Glentoran dent Ballymena's title hopes as Linfield go nine points clear at top

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Ballymena's title hopes dented by Glentoran defeat

Ballymena United fell nine points behind Linfield at the top of the Irish Premiership table as they suffered a 2-0 defeat by Glentoran.

Goals from Paul O'Neill and Robbie McDaid inflicted a first home league loss of the season on the Sky Blues.

Jordan Stewart and Josh Robinson scored in the second half to help Linfield to a 2-0 home win over Institute.

Crusaders defeated Cliftonville in the north Belfast derby, Glenavon beat Dungannon and Ards lost to Warrenpoint.

Glens go seventh with dominant display

The win over Ballymena puts Glentoran in pole position for a European play-off place
The win over Ballymena puts Glentoran in pole position for a European play-off place

The 10-man Glens were dominant throughout the 90 minutes at the Showgrounds and took an early lead as O'Neill opened the scoring with a third-minute volley.

Curtis Allen delivered the cross from the left and youngster O'Neill showed fine technique to hook his strike over goalkeeper Ross Glendinning and into the top left-hand corner.

McDaid added the second just before the hour mark, coolly slotting home after being sent racing through on Glendinning.

The visitors had James McCarthy sent-off for a late, reckless challenge on Andy McGrory 20 minutes from time but the home side were unable to capitalise, failing to carve out any clear-cut chances.

It was a first victory of the campaign over Ballymena for the east Belfast outfit and moves them above the Swifts into the seventh-placed European play-off spot.

David Jeffrey's Ballymena, meanwhile, have a game in hand over Linfield which comes on Tuesday evening when they host Stute.

Blues return to winning ways

Stewart's opener paved the way for the Blues' victory
Stewart's stunning opener paved the way for the Blues' victory

Linfield enjoyed a comfortable victory over the North West outfit at Windsor Park to recover from Tuesday's Co Antrim Shield final defeat and last week's league loss to Glenavon.

In a first half of few chances, Blues defender Chris Casement came closest to breaking the deadlock when he cracked a free-kick off the Institute woodwork.

Stewart blasted home the opener just after the hour mark and Joel Cooper saw his lob cleared off the line before Josh Robinson headed in number two from a corner.

Stute rarely threatened as David Healy's men secured a deserved three points and open up a nine-point lead with six league games to play.

Owens at the double as 10-man Crues win derby

Kyle Owens joined his brother Jordan in getting on the scoresheet against the Reds
Kyle Owens joined his brother Jordan in getting on the scoresheet against the Reds

First-half goals from Jordan Owens and brother Kyle Owens lifted 10-man Crusaders to a 2-0 victory over Cliftonville in an entertaining north Belfast derby at Seaview.

Jordan Owens headed the Crues into the lead after just four minutes, with Kyle adding the second on 44.

Rory Hale was sent off for the hosts in the second half following two bookable offences but they held on for their cleansheet and their third win of the season over the Reds.

It takes the third-placed Premiership holders, who lifted the Co Antrim Shield on Tuesday, to within five points of Ballymena, while the Reds remain fifth.

Foster's goal halted a four-game losing run in the league for Warrenpoint
Foster's goal halted a four-game losing run in the league for Warrenpoint

In Bangor, it was a first defeat in three games as Ards boss for Warren Feeney whose side lost to a Seanan Foster goal in the 40th minute.

Foster latched on to a through ball to go round keeper Sam Johnston and roll into an empty net.

Johnston had earlier saved a penalty from Simon Kelly but Foster's goal was enough for Point to end a four-game losing run in the league.

At Mourneview Park, Glenavon kept up their pursuit of Crusaders in the race for third position with a scrappy 1-0 win over the Swifts.

Josh Daniels was on the scoresheet for the second weekend in a row as his deflected effort beat Swifts keeper Evan Moran for the only goal with 20 minutes remaining.

In the first half, Swifts captain Chris Hegarty had seen a header come off the top of the crossbar.

Irish Premiership results - Saturday 16 March
Ards0-1Warrenpoint Town
Ballymena United0-2Glentoran
Crusaders2-0Cliftonville
Glenavon1-0 Dungannon Swifts
Linfield 2-0Institute

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