Belfast Telegraph

Irish League Round Up: Ten goals and two hat-tricks in Institute thriller as Ballymena extend lead at the top

Institute's Michael McCrudden
Institute's Michael McCrudden

Institute and Cliftonville played out a contender for game of the season at the Brandywell.

Elsewhere, there were wins for league leading Ballymena, Coleraine and Crusaders as second placed Linfield and third placed Glenavon played out a draw at Windsor Park.

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

Institute 6-4 Cliftonville

There were 10 goals and two hat-tricks in arguably the game of the season at the Brandywell.

Michael McCrudden scored three for Institute and Rory Donnelly repeated the feat for the visitors while Cliftonville keeper Brian Neeson saw red at 3-3 just moments after Donnelly had missed a penalty at the other end.

McCrudden's first of the day opened the scoring, converting a lay-off from strike partner Joe McCready.

Donnelly levelled from Steven Garrett's cross soon after but McCready then controlled a Jake Morrow cross to restore the hosts' advantage.

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It was doubled by the break when McCready latched onto Ronan Doherty's through ball and converted.

Whatever Reds boss Barry Gray said at half-time, it worked wonders as they were level within 10 minutes.

Donnelly netted Joe Gormley's cross before it was provider turned scorer as Joe headed in Ryan Curran's left-wing delivery.

The real drama was only just beginning as Rory Donnelly saw a penalty saved before Stute raced up the pitch to win a spot-kick of their own, Reds keeper Brian Neeson sent off in the process.

McCrudden didn't repeat Donnelly's miss, beating stand-in stopper Jamie Harney before setting up McCready to make it 5-3.

As if that all wasn't good enough for McCrudden, his 14th goal of the season and fourth of the day added insult to the Reds' injury.

There was at least a small consolation for Rory Donnelly, who completed his hat-trick that proved fruitless as Stute saw out the win.

Linfield 0-0 Glenavon

It was an enjoyable, open game at Windsor Park despite the scoreless draw.

Both teams had their chances but it was the defences that came out on top.

Linfield had the crossbar to thank for keeping Andy Hall's corner out as it swung towards goal. Glenavon could have taken the lead later in the half but Andrew Mitchell could only volley over before Stephen Murray's shot was saved by Roy Carroll when it looped down towards the top corner.

The best chance of the game fell to the visitors in the second half but Stephen Fallon was on hand to clear Caolan Marron's header off the line.

For the hosts, Man of the Match Joel Cooper volleyed over, Andy Waterworth went one better only to be beaten by the offside flag and Jimmy Callacher headed onto the roof of the net.

It's as you were in second and third, although Ballymena now have daylight between themselves and the chasing pack.

Ballymena United 2-0 Ards

Ballymena stretched their lead at the top of the table to four points with a home win.

It was league leaders against basement battlers at the Showgrounds and the hosts and no problems in seeing off the underdogs.

They were two up by the break, even though James Knowles had missed a penalty. Leroy Millar's header opened the scoring and played a huge role in the second, winning possession and beating Callum Byers to assist Jude Winchester.

Coleraine 2-1 Dungannon Swifts

Coleraine are 10 points clear of seventh placed Glentoran, having played a game more, after a narrow win at the Showgrounds.

Darren McCauley's inch-perfect penalty opened the scores as it flew into the top corner before James McLaughlin's first Premiership goal in a year and eight months made it two.

Daniel Hughes gave Dungannon hope on 61 minutes but Rod McAree's men held on to beat the boss' former side.

Crusaders 3-1 Warrenpoint Town

Crusaders leap-frogged rivals Cliftonville to go third at Seaview and within two points of second-placed Glenavon.

The Crues were kept waiting until the second half to find the breakthrough and when it arrived, they got two in three minutes.

Philip Lowry first headed home from a corner before David Cushley's low shot had the hosts two up on 55. Fra McCaffrey gave Town hope but Ross Clarke restored the two goal lead with the final kick.

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