This weekend four of the top five teams in the league faced off as the league title race continued its twisting and turning.
(All kick offs Saturday 3pm unless stated otherwise)
Glenavon 0-1 Linfield, Friday 8.00pm
The Blues took just 17 minutes to get themselves ahead when Chris Casement’s corner was sliced into the air by Rhys Marshall and Cameron Stewart rose highest to head down into the Glenavon net. The striker made amends for missing a glorious chance just moments earlier. Linfield did have the ball in the back of the net again before the half was over but it was disallowed for handball. Sammy Clingan almost equalised in superb fashion late on but his thunderous strike was excellently tipped over by former international teammate Roy Carroll. The Blues missed several chances throughout the game but will have been satisfied to secure a difficult 3 points against a top Glenavon side. Linfield remain a point behind Cliftonville in 5th place while Glenavon drop to 3rd.
Cliftonville 1-0 Ballymena United
The Reds made it five wins in a row with a narrow home victory over Ballymena. However, it was the away side who had the better chances in the first half, twice seeing the ball crash against the woodwork. Cliftonville built up a head of steam after the break and deservedly took the lead with 20 minutes to go, Stephen Garrett tapping in the rebound after Rory Donnelly’s shot came off the post. Cliftonville close the gap on Glenavon to 2 points as they remain in 3rd position and 7th place Ballymena see their lead over Dungannon slip to a solitary point.
Coleraine 1-1 Crusaders
Coleraine looked to bounce back after their first loss of the season to Linfield last week. Despite plenty of chances for both teams, the match entered half time scoreless. It wasn’t until 66 minutes that the Bannsiders broke the deadlock as Jamie McGonigle’s deflected shot trickled beyond the fingertips of Brian Jensen and into the bottom corner. The lead lasted 12 minutes until Howard Beverland grabbed the equaliser against his former club, Chris Johns came rushing to collect the corner and missed the ball allowing Beverland an easy header. Coleraine remain top of the league with only 1 loss in 17 games, Crusaders climb to joint 2nd with Glenavon but ahead by sorting rules.
Dungannon Swifts 4-0 Carrick Rangers
Carrick’s woes continued as Dungannon Swifts swept four past them at Stangmore Park. Ryan Harpur had secured the proverbial match ball before the first half had even finished, completing a 25 minute hattrick. Kris Lowe completed the scoring with 5 minutes of the first half remaining. 8th place Dungannon are now just a point behind Ballymena meanwhile Carrick remain in 11th with 9 points from 16 games played.
Glentoran 0-2 Ards
The pressure on Glentoran manager Gary Haveron will have only increased after the East Belfast slipped to a 2-0 home defeat to ex-Glenman Colin Nixon’s Ards side. Glentoran did hit the crossbar from range in the opening minutes before Curtis Allen mixed a free header at goal from inside the six yard box. Ards took the lead just before half time when Michael McLellan headed in Nathan Hanley’s freekick. The game was put to bed when Ards regained possession inside the Glentoran half and Jonny Frazer squeezed the ball beyond Elliott Morris to secure the victory. Glentoran sink further adrift of the front 5 and are the only team in the top half with a negative goal difference. Ards’ win takes them up into 9th place as they leapfrog Warrenpoint.
Ballinamallard United 1-1 Warrenpoint Town, Saturday 5.30pm
The early evening kick off at Ferney Park was to see the spoils shared between two of the bottom three. Ballinamallard took the lead just inside the second half through a Shane McGinty strike before Richard Clarke was sent off. Darren Murray struck the equaliser with 13 minutes remaining to ensure both sides left with a point. The Mallards worries continue as they sit perilously in bottom place with 5 points from 17 games while Warrenpoint drop to 10th just 3 points above Carrick Rangers.