Irish Premiership: Ballymena beat Coleraine to tighten grip on second place

Coleraine remain sixth after losing away to Ballymena
Coleraine remain sixth after losing away to Ballymena

Ballymena United opened a five-point gap in the race to secure the runners-up spot in the Irish Premiership with a 1-0 derby win at home to Coleraine.

Glenavon leapfrogged Crusaders into third by hammering champions Linfield 4-0 before the Blues were presented with the Gibson Cup at Windsor Park.

Ards moved off the bottom with a 1-0 win over Institute, while Cliftonville beat the Crues 2-0 at Solitude.

Warrenpoint Town beat Dungannon Swifts 5-3 in an eight-goal thriller.

Newry City, who lost 2-0 to Glentoran on Friday night, drop to the bottom of the table with two matches left to play.

McGonigle had Coleraine's best efforts at the Showgrounds
McGonigle had Coleraine's best efforts at the Showgrounds

David Jeffrey's Ballymena are now in pole position to finish second and clinch automatic Europa League qualification.

Leroy Millar got the goal in the sixth minute, with the midfielder rifling a shot just inside the post in what was a disappointing encounter at Warden Street.

Coleraine, who have failed to win any of the four derby matches this season, came closest through striker Jamie McGonigle who headed wide before seeing two shots saved by Ross Glendinning in the first half.

United created the better second-half chances, with Jonathan McMurray slicing wide while Andy McGrory headed over before having a goal ruled out for offside.

Garrett started the scoring for Glenavon at Windsor against his former club
Garrett started the scoring for Glenavon at Windsor against his former club

With the title already wrapped up, Linfield boss David Healy made six changes to his side for the visit of Glenavon, with several regular starters including Jimmy Callacher and Jamie Mulgrew named on the bench.

The Lurgan Blues, still in the hunt for second, outclassed the league champions throughout with former Linfield midfielder Robert Garrett and Conor McCloskey scoring wonderful long-range efforts to give the visitors a two-goal lead at half-time.

Eoin Wearen's solo effort extended the lead before Rhys Marshall finished from close range to complete a remarkable result.

The win ensures Glenavon move ahead of outgoing champions Crusaders into third place and have now accumulated their highest-ever points total.

Michael McLellan
McLellan's wonder strike was his ninth goal of the season

At the Brandywell, an outstanding 35-yard free-kick in the second half from striker Michael McLellan took Ards off the bottom and ahead of Newry on goal difference.

Kyle Cherry was fouled for the free-kick on 55 minutes and McLellan could not have struck his shot any sweeter as he found the top corner.

Cherry thought he had given Warren Feeney's men the lead in the first half but his headed goal was ruled out for offside, while Damien McNulty almost doubled the visitors' lead when his header came back off the crossbar.

Joe McCready had the only effort of note for Stute but his first-half header was easily saved by Sam Johnston.

It was a double from in-form striker Ryan Curran that took Cliftonville to a 2-0 derby win over Crusaders at Solitude.

He struck in the ninth minute from the penalty spot before netting an excellent second seven minutes later, flicking the ball over Howard Beverland's head before slotting past Gerard Doherty.

Ryan Catney
Catney joined Cliftonville from Lisburn Distillery

Ryan Catney captained the Reds three days after confirmation that his 12-year stint with the club will end this summer.

At Milltown, Danny Wallace scored twice as Warrenpoint came out on top of an incident-filled encounter which featured eight goals, a penalty miss and three lead changes.

Lee Duffy gave Point the lead against the run of play then Swifts' Paul McElroy saw his penalty saved by Jared Thompson and Wallace doubled the home side's advantage during a frenetic opening 20 minutes.

Goals from Rhyss Campbell, McElroy and Michael Carvill gave the Swifts a half-time lead, before Wallace drew Point level and they regained the lead when Joshua Lynch scored from a superb pass by Francis McCaffrey.

The home side made sure of the points when McCaffrey beat the offside trap in injury time to clinch Point's first five-goal haul of the season.

Danske Bank Irish Premiership
Ballymena United1-0Coleraine
Cliftonville2-0Crusaders
Institute0-1Ards
Linfield0-4Glenavon
Warrenpoint Town5-3Dungannon Swifts
Bluefin Sport Championship
Dundela1-2Carrick Rangers
Knockbreda2-1Ballyclare Comrades
Larne2-1H&W Welders
Loughgall1-1Limavady United
Portadown2-1Ballinamallard United
PSNI0-3Dergview

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