Irish Premiership: Coleraine stay six clear as top two win

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Coleraine win 2-0 at Warrenpoint

Irish Premiership leaders Coleraine maintained their six-point advantage over Crusaders at the top of the table by winning 2-0 away to Warrenpoint.

Ian Parkhill gave the Bannsiders the lead with a 48th-minute deflected shot and Darren McCauley netted the second in stoppage-time.

Crusaders had to battle from behind to beat Ballymena United 2-1 at Seaview.

Matthew Shevlin put Ballymena in front but Colin Coates equalised and Gavin Whyte netted the winner with a penalty.

The other four Premiership matches take place on Saturday.

Coleraine sealed victory at Warrenpoint after struggling to make an impact in a poor first half.

The breakthrough came when Parkhill's shot from 20 yards took a deflection to leave home keeper Jonathan Parr helpless.

It would have been 2-0 but for a remarkable headed clearance by Conor McMenamin from sub Josh Carson.

Warrenpoint striker Darren Murray saw a fine shot strike the far post and that was the closest the hosts came to an equaliser, with McCauley making sure of the away win in time added on.

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Irish Premiership: Crusaders 2-1 Ballymena United

"It was a relief to get the win after a dreadful first half performance," said Coleraine keeper Chris Johns.

"It was extremely tough, but in the end it was a satisfying win."

Crusaders' 14-match unbeaten record in all competitions looked under threat when Ballymena striker Shevlin ran on to Jonny McMurray's nicely-weighted through ball to give the visitors a 17th-minute lead at Seaview.

But skipper Coates headed the equaliser before half-time and Whyte netted a 60th-minute penalty after a foul on Paul Heatley.

"We had to dig that one out - Ballymena were more attacking than we expected," said Coates.

"We have not kept enough clean sheets and going behind is not ideal.

"You are going to run out of luck at some stage, so we have to look at that."

Danske Bank Irish Premiership - Friday 22 December
Crusaders2-1Ballymena Utd
Warrenpoint Town0-2Coleraine
Saturday 23 December (15:00 GMT)
Radio Ulster coverage and live text commentary on the BBC Sport website
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