Irish Premiership: Crusaders now 10 clear after win over struggling Carrick Rangers

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Crusaders edge closer to title with victory over Carrick Rangers

Crusaders extended their Premiership lead to 10 points thanks to a facile 3-0 win over struggling Carrick Rangers.

With Linfield not in action until Monday against Cliftonville, goals from Philip Lowry, Jordan Owens and Billy Joe Burns secured Crusaders' home win.

Coleraine are now only a point behind third-placed Cliftonville after beating Glentoran 2-0.

Glenavon secured a top-six finish by beating Dungannon 2-0 while Ballymena United beat 10-man Portadown 3-0.

Champions cruise to Seaview win

Only an heroic display by Carrick keeper Brian Neeson prevented the champions from hitting a cricket score at Seaview.

The Antrim GAA player made five superb early stops before Lowry struck the Crues ahead on 19 minutes with a close-range shot that Neeson will probably feel he should have stopped.

Tzee Mustapha's introduction did spur Carrick to improve but the Rangers substitute missed a chance to level after a poor Sean O'Neill clearance before Owens doubled Crusaders' advantage with a header.

Neeson, who had made further great saves early in the second half, protested that Owens' header hadn't crossed the line but referee Lee Tavinder awarded the goal.

With recalled Richard Clarke impressing in the Crues midfield, Burns sealed the champions' victory as he produced an accomplished finish from a tight angle.

Clarke's late missed penalty, as Neeson saved the weak effort, mattered little as far as the champions were concerned.

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Coleraine ease past lowly Glentoran at the Showgrounds

Coleraine extend unbeaten run to 11 games

Coleraine didn't have to get out of third gear to see off a disappointing Glentoran at the Showgrounds.

Eoin Bradley put the Bannsiders ahead from a 17th-minute penalty after he had been brought down in the area by Marcus Kane.

Steven Gordon clipped the Coleraine woodwork in the first half with Kane also having a header cleared off the line by his namesake Lyndon Kane, but the home side looked the more threatening for the most part.

Jamie McGonigle's seventh goal in as many games doubled Coleraine's advantage midway through the second half after a fine cross by Ciaron Harkin while Glentoran's misery was completed by Eric Foley's late dismissal for dissent.

Glenavon guarantee top-six spot

Glenavon guaranteed their top-six spot as first-half goals from David Elebert and James Gray secured a comfortable win over a labouring Dungannon Swifts outfit.

Elebert nodded in Glenavon's opener on 12 minutes after a James Singleton header had come back off the Dungannon crossbar.

The second goal came some 15 minutes later as Gray netted from close range after a Joel Cooper volley had been blocked following good work by Guy Bates.

Glenavon-bound striker Andrew Mitchell headed a great Dungannon chance over the crossbar when the scoreline was 1-0 and also had an effort saved by Jonny Tuffey in the second half.

Ballymena ease to win over doomed Portadown

After having the bulk of the chances in the first half, Ballymena took the lead on 50 minutes against Portadown as Michael Kerr tapped into the net after a Johnny McMurray cross.

Recalled centre-half Johnny Flynn doubled Ballymena's lead just before the hour mark as he nodded home a Tony Kane corner.

Portadown's afternoon went from bad to worse as defender Ken Oman was sent off for an off-the-ball kick on Ballymena's Flynn and Kane rounded off the home win with a 77th-minute penalty.

Ballymena remain fifth in the table, two points behind fourth-placed neighbours Coleraine and a further point back from Cliftonville.

Danske Bank Irish Premiership - Saturday, 11 March
Ballymena Utd3-0Portadown
Coleraine2-0Glentoran
Crusaders3-0Carrick Rangers
Glenavon2-0Dungannon Swifts

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