Irish Premiership: Ballymena three points behind leaders Linfield

Ballymena beat Ards 4-1
Ballymena are attempting to win the title for the first time in the club's history

Second-placed Ballymena United reduced Linfield's lead at the top of the Irish Premiership to three points by seeing off struggling Ards 4-1 on Saturday.

Title holders Crusaders, in third, are six points behind the leaders after a 3-1 win away to Institute.

Resurgent Dungannon made it three league wins from four with a 2-1 victory at Coleraine while Warrenpoint were 2-0 winners away to Newry City.

Cliftonville, under temporary manager Michael Press, drew 1-1 with Glenavon.

Relive the key moments from Saturday's Irish Premiership matches

Darren Henderson of Ards competes against Ballymena's Andrew McGrory
Ballymena, who have never won the Irish League title, are now three points behind leaders Linfield

Adam Lecky netted two in Ballymena's comfortable home win over bottom club Ards with the others coming from Cathair Friel and a Michael Kerr own goal.

Darren Henderson's header for Ards just before half-time had pegged it back to 2-1 at half-time, but David Jeffrey's side asserted their supremacy after the interval.

At the Brandywell, champions Crusaders had victory all but assured by half-time.

Paul Heatley netted a left-foot shot on 13 minutes for his 21st goal of the season, Rory Patterson added number two four minutes before the break and Ronan Hale followed up to net the Crues' third with a close-range header.

Institute skipper Michael McCrudden, who many expect to move before the transfer window closes, pulled on back with a 73rd-minute solo effort.

Ronan Hale of Crusaders
Former Derry City player Ronan Hale scored on his first start for Crusaders

Cliftonville, playing their first mach since the departure of manager Barry Gray, made a great start with Ryan Curran blasting in a fifth-minute opener at home to fourth-placed Glenavon.

But Stephen Murray equalised and it took a string of fine saves by home keeper Richard Brush to earn the home point for the Reds who stay sixth.

Dungannon moved 11 points clear of the relegation play-off place by winning for the third time in their last four Premiership matches.

Oisin Smyth provided the pass for Paul McElroy to put Dungannon ahead but Jamie Glackin quickly equalised for the Bannsiders from Jamie McGonigle's pass.

Interim manager Michael Press saw his Cliftonville team draw at home to Glenavon
Interim manager Michael Press saw his Cliftonville team draw at home to Glenavon

Eighteen-year-old Smyth got Dungannon's second in the 48th minute and that was enough to end Coleraine's seven-match unbeaten run.

It means Newry's 2-0 home defeat by neighbours Warrenpoint leaves them well adrift in the one-from-bottom position.

Lee Duffy (22) and Alan O'Sullivan (35) were on target again for Stephen McDonnell's side who are now eighth and just one point behind Institute.

Danske Bank Irish Premiership
Ballymena United4-1Ards
Cliftonville1-1Glenavon
Coleraine1-2Dungannon Swifts
Institute1-3Crusaders
Newry City0-2Warrenpoint Town
Bluefin Sport Championship
H&W Welders2-1Ballinamallard United
Larne4-0Carrick Rangers
Limavady United1-4Dergview
Loughgall3-5Ballyclare Comrades
Portadown3-2Dundela
PSNI0-3Knockbreda

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