Irish Premiership: Cooper rescues Linfield against Crues

Carrick and Glentoran players pay emotional tribute to Thompson

Joel Cooper scored a late equaliser as Linfield remained top of the Irish Premiership table after a 1-1 draw with Crusaders at Windsor Park.

Declan Caddell's header put the Crues into an early lead but Cooper struck with five minutes to go to steal a point.

Conor McMenamin gave Cliftonville a crucial win over Coleranie while Glentoran edged out Carrick Rangers.

Institute and Dungannon Swifts drew while Larne defeated Warrenpoint Town.

The Crues were the better side for most of the game and midfielder Caddell gave them the lead on eight minutes when he headed home at the back post from a perfectly-placed dinked cross by Philip Lowry.

Blues keeper Rohan Ferguson made a fine double save from Jamie McGonigle and the keeper then intercepted a pass from the striker to deny Ross Clarke what would have been a tap-in.

The Blues improved after the break and Stephen Fallon hit the crossbar before the hosts were awarded a penalty for a Billy Joe Burns handball, with Doherty saving substitute Bastien Hery's spot-kick.

Cooper's equaliser two minutes later was a left-foot shot from distance, which swerved and deceived Doherty, who could only palm the ball into the net off the underside of the crossbar.

Declan Caddell celebrates
Declan Caddell headed home an early opener for Crusaders

Brawl mars Cliftonville win

McMenamin headed Aaron Donnelly's cross home to give the Reds a huge three points and a morale-boosting victory over one of their top-four rivals at Solitude.

In a breathless start to the game, Jamie Glackin failed to score from close range after being found by James McLaughlin. Cliftonville could have broken the deadlock just seconds later after they ran straight up the other end, with McMenamin's goal-bound effort beaten away by Chris Johns.

Coleraine spurned big chances in the second half through Stephen O'Donnell and Josh Carson, while Ian Parkhill struck the bar as they failed to beat Richard Brush in the Cliftonville goal.

Aaron Traynoe and Jamie Harney
There was a mass brawl after the final whistle at Solitude

Joe Gormley also missed a presentable opportunity before Garry Breen saw his appeals for a penalty turned away.

But Cliftonville were rewarded for their patience as McMenamin eluded marker Gareth McConaghie at the back post before beating Johns with his header.

The win was slightly overshadowed by the injured Ruaidhri Donnelly having to go off on a stretcher, while there were unsavoury scenes following the final whistle as players from both sides became embroiled in a mass brawl in the penalty box in front of the away end and there was a further altercation as the teams entered the tunnel.

Emotional afternoon in Carrick

Trubutes paid at Carrick Rangers
Players from both sides and match officials all wore shirts in tribute to Jerry Thompson ahead of the game at Taylor's Avenue

There was a touching tribute to the late Jerry Thompson before kick-off at Taylor's Avenue, with players from both sides and officials coming together for an impeccably observed minute's silence, and it was also a sad day for the Glens after captain Marcus Kane's baby son passed away.

The impressive Navid Nasseri blasted home the only goal on 74 minutes in a scrappy match of few chances.

Reece Neale saw his early header tipped over by Glens keeper Aaron while Robbie McDaid went close for the visitors with a rasping long-range strike.

The Glens remain in fifth place in the table and are five points off Linfield ahead of their traditional Boxing Day encounter at the Oval.

Swifts and Larne leave it late

Dungannon Swifts and Institute shared the points in a tense tussle at Stangmore Park, where an early flurry of activity produced goals for both teams inside the opening 10 minutes.

Institute went ahead on eight minutes through Cormac Burke, who cut inside and curled a measured shot beyond former team-mate Stuart Addis.

But Dungannon were level within two minutes after Douglas Wilson struck home a 25-yard free kick past motionless Stute keeper Rory Brown.

The visitors regained the lead on 32 minutes when Addis was unable to deal with Burke's inswinging free kick, which glanced off the crossbar and Evan Tweed was on hand to force home the loose ball from close range.

Douglas Wilson
Douglas Wilson scored and was sent off in Dungannon Swifts' draw with Institute

Dungannon's Kris Lowe headed against his own crossbar in the second half and the home side's hopes of salvaging something from the game looked to have been dealt a blow when they had Wilson red-carded 10 minutes from the end following a tangle with Institute substitute Brendan McLaughlin.

But the Swifts grabbed a point with five minutes left when Michael Carvill showed quick footwork on the edge of the Institute penalty area before finding the corner of the net with a neat finish.

There were unsavoury scenes as the teams entered their dressing rooms after the game, with Institute's Niall Grace and Gareth Brown and Swifts captain Seanan Clucas all shown red cards by referee Tony Clarke after the incident.

Larne are now unbeaten in their last three league games but left it late to beat Warrenpoint Town thanks to two goals from David McDaid.

Tiernan Lynch's side struggled to break down a dogged Warrenpoint and had to wait until the 85th minutes to break the deadlock when McDaid tucked home Chris Ramsey's cross.

McDaid added a second in injury time when he produced an excellent finish to beat teenager goalkeeper Mark Byrne, which secured the three points for the Inver Park side.

Danske Bank Irish Premiership results
Ballymena United 2-1Glenavon (Friday)
Carrick Rangers0-1Glentoran
Dungannon Swifts2-2Institute
Warrenpoint Town0-2Larne
Bluefin Sport Championship
Ards3-0 Loughgall
H&W Welders3-0Ballyclare Comrades
Queen's University0-2 Ballinamallard United
Newry City4-0 Dundela

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