Irish Premiership: Crusaders and Linfield win as Portadown are relegated

Jordan Owens celebrates with goalscorer Paul Heatley after the Crues go in front at Seaview
Jordan Owens celebrates with goalscorer Paul Heatley after the Crues go in front at Seaview

Premierships leaders Crusaders stayed a point clear of Linfield after wins for the top two while Portadown were relegated following a defeat at Ards.

Crues duo Jordan Owens and Paul Heatley (2) netted in a 3-2 comeback victory over Coleraine while Linfield eased to a 3-0 home win against Glenavon.

Portadown needed a win to maintain hopes of staying up but they lost 3-2.

Ballymena thumped Cliftonville 4-1, Dungannon beat the Mallards by the same score and Glentoran edged Carrick 2-1.

Tuesday night's Premiership action as it happened

Crusaders fought back to beat Cliftonville on Saturday and the champions repeated the feat in a pulsating game at Seaview.

A superb 30-yard strike from James McLaughlin put the Bannsiders in front but the hosts were soon level as Owens netted from Paul Heatley's cross.

At the second attempt

Heatley made it 2-1 it five minutes before the break, firing a volley into the bottom corner after his initial attempt was saved by Chris Johns, and the winger added another in the second half.

Jamie McGonigle fizzed a shot into the bottom corner to set up a tense finale but the Crues held on for a vital win while bringing Coleraine's unbeaten run of 17 games to an end.

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Crusaders beat Bannsiders to stay top of Premiership

Crusaders will win the Gibson Cup for a third straight season if they pick up maximum points from their final two games.

"I thought we dominated from start to finish, but they changed their shape a bit and began to pass the ball better, as they tend to do because Coleraine are a top side," said Crues boss Stephen Baxter.

"But sometimes you have to get a job done and that's what we did - I told the players a couple of weeks ago we had to step it up and we've had a real crack at it over the last two games. I have to be happy with that."

Linfield brushed aside Glenavon with three first-half goals as they maintained the pressure on the champions.

Aaron Burns slotted home a penalty, after Andrew Waterworth was fouled by keeper Jonathan Tuffey, and Mark Haughey headed in before a fine finish from Paul Smyth.

Delight for Blues defender Mark Haughey after he scores against former club Glenavon
Delight for Blues defender Mark Haughey after he scores against former club Glenavon

The other match in Section A saw Johnny McMurray's double helping Ballymena to an impressive Showgrounds win over the Reds.

The forward made it 2-0 after a Kyle Owens opener and Stephen Garrett pulled one back before Cathal Friel and McMurray goals sealed the three points.

It was a bleak night for Portadown, who needed to beat Ards and for Carrick to lose to continue their battle against the drop.

Ards go two clear

Davy McAllister gave Ards an early lead and Garry Breen headed in an equaliser before Matthew Shevlin and Guillaume Keke scored for the hosts.

Ards defender Stuart McMullan was sent-off for a foul that resulted in a penalty, which Callum Ferris converted, and Ports midfielder Sean Mackle was dismissed for dissent.

"I honestly believed we had a chance but I think tonight tells its own story because we had that many kids helping us out in a relegation dogfight," said Portadown manager Niall Currie.

"It's been a very unhappy time at the club for a long time, if I'm honest, but I'm lucky to have these supporters with me. A total rebuild is needed at the club."

Carrick are confirmed in the relegation play-off spot - TJ Murray gave the hosts a second-half lead at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena before Jonathan Smith and Curtis Allen struck for the Glens.

Dungannon remained three points clear in seventh, which secures a Europa League play-off place, thanks to a comfortable win over Ballinamallard at Ferney Park.

Ryan Harpur put the Swifts in front and Warner Mullen's equaliser was followed by an Andy Mitchell double and Douglas Wilson header.

Danske Bank Irish Premiership - Tuesday 18 April
Ballymena Utd4-1Cliftonville
Crusaders3-2Coleraine
Linfield 3-0Glenavon
Ards3-2Portadown
Ballinamallard Utd1-4Dungannon Swifts
Carrick Rangers1-2Glentoran

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