Irish League Round Up: McCready wins tight clash for Coleraine as Mitchell inspires Glenavon rout
It's as you were at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership as both Coleraine and Glenavon earned three points.
Joe McCready sealed a narrow win for the leading Bannsiders to keep them five clear of Glenavon, who eased to a 4-0 win over Ballymena United.
Cliftonville 1-2 Coleraine
Joe McCready's first Premiership goal for Coleraine sealed the points in a close-fought game at Solitude.
The striker put in a bustling performance and converted the all-important goal three minutes into the second half, slotting home after Jamie McGonigle's effort was blocked.
Coleraine centre-half David Ogilby opened the scoring with a curling free-kick that nestled into the bottom corner on 10 minutes. The league leaders were showing their class on the attack and it took a top class save from Brian Neeson to keep them out when Jamie McGonigle's reverse pass teed up Darren McAuley for a stinging effort that the keeper was at full stretch to save.
Neeson got his reward three minutes later when Rory Donnelly slid home his third goal in two games to level the scores after being afforded too much space from a troublesome corner.
McCready's eventual winner was a deserved clinical finish and afterwards, the Reds pushed for an equaliser but couldn't beat Chris Johns. Rory Donnelly saw a couple of headers fly off target, the dangerous Jay Donnelly blasted an effort narrowly wide and both Joe Donnelly and Garry Breen forced close-range stops.
There was time for Liam Bagnall to be dismissed for a second yellow to seal a frustrating afternoon for the hosts, who also saw two second-half penalty claims turned down.
Glenavon 4-0 Ballymena United
All the action came in the first half at Mourneview Park but by then the points were safe.
The Ballymena United twitter account reported that fans were on their way out of the ground before the half-time whistle was blown. It's little wonder really - their team were four behind at the break and down to ten men.
They had Andrew Mitchell to blame for a lot of their woes as Glenavon's in-form striker netted the first two goals. Goalkeeper Conor Brennan didn't cover himself in glory for the first but the second was a piece of brilliance, rocketing into the bottom corner from 25 yards.
Bobby Burns dispossessed Michael Gault and slotted home the third before Andy Hall raised the bar with a long-range free-kick that blasted past Brennan. Hall's strike really rubbed salt in the wounds as Ballymena were by then down to 10 men, Kyle Owens issued with a straight red card.
Ballinamallard 2-0 Carrick Rangers
The Mallards picked up their first win of the Premiership season to close the gap on second-bottom Warrenpoint to just three points.
Matthew Smyth bagged the first goal of the day when he converted Ross Taheny's header just six minutes in.
Jonathan Leddy drove in the second from 30 yards and by half-time, the basement side's first win of the campaign was in sight.
Carrick are now only five points off the bottom and their afternoon got even worse in the second half when Mark Edgar was given a straight red.
Dungannon Swifts 0-2 Glentoran
As Glenavon and the Mallards had done earlier in the day, Glentoran inflicted the damage during the first half of their 5.30pm kick-off.
Curtis Allen slotted home the opener with the very first shot of the evening and Calum Birney scrambled in the second soon after. From there, the Glens rarely looked like giving up their advantage as they drew level with third placed Linfield on 21 points.
Linfield v Crusaders (Monday 7.45pm)
Ards 2-1 Warrenpoint Town (Friday)
Guillaume Keke wrapped up all three points for Ards at the Bangor Fuels Arena with a 90th-minute winner.
Warrenpoint Town held the lead for much of the game thanks to an early Darren Murray strike, but second-half goals from teenager Jonah Mitchell and French striker Keke gave Ards an invaluable win.
Belfast Telegraph Digital