Belfast Telegraph

Irish League Round Up: Coleraine cut the gap at the top as rivals Ballymena hold Crusaders

Coleraine's Ben Doherty netted twice as the Bannsiders eased to victory at the Showgrounds.
Coleraine's Ben Doherty netted twice as the Bannsiders eased to victory at the Showgrounds.

Coleraine had their rivals Ballymena to thank as they cut the gap to table-topping Crusaders.

Here's all you need to know about the evening's Irish League matches:

Ballymena United 1-1 Crusaders

League leaders Crusaders failed to win for only the third time in 13 domestic games this season as Ballymena earned a draw at the Showgrounds.

Defender Howard Beverland had said Crusaders' win over Linfield would only be significant if his team could back it up in the coming weeks and they were on track at the Showgrounds on 48 minutes, when Jamie McGonigle netted a penalty after Ryan Harpur was adjudged to have handled in the area.

The former Dungannon midfielder took matters into his own hands to make amends, which he did when he flicked a header in by getting on the end of Scott Whiteside's cross.

Cliftonville 1-0 Larne

Substitute Ryan Curran bagged the only goal of the game to within eight points of the league leaders with a game in hand.

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It was a tight game at Solitude, although Joe Gormley had earlier missed a penalty, and it took a top injury-time save from Richard Brush to seal it. Larne's Harry Flowers looked for a late leveller but the stopper somehow earned the three points in the sixth minute of stoppage time.

Coleraine 3-0 Warrenpoint Town

Coleraine are just three points off the top of the table after Ben Doherty's double helped the hosts to a win at the Showgrounds.

It took the Bannsiders 23 minutes to get going as midfielder Doherty converted the opener from a penalty spot after Neda Maciulaitis had been brought down in the box.

Fresh from their first points of the season last week, Point had it all to do by the break as Eoin Bradley doubled the lead with a curling free-kick from the edge of the area.

Doherty rounded off the scoring late on when he netted the rebound after his second penalty of the day was saved by Berraat Turker.

Dungannon Swifts 1-4 Linfield

Linfield bounced back to winning ways as a Kirk Millar doubled helped David Healy's men to success at Stangmore Park.

Andy Waterworth opened the scores early doors and had Joel Cooper to thank after the winger burst down the left and smashed a low cross to lay on an unmissable chance for the star striker.

Kirk Millar doubled the scored on 25 minutes with a delightful lob over Niall Morgan, who once again answered the Dungannon distress call after regular stopper Sam Johnston missed out through injury.

Cooper got a deserved goal of his own to all-but end the game and Millar even added the fourth of a convincing 45 minute's work by the Blues.

Daniel Hughes pulled a second half goal back for the hosts but it did  little to take the shine off a bright afternoon for Linfield.

Glentoran 3-1 Carrick Rangers

Glentoran are up to fifth after a comeback win over Carrick at the Oval.

The visitors started brightly and, after Caolan Loughran drove a long-range effort off the crossbar, they opened the scoring when Guillaume Keke got on the end of Stewart Nixon's long throw and netted his first goal since signing from French side Versailles.

It was to prove only a short-term set-back as the Glens were level four minutes later. New signing Navid Nesseri combined with star man Hrvoje Plum to feed in McDaid for his fifth league goal of the season.

At the start of the second half, Glentoran delivered the telling blows, first when Plum converted a penalty after McDaid was fouled and then when the striker netted his second of the day after seizing on a sliced clearance.

Scottish Challenge Cup: Raith Rovers 3-1 Glenavon

Glenavon exited the Scottish Challenge Cup after a defeat to their League One hosts.

Kieron Bowie gave the hosts an early advantage but Glenavon hit back through Rhys Marshall as he made the most of the hosts' defensive confusion.

The Lurgan Blues couldn't make it to the break on level terms as Daniel Armstrong restored the advantage shortly after the half-hour mark. Lewis Allan would then make sure of the win in second-half injury-time.

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