So Tuesday night saw three games, 11 goals, 3 penalties, and a red card. Another fun filled evening in the wonderful world of Irish league football.
Firstly can I wish Kris Lindsay well as the new manager at Dungannon Swifts. I think everyone at Mourneview Park will recognise the great work Kris has done behind the scenes there. Great appointment and a great opportunity to push his career to its full potential.
Coleraine 2 – 2 Ballymena United
Tuesday saw a bumper crowd turn out to the Showgrounds to watch an excellent game of football. Coleraine, now with Rodney McAree at the helm, will be trying to get the season started under his leadership. Ballymena come off the back of a defeat and this game must have been the perfect motivation to get themselves back to winning ways.
Tony Kane got the game off and running with a wonderful strike on 8 mins. He picked the ball up 25 yards out and delivered a wonderful shot past Chris Johns. The Bannsiders where then reduced to 10 men. Eoin Bradley got his marching orders. Hard to see what he did, and there is different accounts, but his actions after deserved the red card alone. Pulling Jim Ervin away like he was trying to clear the ball out of a ruck at Ravenhill. Darren McCauley has scored in the last three games between the two teams, and 20 mins in he obliged again. A terrific run and finish from McCauley. Ballymena regained the lead on 32 mins. Andrew McGrory fired a shot past Johns. Now yes we are early in the season, but this effort by Jonathan McMurray will go down for ‘miss of the season’ already. Stephen O’Donnell’S short header back fell to McMurray who lifted the ball over Johns and all he had to do was slot it home. I get it pressure might have got to him but I will leave it to you all to have a watch online and make your own decision. Coleraine claimed the equaliser on 79 mins. A McCauley corner is met by the head of O’Donnell who fired a header into the net.
Great game of end to end football from both sides even though Coleraine played with 10 men. This is what happens when cool heads get left in the changing rooms.
Dungannon 3 – 2 Crusaders
Same old same old for the shore road outfit tonight. This week Stephen Baxter has taken his frustration out on the media. But to be fair no-one can excuse the number of goals conceded. His constant tinkering with the first eleven must be a big problem. Consistency in this league is the key to success. Dungannon went into the game with a home draw to Ard’s and with the form the Crues have been in, I am sure they were full of confidence.
Dungannon got the match off an running on 30 mins. Ryan Harpur picked up a ball just outside the box. Unopposed and with more space than a parent and toddler parking space, he picked his spot and placed a beautiful shot passed O’Neill into the top corner. Into the second half and the referee, Keith Kennedy pointed to the spot. A shot from outside the box hit substitute Billy Joe Burns on the arm. What is the ball to arm? Did he make a clear attempt to stop the ball with his arm? From the resulting penalty, Daniel Hughes stepped up and coolly slotted the ball home. On the 75th min, the Crues got a lifeline. Paul Heatley delivered a free kick into the box. Ross Clarke knocked it onto the unlucky Chris Lowe who directed his header into his own net. 2 mins later the Crues were level. A long ball out of defence was knocked down by Jordan Owens to the feet of Heatley who delivered a wonderful effort over the head of the Dungannon keeper into the net. Dungannon continued to push for the winner and deep into stoppage time they got the winner they deserved. Jonny Lafferty broke into the Crues box and was upended by Colin Coates. From the resulting penalty, Paul McElory placed the following penalty into the net.
A well-deserved win for Dungannon, and with Kris Lindsey coming in, things look to be going in the right direction for the club. For Crusaders something is amiss. No effort or desire. Simply just turning up will not win you games. The worst run of games under Baxter’s tenure and he has work to do to sort out the underlying problems.
Ards 0 – 2 Glenavon
The Ard’s brick wall has finally been blown down and it had to be Glenavon that did it. The free-scoring team has been showing great potential already this season. One of my predictions to go very close this year to winning the title. Gary Hamilton has also been playing minds games this week by saying ‘it will be either the Crues or the Blues that walk with the Gibson cup this season.’
The first goal came after Josh Kelly was adjudged to have fouled Josh Daniels. Again another contentious referring decision and after having a second look myself I think Ard’s can feel hard done by. Stephen Murray stepped up and converted the penalty. The game went from end to end with both teams creating chances, but it was Glenavon who got the next goal. Their second came through Andrew Mitchell. Mitchell showed great strength to hold off the Ard’s defender to power his shot into the net.
The result puts Glenavon to the top of the pile. A well hard fought win for the men from Mourneview park who have started the season impressively.