Belfast Telegraph

Irish League Round Up: Lecky and Friel both bag braces as Ballymena close gap on leaders Linfield

Ballymena's Adam Lecky netted twice as his side kept up the pressure at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership.
Ballymena's Adam Lecky netted twice as his side kept up the pressure at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership.
Ballymena are back within three points of league leaders Linfield. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Crusaders' Ronan Hale celebrates his debut goal. Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press
Crusaders' Rory Patterson scores his side's second at the Brandywell. Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 26/01/2019 Cliftonville v Glenavon Danske Bank Premiership Cliftonville’s Ryan Curran scores against Glenavon’ during todays game at Solitude in Belfast. Photo Aidan O’Reilly / Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 26/01/2019 Cliftonville v Glenavon Danske Bank Premiership Cliftonville’s Ryan Curran scores against Glenavon’ during todays game at Solitude in Belfast. Photo Aidan O’Reilly / Pacemaker Press

Ballymena United are back to within three points of league leaders Linfield after a routine win over Ards at the Showgrounds.

Elsewhere, there were wins for Crusaders, Dungannon and Warrenpoint, while Cliftonville and Glenavon drew at Solitude.

Here's all you need to know about today's games:

Ballymena United 4-1 Ards

Ballymena halved the gap to Linfield and never looked like slipping up at home to the basement side.

Cathair Friel opened the scores after Kyle Cherry had denied James Knowles and it was two before the 15 minute mark as Adam Lecky rounded the keeper to convert.

Darren Henderson gave Ards hope in first half stoppage time but it was three at the start of the second half, United's two previous scorers combining as Friel crossed for Lecky to net.

Friel bagged a brace of his own when he got the final touch on a Stephen McCullough cross late on.

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Institute 1-3 Crusaders

It was a routine win for third placed Crusaders, who are now six points behind having played a game more.

Paul Heatley put the Crues ahead early on with his 14th Premiership goal of the season, blasting home from recent signing Ronan Hale's cross. Heatley turned provider for the second, his cross converted into the path of Rory Patterson to smash home.

Ronan Hale got his debut goal to make it three before the break, heading home from point blank range after that man Heatley's shot had been saved.

Stute hadn't scored in four matches and, on his return from suspension, it was no surprise that talismanic captain Michael McCrudden was the man to end the run, even if it was only a consolation.

Cliftonville 1-1 Glenavon

Ryan Curran bagged the first goal of the day, lightning quick reactions converting after Rory Donnelly's effort had been blocked by Seamus Sharkey.

Glenavon started the second half well and levelled through Stephen Murray, who slammed home from close range after a cross was headed down by Josh Daniels.

Coleraine 1-2 Dungannon Swifts

Paul McElroy put the visitors ahead on 32 minutes, smashing into the bottom corner after getting on the end of a telling through-ball but Oisin Smyth.

Coleraine were level just a couple of minutes later when Jamie McGonigle slotted home his ninth of the season. A slack first touch looked to have wasted a curling cross from Jamie Glackin but the striker recovered and blasted past Alex Moore.

Teenager Oisin Smyth bagged his second goal in three games to restore the Swifts' lead at the start of the second half. It was made by Paul McElroy's lung-busting run down the right and inch-perfect cross for Smyth in blast home a deflected shot.

Newry Town 0-2 Warrenpoint Town

Lee Duffy gave the visitors the lead in fine style midway through the first half. After bursting down the right wing, he cut in and found the bottom corner. It was two by the break, Alan O'Sullivan converting.

Linfield v Glentoran (Monday evening - kick-off 7.45pm)

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