Belfast Telegraph

Irish League Round Up: Owens and McCauley the heroes as Crusaders and Coleraine stay level on points at the top

Crusaders' Jordan Owens (left) and Coleraine's Darren McCauley (right) were the goal-scoring heroes on Saturday.
Crusaders' Jordan Owens (left) and Coleraine's Darren McCauley (right) were the goal-scoring heroes on Saturday.
Crusaders' Jordan Owens celebrates giving his side the lead against Linfield. Photo Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker Press
Darren McCauley.
Crusaders' Jordan Owens celebrates giving his side the lead against Linfield. Photo Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker Press
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Crusaders and Coleraine will go into the season's penultimate weekend level on points at the top.

That's after Jordan Owens struck twice to help the leaders down Linfield while Darren McCauley's spectacular shot earned Coleraine a 1-0 win over derby rivals Ballymena United.

Elswhere, Glenavon went back above Linfield into third and Ballinamallard crept closer to second-bottom Carrick Rangers.

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

Crusaders 2-0 Linfield

The Crues got back to winning ways thanks to Owens' clinicial double at Seaview.

The striker opened the scoring with his 16th league goal of the season, lashing high into the net after a flowing move. Michael Carvill's neat pass set BJ Burns away on the right and the cross flew to the clinical striker who controlled before finishing well.

Linfield had their fair share of chances during a lively first half but Stephen Fallon was twice stopped by Brian Jensen, who also saved an Andy Waterworth strike at the bottom corner shortly before the break.

Crusaders created opportunities to seal the win but the best, a close range effort from Owens, was acrobatically denied by Roy Carroll.

That kept the hosts at bay until 87 minutes when Owens nodded home an inch-perfect cross from BJ Burns.

There was still time for Linfield's Andrew Mitchell to earn a straight red card for a challenge on Jamie Glackin.

Coleraine 1-0 Ballymena United

Coleraine ensured they stay beind only on goal difference with a tight derby win at the Showgrounds.

The Bannsiders were made to wait until almost the hour-mark for the breakthrough against their rivals. When it arrived, it was worth the delay as winger Darren McCauley dispatched an unstoppable effort into the top corner for his 17th goal of the season.

The win was secured when Chris Johns made a top drawer save from Steven McAlorum late in the match.

The league's second-placed side, however, will be without Josh Carson for their trip to Linfield next week as he was sent off late in the game.

Cliftonville 1-3 Glenavon

Glenavon leapfrogged Linfield back into third place after an action-packed second half at Solitude.

That third place could be all-important as it would be enough to secure a Europa League spot without the rigour of the play-offs if Coleraine win the Irish Cup.

Fans at Solitude were made to wait over an hour for the opening goal then four arrived inside eight minutes.

It began when Andy McGrory smashed home a typically clinical penalty after Jamie McGovern brought down Joel Cooper, earning a red card for his troubles.

It was two when Andrew Mitchell lashed home a well-struck effort and even after Joe Gormley hit back with his 30th of the season, Mitchell doubled his tally, volleying in Mark Sykes' pass.

Warrenpoint 1-0 Glentoran

Lordan Forde's late winner sends Warrenpoint up to 30 points for the season. Glentoran have all but cemented seventh spot in the table, and the play-off place that comes with it, nine points clear of Dungannon and Ards with a better goal difference, those teams having three games left to play.

Ballinamallard 2-2 Dungannon Swifts

Basement Ballinamallard climbed to within a point of Carrick Rangers with this hard-earned point.

Dungannon had an early goal chalked off for offside and within a minute, Stephen O'Flynn had bagged the opener. It came from Shane McGinty's cross to put the Mallards ahead in the quest for a second successive Premiership win for the first time since February last year.

The Swifts were level by the break, and in strange circumstances. Seanan Clucas' cross bounced over Richard Brush with Ally Teggart claiming his touch was the one that bundled the ball over the line.

It got worse for the basement side on 61 when Daniel Hughes put the Swifts ahead but that lead lasted only a few minutes as Mallards top scorer Ryan Curran shot home off the crossbar.

Carrick Rangers 0-1 Ards

Carrick slip closer to the bottom after this narrow defeat.

Michael McLellan blasted in a blow to Carrick's quest for survival on the stroke of half-time, his effort finding the back of the net via the upright.

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