Irish League roundup: Linfield beat Glenavon as Glentoran fall to Cliftonville on opening day of season
We roundup all today's results as the Irish League returns with a bang.
Linfield held on at Mourneview Park to record an opening 1-0 win over Glenavon thanks to Daniel Kearns’ first half strike.
The new signing scored the only goal of the game as an impressive defensive effort in the second half kept the hosts quiet and ensured a clean sheet for the Blues in their opening game.
It looked like the scoring would be opened after just six minutes when Chris Casement handled a Stephen Murray shot in the box, however striker Andrew Mitchell blazed the penalty over for Glenavon.
Linfield had a goal chalked off when Jimmy Callacher slammed home a header from a free kick in an offside position, but the visitors did take the lead in the 30th minute when Niall Grace only partially cleared another free kick and Daniel Kearns turned it home from six yards.
Mark Sykes should have equalised ten minutes before the interval when the ball broke to him completely unmarked in the box, but his weak shot was straight at Roy Carroll.
Linfield should have had a second when Andy Waterworth capitalised on a mistake from Jonny Tuffey to go around the keeper, but Caolan Marron recovered brilliantly to block it in the line, while Mark Sykes just sent a lob wide at the other end.
Carroll produced two superb stops to deny Sykes and Andrew Doyle from long range, but the best save came in injury time to ensure the three points as his fingertips denied Jordan Jenkins to seal the win.
Newry City 0
Institute made a winning return to the Danske Bank Premiership as they defeated Newry City 1-0 at the Brandywell courtesy of captain Michael McCrudden.
The honour of first goal of the new season went to Institute skipper McCrudden who, against the run of play, took the ball between two defenders in the box and drilled the ball home after just 17 minutes.
Both sides had great chances in the second half to score, McCrudden coming closest for ‘Stute with another opportunity but ultimately the Derrymen held on for the three points.
Jay Donnelly’s injury time winner completed an impressive comeback for Cliftonville as they won a Belfast derby against Glentoran 2-1 at The Oval.
Having controlled most of the game, it was a fair result for Barry Gray’s men, who open their account for the season with an important away win.
Despite Cliftonville having the better of the first half an hour, it was the hosts who stole the lead, Dylan Davidson going down the wing, and his ball into the middle found Marcus Kane, who in turn set John McGuigan through to score.
The Reds continued to have the better of the game, however, and although it took a while, the equaliser arrived in the 71st minute when Joe Gormley found the back of the net to tie the scores.
And there was late drama at the death as Donnelly popped up in injury time for the visitors and found a winner, his deflected effort from the edge of the box beating Elliott Morris and handing Gray’s men an opening win.
Warrenpoint Town 0
Last season’s runners up Coleraine began their campaign with a 3-0 win over Warrenpoint Town at the Showgrounds thanks to goals from Ian Parkhill, Stephen Lowry and Eoin Bradley.
Oran Kearney’s boys were on top for most of the game as they underlined their title credentials despite missing 10 players from their squad, although it wasn’t a classic in the early stages of the game.
Indeed, it took 38 minutes for the first real chance and it resulted in a goal, Seanna Foster losing the ball in midfield and when Josh Carson crossed to Lowry, his shot was saved only for Parkhill to score the rebound.
Lowry may have been denied a debut goal on that occasion, but he wouldn’t be denied a second time, the former Linfield man slipped through by Bradley and doubling the Bannsiders’ lead on the stroke of half time.
And it only got better for Kearney’s men after the restart as they added a third, Jonny Parr misjudging a ball into the box from Carson and that allowed Bradley to slide home, before Darren McCauley had a further effort ruled out for offside.
Warrenpoint had plenty of chances to pull back a goal, with Chris Johns palming a Fra McCaffrey free kick onto his own crossbar, but Coleraine saw out the game comfortably to start the season in perfect fashion.
Dungannon Swifts 0
Ballymena United 2
BALLYMENA United opened their Danske Bank Premiership account with a 2-0 win on the road at ten man Dungannon Swifts.
It took half an hour for the deadlock to be broken, and it went to the visitors as Steven McCullough hit a sublime ball through to Willie Faulkner, and the midfielder opened the scoring with a delicious lob over the keeper.
Ten minutes after the restart and the Sky Blues had two, former Swift Ryan Mayse hauled down inside the box by Chris Hegarty and Tony Kane duly converted to double the visitors’ lead.
And things only got worse for the hosts when Hegarty received his marching orders midway through the second period, the defender receiving his second yellow card of the afternoon, and that allowed David Jeffrey’s side to hold out in comfort.
Belfast Telegraph Digital