Back to a full round of fixtures in the Danske Bank Premiership this weekend with a bonus midweek match for added enjoyment. The tie of the weekend was undoubtedly the ‘Big Two’ fixture between Linfield and Glentoran at Windsor Park – less than week on from the momentous International fixture at the same venue.
Carrick Rangers 0-1 Ards, Tuesday 5th September
Ards travelled to the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena to collect their first points of the season thanks to a late goal from Scott Davidson. It was Ards who dominated the opening stages of the match, with Jonny Frazer and Guillaume Keke continuing to impress, but the sides went into the half scoreless. Just after the hour Ards were reduced to 10 men when Kyle Cherry was dismissed for a tackle on Aaron Smyth, Cherry may well feel aggrieved as replays showed the challenge to have been more of a 50/50 tackle between the two. Five minutes later Mark Surgenor was given his marching orders too for a second yellow. It wasn’t until the 88th minute that substitute Scott Davidson grabbed the winner, nodding over the line after Harry Doherty had tipped David McAllister’s initial shot onto the crossbar.
Glenavon 2-0 Carrick Rangers
Just 3 days after their defeat to Ards, Carrick made the Friday night trip to Mourneview Park to take on a Glenavon side who had only lost one of their opening five league games. Harry Doherty was in fine form for the away side again as Glenavon just couldn’t beat the Carrick stopper in the opening 45 minutes. It was on 66 minutes that a Glenavon finally found their opener, former NI international Sammy Clingan slotting home a penalty after Paddy McNally fouled Jordan Jenkins. Glenavon doubled their lead just minutes before full time when Andrew Mitchell curled the ball home for his sixth goal of the season.
Ards 0-3 Coleraine
Ards were unable to continue their midweek exploits against a Coleraine side who made it 6 wins from 6 in the league so far this season. Just before the hour mark Coleraine took the lead and doubled it in quick succession. Josh Carson opened the scoring, tapping in from 7 yards after Hogg parried a long range effort into his path, Darren McCauley made it 2 with a well taken volley from the edge of the box – yet another fine finish from the Bannsiders midfielder. The scoring was finished on 75 minutes when McCauley claimed his second of the day from the penalty spot after Johnny Taylor had brought down Jamie McGonigle.
Ballinamallard 1-5 Crusaders
The Mallards poor start to the season continued as a dominant Crusaders romped to victory by a margin of four at Ferney Park. The Crues opened the scoring on 9 minutes when Paul Heatley dived to head home from close range after a Jordan Owens flick-on from a long throw. Just before the half Crusaders had their second, another long throw flicked on, this time into the path of Philip Lowry who fired it into the net. There were signs of a Ballinamallard fight back on 59 minutes when Ryan Curran’s show fooled Sean O’Neill at his near post but any hint of a scoreline reversal was put to bed two minutes later when Paul Heatley capitalised as a deflected shot fell into his path. Heatley completed his hattrick on 75 minutes as he raced clear of the defence and finished the ball into the bottom right of the Mallards’ net. Four minutes later Jordan Owens grabbed a goal of his own with a fine low shot into the far corner.
Cliftonville 2-1 Dungannon Swifts
Cliftonville picked up their second win of the season but were made to work for it by a Dungannon team who had won their previous two league fixtures. It was Dungannon who had the majority share of the first half chances but found themselves up against an in-form Brett Long in the Cliftonville goal. After a goalless first half it was the Reds who found the opener on 51 minutes as Garry Breen headed in from a corner from six yards out. Joe Gormley doubled the home side’s lead ten minutes later after an incisive breakaway allowed him to bear down on goal and finish into the top corner. It was a nervy finish for the Reds as Dungannon pulled a goal back on 73 minutes, Chris Hegarty heading in from a long free kick – Cliftonville have been particularly poor at defending set pieces in recent times. The home team held on well to secure a vital victory at Solitude.
Linfield 1-0 Glentoran
The much anticipated first ‘Big Two’ clash of the season was settled in the first five minutes by an Aaron Burns header from 12 yards out. Linfield, however, had their international goalkeeper Roy Carroll to thank for keeping them ahead as the veteran stopped made numerous impressive saves to thwart a fervent Glentoran attacking line. Robbie McDaid, Curtis Allen and John McGuigan were among those to have credible efforts saved by Carroll. The result sees Glentoran slip to 5th with their first loss and Linfield make it five wins from five and no goals conceded!
Warrenpoint Town 1-3 Ballymena United
Martin Murray took just 25 seconds to find the back of the net for Warrenpoint as he raced clear of the Sky Blues’ defensive line to pass the ball home. Cathair Friel equalised on 18 minutes, heading in from a finely delivered Ballymena corner. The visitors took the lead just after the hour when Emmet Friars headed in at the far post from a Steven McCullough corner. Cathair Friel secured the three points for the travelling side as he poked the ball home from the six yard box after a cross from the left wing. A result which leaves The Point with just 3 points from 6 games played while Ballymena climb above Dungannon and Carrick into joint 6th place.