Belfast Telegraph

Linfield go top as Glenavon hit unwanted landmark: Five talking points from Saturday's Irish League games

Linfield goal-scorer Chris Casement celebrates with Shayne Lavery.
Linfield goal-scorer Chris Casement celebrates with Shayne Lavery.

It was another dramatic day in the Irish League on Saturday.

Here are some of the main talking points:

1. Linfield top to stay?

It has taken until December but finally David Healy's Linfield have hit top spot in the Danske Bank Premiership.

They've been playing catch-up since their Europa League campaign caused a few suspensions early in the season but their narrow 1-0 win over Cliftonville at Windsor Park, care of Chris Casement's goal, has seen the Blues climb above Coleraine on goal difference.

It's a tightly packed title race, with Crusaders and Cliftonville both a point behind and Glentoran are just five points off the top.

The extra plus for Healy's men, though, is that they've still got two games in hand on the chasing back.

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2. Larne end corner pain

According to Larne chairman Gareth Clements, it had been over a year since they netted from a corner kick.

That was until Saturday afternoon when they arrived at Mourneview Park. In a devastating five minute period, they netted twice from corners. Centre-halves Harry Flowers and Albert Watson both rose at the near post to score their first league goals of the season, both from telling Marty Donnelly deliveries.

"We've been working on it," admitted Watson.

"I'd say that's a true fact (that it had been over a year since the last goal from a corner). I know I scored in a cup game earlier in the season but we should be scoring more from those sort of situations and I should be scoring more. I've set myself that challenge and hopefully we can do it more often over the next run of games."

3. Glenavon hit unwanted landmark

The Lurgan Blues still have another 21 league games to play between now and the end of the season.

But already, with just 17 matches under their belt, Gary Hamilton's side have conceded as many goals as they did in the entirety of the 18/19 campaign.

The went down 3-0 to Larne on Saturday, taking their defensive record to 46 goals conceded.

It's little wonder they're six places down on the third spot they finished the last campaign in.

Now 10 points off the top six, it looks like a first season in the bottom half since 15/16.

4. Carrick keep top six battle alive

While Glenavon all but fell out of the challenge for a top six challenge, Carrick Rangers made sure this wasn't the day the two sections were decided.

Niall Currie's newly-promoted side secured a 3-0 win over Institute to take their current run to five wins from their last eight league games.

They're still just six points behind their near neighbours Larne after claiming their seventh win of the campaign.

Not bad for the side who hadn't even thought to target promotion last season.

5. Portadown keep promotion bid on track

Currie could well be going toe-to-toe with one of his old side once again next season. Portadown kept their Championship campaign on track on Saturday afternoon with a 2-1 home win over Ards.

Young strike duo Adam Salley and Lee Bonis were the men with the goals to keep the Ports six points clear at the top of the table.

It looks already like a three horse race for the title, with Ballinamallard in second and Portadown's local rivals Loughgall a eight behind but with a game in hand.

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