Irish Premiership: Linfield 2-1 Ballinamallard

By Lyle JacksonBBC Sport
Linfield beat Ballinamallard at Windsor Park

Second-placed Linfield secured a vital victory over one-from-bottom Ballinamallard United and are now just two points behind leaders Crusaders.

A good pass by Sean Ward set up Blues striker Andrew Waterworth who shot past keeper Stefan McCusker for his 30th goal of the season in the 17th minute.

Linfield missed chances to extend their lead and Adam Leckey stabbed in a 57th-minute equaliser.

But seconds later United's Ryan Morris sliced in for a decisive own goal.

Linfield have had 11 wins and two draws in their last 14 Premiership fixtures
Linfield have had 11 wins and two draws in their last 14 Premiership fixtures

Luck deserts the Mallards

The own goal was a cruel way for Whitey Anderson's side to lose.

Morris attempted to clear Kirk Millar's low ball in from the right, but miskicked in front of goal.

Battling Ballinamallard, needing points to ease their relegation worries and winners of a League Cup tie at Linfield earlier in the season, were in no mood to make life easy for David Healy's side.

They almost equalised near the end from a free-kick into the box but Stephen O'Flynn's header stuck the far post.

Irish Premiership table
How they stand in the title race

Linfield right in title contention

Home fans became frustrated as their side struggled to get on top, but in the end the crucial three points were secured.

Linfield have won the Irish League title a record 51 times but have not lifted the Gibson Cup since 2012.

This win, coming two days after defending champions were beaten at Carrick Rangers, has injected fresh interest in the battle for the championship.

Crusaders have a game in hand and the 9 April top-two clash at Seaview will be one of the most early-awaited matches of the season.

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