Belfast Telegraph

Irish League Round Up: Crusaders penalty save sets up last gasp glory as ten-man Linfield deny Reds to stay top

By Gareth Hanna

Crusaders snatched the most dramatic of victories at Warrenpoint Town on Saturday afternoon while a late Linfield equaliser at Cliftonville kept the Blues clear at the top.

There was also a win for Glentoran, adding to successes for Glenavon and Ards on Friday evening.

Here's all you need to know about the weekend's action:

Warrenpoint Town 1-2 Crusaders

Crusaders snatched the most dramatic of victories at Milltown with a winning goal arriving in injury-time, shortly after Sean O'Neill had saved a Point penalty.

O'Neill stopped Mark Griffin's penalty in the last minute before substitute Philip Lowry stole the points, converting David Cushley's corner.

Warrenpoint had taken a surprise lead through debutant Maxim Kouogun. The Cameroonian defender blasted in a 38th minute header but it was cancelled out in first-half stoppage time as Jordan Owens nodded in from a corner-kick.

Owens hit the bar with another header in the second half before the drama arrived in the closing stages.

Cliftonville 1-1 Linfield

Ten-man Linfield fought to earn a deserved share of the spoils at Solitude an go a point clear of Glenavon at the top of the table.

The Blues finally lost their 100% record but it had all been uphill for the visitors from 26 minutes on. That's because captain Jamies Mulgrew was given a straight red card for a studs-up challenge on the Reds' Jay Donnelly.

Donnelly himself missed a great chance to open the scores at the start of the season half, heading wide from close range, before Joe Gormley finally opened the scoring, heading in Donnelly's cross on 72.

That was the first goal the Blues have conceded this season but Healy's side showed their fighting character, levelling through Michael O'Connor on 86. The striker converted Andrew Mitchell's cross after good work from the skilful Daniel Kearns.

Glentoran 2-1 Dungannon Swifts

Glentoran sealed their second win of the season despite an unconvincing display at The Oval.

The first-half was largely dominated by the Swifts but any form of attacking quality arrived at the other end, enough to see the Glens two up by the break.

Calum Birney opened the scoring just three minutes in, touching home Marcus Kane's low drive and while Dungannon penned the hosts into their own half for the next half hour, a Jarlaith O'Rourke shot over was the closest they came to threatening.

They were further punished when striker extraordinaire Curtis Allen bulletted home a header, his third goal of the season, from a tantalising Dylan Davidson cross.

Chris Hegarty's looping header gave his side hope on 86 as he converted Mark Patton's corner but the visitors couldn't find an equaliser, despite continuing to enjoy the lion's share of possession.

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Glentoran's Curtis Allen pictured after scoring against Dungannon at the Oval.

Glenavon 4-0 Ballymena United (Friday)

Glenavon made it three wins it a row with an entertaining second half display to punish 10-man Ballymena.

The hosts opened the scoring on the hour-mark with a flowing move. The classy Mark Sykes slipped a through ball to Rhys Marshall and his cut-back to Aaron Harmon allowed the midfielder to slam home his first goal for his new club.

Josh Daniels made it two with a delightful looping header on the end of Dylan King's free-kick.

Half-time substitute Stephen Murray had transformed Glenavon's play and got his just rewards when he calmly took down Daniels' ball and smashed in the third.

Quality play from Daniels on the left then teed up Andy Hall to convert the fourth.

Ballymena had enjoyed the lion's share of the first half before the sending off, Matthew Shevlin seeing an effort cleared off the line by Andrew Mitchell.

Ballymena went down to 10 men in the final minute of the first half, Andrew Burns shown a straight red for a studs up challenge on Mark Sykes, although the visitors felt aggrieved by referee Steven Gregg's decision.

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Glenavon's Stephen Murray impressed after coming on at half-time.

Coleraine 2-2 Institute (Friday)

Coleraine and Institute played out a tipsy-tie to 2-2 draw at the Showgrounds.

The newly-promoted visitors took a surprise half-time lead when Dean Curry headed in Gareth Brown's cross on 40 minutes.

Jamie McGonigle provided the equaliser with his 50th Coleraine goal, converting Stephen Lowry's ball.

Brad Lyons put the Bannsiders ahead, nodding home Aaron Traynor's cross but a Michael McCrudden penalty earned the visitors a draw.

Ards 4-0 Newry City (Friday)

Colin Nixon's men got their first points of the season with a convincing win over the newly promoted Newry City.

Mark Kelly netted the opener for his second in two games and soon provided the assist for Jonny Frazer to put the hosts two ahead.

It was three by the end of the half, Kym Nelson curling a free-kick into the top corner.

Ards stopper Sam Johnston made sure he held on to his clean sheet, saving a second half penalty from Stephen Hughes.

And Frazer completed a top evening's work with his second of the game to round off the scoring.

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