Irish Premiership: Crusaders win to cut Coleraine lead to two points

Billy Joe Burns equalised with a stunning long-range effort for Crusaders
Billy Joe Burns equalised with a stunning long-range effort for Crusaders

Crusaders came from a goal down to beat Linfield 2-1 at Windsor Park and move to within two points of leaders Coleraine, with one game in hand.

Josh Robinson gave the Blues a first-minute lead but Billy Joe Burns and Gavin Whyte goals ensured victory.

Coleraine, who had Aaron Traynor sent-off, drew 0-0 away to Cliftonville.

Ballymena came from behind to defeat Glenavon 3-1, Warrenpoint Town drew 3-3 at home to Ards and Dungannon Swifts against Glentoran ended goal-less.

All the action from a busy afternoon in the Irish Premiership as it happened

Former Crusaders player Robinson, who was involved in a tug-of-war between the two Belfast clubs before opting to sign for Linfield in the summer, got the home side off to a flying start, but Burns levelled with a stunning long-range effort just before the hour mark.

In-form Crues winger Whyte netted his 13th league goal of the season 10 minutes from time to extend the Seaview club's unbeaten record to 17 in all competitions, including 11 victories and a draw from their last 12 league outings.

The defeat could spell the end of Linfield's hopes of retaining the Gibson Cup, David Healy's men having now lost seven Premiership games during this campaign.

Cliftonville had the better of the chances against the top-flight pacesetters, Jay Donnelly squandering the best of them, while Eoin Bradley was unable to convert two good opportunities for Coleraine.

Traynor was sent-off 15 minutes from time for pulling back Rory Donnelly as he attempted to run onto a ball over the defence.

Eoin Bradley in action against Liam Bagnall
Coleraine striker Eoin Bradley in action against Cliftonville's Liam Bagnall

The result sees Cliftonville lie one place above Linfield in fourth place in the table.

Sammy Clingan converted a penalty for Glenavon in the opening minute against Ballymena after defender Kofi Balmer was adjudged to have handled inside the area.

A clever lob from Kevin Braniff drew the Braidmen level after 13 minutes and then Tony Kane corners enabled Cathair Friel to head home in the 77th minute and Kyle Owens to poke home left-footed four minutes later.

Darren Murray, Conor McMenamin and Liam McKenna were on target for Warrenpoint in their meeting with Ards, Michael McLellan, Scott Davidson and Craig McMillen scoring for the visitors.

Chances were at a premium at Stangmore Park as Glentoran dropped a place to seventh in the table, with Dungannon remaining eighth.

Danske Bank Irish Premiership - Saturday 30 December
Ballymena Utd3-1Glenavon
Dungannon Swifts0-0Glentoran
Warrenpoint Town3-3Ards
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