opposition to 11th.

Cliftonville 5-0 Ballinamallard United

Cliftonville continued their recent free-scoring run as they ran riot over visitors Ballinamallard at Solitude. It took the Reds only 3 minutes to find the opener as young Jay Donnelly showed great technique to volley into the bottom corner from a poorly cleared corner. The lead was doubled just after the half hour mark as Joe Gormley headed into an empty net thanks to the knock down from Rory Donnelly. Gormley had his second of the day minutes later as he took advantage of a mistake in the Mallards backline to tap into another empty net. It was another mix up in the defence that led to Daniel Hughes tapping in for the fourth – Richard Brush colliding with his defender and gifting the opportunity to the substitute. Hughes had his second of the day through an 85th minute penalty, the sub was brought down before picking himself up to slot in Cliftonville’s 5th of the day. Cliftonville climb above Linfield into 4th while the Mallards remain rooted to the foot of the table with 13 losses from 15 games played.

Glentoran 1-3 Glenavon, Tuesday 7.45pm

Glentoran gave up an early first half lead to walk away with nothing as Glenavon made full use of two second half penalties. It was the Glens who broke the deadlock after only 4 minutes as Curtis Allen broke down the left wing to cross for Robbie McDaid who managed to squeeze the ball into the far corner. However, the lead lasted a mere 2 minutes as Andrew Mitchell pounced to head in from close range beyond Elliott Morris. Into the second half Glenavon were awarded their first penalty on 74 minutes for a foul by Tre Sterling, the spot kick was converted by Sammy Clingan. Clingan had his second penalty of the evening on 83 minutes after a handball in the box, yet again Clingan made no mistake and handed the Lurgan Blues a fantastic away victory. The result brings 2nd place Glenavon back to 5 points behind league leaders Coleraine while Glentoran continue to linger in 6th just 4 points above the split.

Dundee United 1-2 Crusaders

Crusaders continued their excellent run in the Scottish Challenge Cup as they overcame holders Dundee United in a difficult away tie. Dundee United had taken the lead 10 minutes into the second half through Fraser Fyvie before David Cushley equalised on 67 minutes. Gavin Whyte scored the winning goal in added time. The Crues are now through to the semi-finals along with Dumbarton, Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Welsh side The New Saints.

About the Author

Matt McKay
Glentoran and Northern Ireland fan.