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Live Reporting

By Mark Sterling and Alvin McCaig

All times stated are UK

  1. It's a Sky Blue Christmas!

    So it's Ballymena United who are top of the tree at Christmas in the Irish Premiership.

    The Sky Blues set a new club record of 17 games unbeaten with a 2-0 win over Ards and could even afford the luxury of missing TWO penalties, both saved by visiting keeper Sam Johnston.

    The real bonus for Ballymena came as Linfield and Glenavon - the two sides closest to the Sky Blues - battled out a scoreless draw, meaning that United will have a four-point cushion going into the festive period.

    Elsewhere, the game that really caught the eye was Institute's remarkable 6-4 win over Cliftonville, who will go into their Boxing Day clash with Crusaders with no recognised senior keeper after Brian Neeson's red card.

    In the day's other games, champions Crusaders beat Warrenpoint Town 3-1 while Rodney McAree's Coleraine emerged 2-1 victors over his old employers Dungannon Swifts.

    It's all perfectly set up for the busy Christmas period so in the meantime, eat, drink and be merry and don't forget to join us for our coverage of the eagerly-awaited Boxing Day fixtures.

    Until then, bye for now and a very Happy Christmas.

  2. McDonnell disappointment

    Crusaders 3-1 Warrenpoint Town

    Quote Message: It felt like two totally different matches out there. We were very good in the first half but the second half was totally different. We conceded two of the softest goals that we have let in all season. I'm very disappointed with our opening 15 minutes of the second half. We lost the game during that period. from Stephen McDonnell Warrenpoint Town manager
    Stephen McDonnellWarrenpoint Town manager
  3. Baxter happy with Crues display

    Crusaders 3-1 Warrenpoint Town

    Quote Message: I'm pleased with our performance. We pretty much controlled the game from start to finish but we had to be patient in waiting for our opportunities to come. They set up in a way which made them hard to penetrate but our front three men - Cushley, Heatley and Clarke - were brilliant. It was good to see them on the scoresheet today. from Stephen Baxter Crusaders manager
    Stephen BaxterCrusaders manager
  4. 'Ballymena are playing with real purpose'

    Ballymena Utd 2-0 Ards

    Gary Haveron

    Radio Ulster summariser

    Quote Message: Ards keeper Sam Johnston (two penalty saves) will be drawing a lot of attention and he's produced another fine performance - he is keeping Ards competitive. But Ballymena had too much class for them and Leroy Millar was fantastic. Ballymena are playing with real purpose.
  5. Officials not brave enough - Hamilton

    Linfield 0-0 Glenavon

    Quote Message: It was a very even game today but the thing that disappoints me most is the header from Dylan King that looked like it had crossed the line. We thought at the time that it had crossed the line and having looked at it back on TV it looks like it did.The problem is that we don't have anyone brave enough to give decisions like that against Linfield at Windsor Park. from Gary Hamilton Glenavon manager
    Gary HamiltonGlenavon manager
  6. Nixon 'frustrated' after Showgrounds defeat

    Ballymena Utd 2-0 Ards

    Quote Message: The players worked hard for each other but we missed some gilt-edged chances and couldn't hit the target. It's very frustrating and it's starting to get to me. The quality of Ballymena's finishing proved the difference - there are fine margins in football. We have got a good group of lads in our changing room and we have got to keep plugging away. from Colin Nixon Ards manager
    Colin NixonArds manager
  7. Swifts must learn lesson - Lindsay

    Coleraine 2-1 Dungannon Swifts

    Quote Message: I'm frustrated - we were average in the first half and Coleraine were the slightly better team. We then concede a second goal early in the second half. In the last 20 minutes we showed plenty of desire but you can't give teams 2-0 head-starts and we have to learn that. from Kris Lindsay Dungannon Swifts manager
    Kris LindsayDungannon Swifts manager
  8. Gray rues first half display in 'crazy' game

    Institute 6-4 Cliftonville

    Quote Message: It was a crazy game, absolutely crazy. I was really disappointed with our first half performance - that's where it started for us. Our reaction after half-time was very positive until it came to the penalty. That was our chance to push on and take the lead - two minutes later we found ourselves down to 10 men and chasing the game again. We now have a problem to fix for Boxing Day with no goalkeeper and we will have to deal with that in the next few hours. from Barry Gray Cliftonville manager
    Barry GrayCliftonville manager
  9. Draw was a fair result - Healy

    Linfield 0-0 Glenavon

    Quote Message: It was a tough game today and Glenavon are a very good side, so to keep a clean sheet was a big positive. It was a bit frustrating when we didn't take the chances we created but I think a draw was a fair result in the end. from David Healy Linfield manager
    David HealyLinfield manager
  10. Jeffrey joy as Ballymena stay top

    Ballymena Utd 2-0 Ards

    Quote Message: We knew it was going to be a very difficult game as there was no way Ards were going to lie down. We were in a battle right to the end but we applied ourselves and matched them for workrate and desire and played some decent football. Two goals, three points and a clean sheet is very satisfying and the players deserve all the credit. We scored two sublime goals, two superb finishes from Leroy Millar and Jude Winchester. from David Jeffrey Ballymena United manager
    David JeffreyBallymena United manager
  11. 'Penalty save was defining moment' - McLaughlin

    Institute 6-4 Cliftonville

    Quote Message: We try to entertain and score goals but that was a bit extreme! We're delighted with the three points - it doesn't matter how we get them. The penalty save was the defining moment - if Cliftonville had taken the lead they would probably have won the game. There is a lot of work to do but when it's put up to our boys, time and time again they have come up with the answers. from Paddy McLaughlin Institute manager
    Paddy McLaughlinInstitute manager
  12. 'We dug deep and got the victory'

    Coleraine 2-1 Dungannon Swifts

    Quote Message: We made hard work of it - we were in control and should have been out of sight. But you saw the spirit of the players. We dug deep and got the victory. The boys put in a big shift and it could be a big three points for us. from Rodney McAree Coleraine manager
    Rodney McAreeColeraine manager
  13. FULL-TIME

    Linfield 0-0 Glenavon

    Probably a result that suits neither side.

    Glenavon hit the post and the bar in the first half and had a header cleared off the line in the second, while Linfield striker Andy Waterworth had a first-half goal disallowed for offside.

    It's Ballymena's day at the top of the league.

  14. Scores on the board

    Irish Prem FT scores
  15. FULL-TIME

    Ballymena Utd 2-0 Ards

    Ballymena take maximum points against struggling Ards at the Showgrounds to increase their lead at the top to four points.

    The Sky Blues continue to rewrite the club's record books as they have now gone 17 games unbeaten in all competitions - winning 16 and drawing one.

    That sequence eclipses the previous benchmark set way back in 1971.

    David Jeffrey's men have taken 12 victories in a row in all competitions and nine league victories in succession. A remarkable run for the men from Warden Street. Heady days indeed for followers of the Braidmen.

  16. FULL-TIME

    Coleraine 2-1 Dungannon Swifts

    Coleraine get the points but they were hanging on a bit at the end as the Swifts pressed for the equaliser.

    Over 90 minutes a fair result from a game which came to life after a lacklustre opening quarter.

  17. Off the line

    Linfield 0-0 Glenavon

    Glenavon's Dylan King has a header cleared off the line.

    Video content

    Video caption: Last-gasp defending saves Linfield
  18. FULL-TIME

    Institute 6-4 Cliftonville

    All over at the Brandywell after as remarkable a 90 minutes as you're ever likely to see.

    One player scores four, another notches a hat-trick, while we also had a missed penalty and a goalkeeper sent off, amongst other things.

  19. FULL-TIME

    Crusaders 3-1 Warrenpoint Town

    Clarke's goal is the last kick of the match - three goals and three points for the champions.