Irish Premiership: Crusaders lose ground in title race

Philip Lowry of Crusaders in action against Institute's Niall Grace
Crusaders have picked up two points from their last three matches

Third-placed Crusaders lost ground on the top two as they were held to a 1-1 draw by one-from-bottom Institute.

Stephen Baxter's side, champions three times in the last five seasons, were the only top-six side which failed to win on Saturday.

Leaders Coleraine won 2-0 at Dungannon to remain a point ahead of Cliftonville who were 2-1 winners away to Glenavon.

Title holders Linfield saw off Carrick Rangers 2-0 while Ballymena United were beaten 3-0 at home by Larne.

Glentoran made it four league victories in a row by winning 4-0 away to bottom team Warrenpoint Town.

Relive the key moments from Saturday's Irish Premiership

Stephen Lowry's double-strike kept Coleraine top as they recorded a routine win at Dungannon Swifts.

After a low-key opening, it was the Bannsiders who took the lead on 28 minutes.

Stephen Lowry scored both goals in Coleraine's win
Stephen Lowry scored both goals in Coleraine's win at Stangmore Park

Aaron Canning's diagonal pass was knocked down by Eoin Bradley into the path of the in-rushing Lowry and the midfielder's left-footed snap-shot found the bottom of the net with Swifts keeper Sam Johnston left flat-footed.

Lowry doubled his and Coleraine's tally on 58 minutes when he drilled home through a ruck of players after Johnston had kept out Aaron Jarvis' back post header from a Ben Doherty free kick.

Coleraine came close to adding a third goal when Aaron Jarvis' long-range effort was brilliantly touched onto the crossbar by Johnston.

Second-placed Cliftonville remain hot on Coleraine's heels after Ruaridhri Donnelly's second-half strike lifted the Reds to a hard-fought 2-1 win over Glenavon.

Joe Gormley opened the scoring after just three minutes when he found the bottom corner in a one-on-one with James Taylor.

Glenavon's Patrick Burns and Rory Donnelly of Cliftonville
Cliftonville's win at Glenavon was their fifth successive win in the Premiership

However, the hosts levelled in style as Andy Hall exchanged passes with Lurgan Blues player-manager Gary Hamilton before slotting beyond Richard Brush, who had gifted possession back to the hosts with a poor clearance.

Gormley should have scored his second on the stroke of half-time but headed wide before Ruaridhri Donnelly was denied by Taylor.

But there was nothing the young Glenavon stopper could do about Donnelly's next effort, which curled beyond him and into the top corner to give Cliftonville all three points.

Crusaders were the only side in the top six that failed to pick up three points as they were held by a resurgent Institute at Seaview.

Colm McLaughlin put Institute in front from close range but Jamie McGonigle levelled for the hosts just 90 seconds later.

Colm McLaughlin of Institute
Colm McLaughlin's goal put Institute into the lead at Seaview

'Stute keeper Rory Brown starred in the second half to keep Crusaders at bay before McLaughlin fired an injury-time effort into the side netting as Institute fell just short of what would have been a stunning win.

At Windsor Park, Andrew Waterworth broke Carrick's resistance after 42 minutes with an easy finish from Niall Quinn's square ball.

Carrick acquitted themselves well but struggled to find time on the ball and Linfield doubled their lead after the break when Mark Stafford headed home from Kirk Millar's lovely cross.

Blues keeper Rohan Ferguson had his blushes spared by team-mate Bastien Hery, who slid in brilliantly to stop Guillaume Keke's effort on the line after Ferguson cheaply gave away possession.

Barry Gray's return to Milltown ended in heartache as a ruthless first-half display saw Glentoran power past Warrenpoint Town in an impressive 4-0 win.

Gavin Peers fired the visitors into a seventh-minute lead before Hrvoje Plum doubled the advantage on 28.

Defender Mark Stafford scored the second in Linfield's win over Carrick Rangers
Defender Mark Stafford scored the second in Linfield's win over Carrick Rangers

The Croatian added a third from the penalty spot after Dermot McVeigh's foul on Robbie McDaid, and the Glentoran striker thumped home his side's fourth after being teed up by Navid Nasseri, who showed some dazzling footwork to nutmeg McVeigh.

The Glens stay fifth while Warrenpoint remain rooted to the foot of the table after suffering a 13th defeat of the season.

Lee Lynch scored twice as sixth-placed Larne moved three points ahead of derby rivals Ballymena United and exacted revenge for their 4-2 defeat at Inver Park in August.

Visiting skipper Jeff Hughes slotted home a fifth-minute penalty after Declan Carville had fouled Lynch and five minutes before the break Lynch swept home from Johnny McMurray's cross.

Lynch made it 3-0 with an exquisite lob over Ross Glendinning in the 55th minute to secure a first win in four league outings for Larne and condemn Ballymena to a fourth consecutive defeat in all competitions.

Danske Bank Irish Premiership
Ballymena Utd0-3Larne
Dungannon Swifts0-2Coleraine
Linfield 2-0Carrick Rangers
Warrenpoint Town0-4Glentoran
Bluefin Sport Championship
Ballinamallard United2-1Dergview
Ballyclare Comrades0-1Newry City
H&W Welders1-2Dundela
Queen's University3-1Ards

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