Irish Premiership: Crusaders back top as Linfield are held by Dungannon

Colin Coates rises highest to head Crusaders' winner against Portadown
Colin Coates headed Crusaders' winner against Portadown

Crusaders beat Portadown to move back to the top of the Irish Premiership as Linfield were held by Dungannon Swifts.

Howard Beverland's sixth-minute own goal gave the Ports the lead at Seaview but he atoned by levelling on 20 before Colin Coates' headed winner on 53.

Linfield failed to join the Crues on 11 points as Mark Haughey's header was cancelled out by Kris Lowe's goal.

Cliftonville ended a two-game losing run with an unconvincing 2-1 win over 10-man Ballinamallard United.

Darren Murray put the Reds ahead on 32 minutes shortly after Ballinamallard's Liam Flatley had received a straight red card for a challenge on Jason McGuinness.

The home side levelled in first-half injury-time as Adam Lecky poked home after Reds keeper Jason Mooney had dropped a cross.

A Ryan McConnell own goal restored Cliftonville's advantage before Jason McCartney missed a 78th-minute Ballinamallard penalty.

Howard Beverland, Philip Lowry, Colin Coates and Jordan Owens
Crusaders now lead Glenavon and Ards by a point at the top of the table

Champions graft out win over Ports

Crusaders were far from their best against Portadown but were still deserving winners at Seaview.

The Crues started at a high tempo with Gavin Whyte blazing wide an immediate chance but were shocked on six minutes as former Coleraine man Beverland headed a Mark Carson cross past his own keeper O'Neill.

Beverland was on the scoresheet at the other end 14 minutes later as he looped a header over a flat-footed David Miskelly.

The Ports keeper was possibly at fault for the equaliser but he made two great saves before the break to deny Michael Carvill as the home side dominated.

Coates was left totally unmarked to emphatically head a Carvill corner past Miskelly in the 53rd minute but the home side were unconvincing for most of the remainder of the contest.

Crusaders did produce some late pressure as Philip Lowry somehow steered wide after Miskelly had denied Jordan Owens before the Ports keeper beat away a fierce Whyte free-kick.

In injury-time, Portadown had a penalty shout turned down as referee Tim Marshall waved aside claims that Michael Gault had handled.

Kris Lowe celebrates after equalising for Dungannon Swifts at Windsor Park
Kris Lowe's equaliser earned Dungannon a merited point at Windsor Park

Linfield frustrated by dogged Dungannon

Dungannon Swifts were full value for their point at Windsor Park and almost snatched victory late on as Roy Carroll had to save with his legs to deny Alan Teggart after the keeper's own poor clearance.

Linfield manager David Healy was scathing about his team's efforts in what he described as an "unacceptable performance".

"We didn't play well enough, didn't move the ball quickly enough, didn't create chances and were defensively poor," said Healy.

"Dungannon worked harder than us and wanted a positive result more than we did. We didn't show enough quality to break them down. We had no spark and no creativity."

Mark Haughey headed the Blues into the lead on 38 minutes as he connected with a Josh Carson corner but Kris Lowe was able to tap in an equaliser just after the restart after a superb run and cross by Andy Mitchell.

Blues boss Healy introduced midweek signing Kris Bright, Paul Smyth and Ross Gaynor in the second half but the trio made little impact.

Swifts manager Rodney McAree was delighted with his team's display.

"We were brave, tried to keep our foot on the ball and a lot of credit must go to our players for being as confident as they were," said McAree.

"We had a plan, kept our shape and gave the players a chance to express themselves."

Cliftonville's Levi Ives is challenged by Ballinamallard's Ryan Mayse
Cliftonville got back to winning ways against Ballinamallard at Ferney Park

Reds huff and puff in Ballinamallard win

Cliftonville manager Gerard Lyttle's main emotion was relief after his team had to work hard to overcome 10-man Ballinamallard United at Ferney Park.

"We didn't use the pitch to our full capabilities. (But) This result gives us something to build on at least," said Lyttle after his side's 2-1 victory.

Ballinamallard, who now have only one point from their opening five games, competed well throughout despite Flatley's 27th-minute dismissal.

Murray put the Reds ahead five minutes after Flatley's departure but the Mallards were on terms in first-half injury-time as Cliftonville keeper Mooney's dash to field the ball on the edge of the box saw him dropping the ball to the feet of the grateful Lecky, who made no mistake.

With midfielder Shane McCabe marshalling Ballinamallard superbly, Cliftonville appeared to be running out of the ideas in the second half but they got the break they needed on 65 minutes as the unlucky McConnell header a cross from Reds substitute Chris Curran into his own net.

Ballinamallard were then presented with a glorious chance to equalise for a second time but McCartney appeared to be out-psyched by the sight of giant Reds keeper Mooney as he steered the penalty wide after a stuttering run-up.

Danske Bank Irish Premiership
Ballinamallard 1-2Cliftonville
Crusaders2-1Portadown
Linfield1-1Dungannon Swifts

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