Irish League Round Up: Ballymena crash to Warrenpoint defeat as Linfield have one hand on the league title
Linfield have one hand on the Gibson Cup after Ballymena United fell to a 2-1 defeat to Warrenpoint Town at the Showgrounds on Saturday.
Elsewhere, it took a late Ronan Hale smasher to deny Ards victory over Crusaders after Institute had beaten Coleraine in the day's early kick-off. Newry City host Glenavon at 5.30pm.
Here's all you need to know about the day's games:
Ballymena United 1-2 Warrenpoint Town
Warrenpoint Town have perhaps put an end to Ballymena United's title chase.
Their 2-1 victory at the Ballymena Showgrounds means a Linfield win when the top two meet next time out will put the Blues 12 points clear with four games left to play. With a goal difference 17 better than their rivals, that would be the title effectively won.
All had looked good for the Sky Blues when Adam Lecky opened the scores on 16 minutes, picking up the ball from Jude Winchester before turning in the box and blasting home.
Point were level by the break as Philip Donnelly got on the end of a cross and stayed alert to bundle into the net after his first effort had been saved.
Even a point would have been little use for Ballymena if they were hoping to chase down the Blues but they didn't even get that as Brazilian Hernany Marques smashed home after Lee Duffy's free-kick had been saved.
Ards 2-2 Crusaders
Crusaders came back from 2-0 down to deny second-bottom Ards what would have been a priceless victory in their battle to avoid the drop.
Mark Kelly put the hosts ahead on 26 minutes with a deflected effort beating Sean O'Neill. Former Crusaders player Craig McClean doubled the lead at the start of the second half, curling a free-kick into the top corner.
However, with 20 minutes remaining, Declan Caddell headed home from close range after Jordan Owens knocked the ball down.
And that set the stage for a spectacular Ronan Hale leveller, smashing home from outside the box to lift the Crues within four points of Ballymena and leave Ards just two clear of Newry before the bottom side's game against Glenavon.
Institute 1-0 Coleraine
As if it had been in any doubt, Institute made mathematically certain sure of survival with their 11th victory of the campaign.
It arrived thanks to a late Aaron Jarvis strike that was made easy by a barn-storming Ronan Wilson run from midfield, the former Derry City player unselfish enough to square the ball for a simple finish.
Stute are now level on points with seventh-placed Glentoran, who have a game in hand for the final European play-off place.
Newry City 0-1 Glenavon
Andrew Mitchell’s late strike lifted Glenavon to within four points of third-placed Crusaders in the race for automatic European qualification in the late kick off game.
The striker had provided the assist from a free-kick during the first half but Eoin Wearen’s goal was ruled out for offside.
Conor McCloskey was denied by former Glenavon stopper Andy Coleman one-on-one but his replacement Stephen Murray provided the telling cross for Mitchell to head into the top corner.
Newry are two points adrift of Ards at the bottom. The two go head to head next time out.
Dungannon Swifts 0-5 Linfield (Friday)
Belfast Telegraph Digital