- Carrick remain firmly at the bottom of the table after a defeat at home to Ballymena.
- Larne only managed a draw at home to Glentoran but closed the gap at the top to three points.
- Crusaders are still unable to get a win against the teams around them who will be challengers for the title come to the end of the season.
Carrick Rangers 0-2 Ballymena United
This is starting to be a season that Carrick will likely want to forget. It has started and stopped like an old 1970’s car. But when they have had the opportunity to play, they just haven’t produced. This is a team that seems to be living with the ‘insurance package’ of the Championship clubs that haven’t kicked a ball and so they will not be getting relegated.
I did have my own concerns for Carrick at the start of the season. Niall Currie brought in a lot of new faces to his already settled team. It clearly hasn’t paid off. Saturday’s home defeat leaves them with only one win this season – six defeats on the bounce for the East Antrim side.
For the Sky Blues – the win has them continuing to travel in the right direction. The game makes it eight games undefeated, as they sit in fifth position. Goals from Paul McElroy and Jude Winchester confirmed the win.
Larne 1-1 Glentoran
Friday evenings live encounter matched two clubs littered with big names, and they didn’t disappoint. Larne have hit a little bit of a bad patch lately. No wins in their last four games but they still sit second spot. They will now need to keep a look over their shoulder for the in-form Coleraine.
Glentoran is now undefeated in six games. Their last defeat was at the hands of Crusaders in December. The two meet again on Tuesday evening and I can see a different Glentoran team turning up at Seaview.
Jeff Hughes gave Larne the lead in this game, before Glen’s top marksman, Robbie McDaid grabbed the equaliser.
Coleraine 2-1 Crusaders
Coleraine is back in the groove. Six wins in a row and the Bannsiders are now charging down on the second spot, and the European places. What a turnaround it has been for Oran Kearney’s men.
For the Crues, they are on a terrible run of form. Why terrible? The Crues media team will tell you they are still in third and doing grand. Problem is – they cannot get a win against the teams around them. Beating teams at the bottom end of the table should be bread and butter. This is not the vision Stephen Baxter set out when he signed his five-year big-money contract. The promise of European football every year. They have now got an ageing team with a lot of young players being released.
Too much chopping and changing at the back once again this season. Nine goals against in just four games is a shocking return. At the start of the season, Declan Caddell was not expecting to get much game time. Now they are asking him to play every game in the middle of the park. Things are not going well at Seaview. The Crusaders board needs to hold off on sentiment for this management team and start thinking about running a business. A business in this league involves getting them a European place which gives you the big payday. Someone needs to question the manager’s direction.
The Crues got the early goal in this through Jamie McGonigle. But it was the Bannsiders who turned this one around. Curtis Allen equalised when he was left unchallenged in the six-yard box to score. The Bannsiders left it until late in the game to claim the win through Stephen Lowry. For the last several weeks, if you put the ball into the Crues box it causes mayhem. Once again it happened and this time Lowry was on hand to finish
Cliftonville 1-1 Glenavon
Glenavon will feel hard done by this result. They seemed to have this game won through a Danny Purkis penalty. But the Reds stole a point with a late equaliser through Conor McMenamin. Will it be McMenamin’s last game for the Reds? There are only a few days left of the transfer window. Watch this space. This draw makes it four undefeated at home for the Reds.
It has been a very inconsistent season for the Lurgan Blues. Yes, the pandemic has not helped, but they have not helped themselves either. There are six points between themselves and Dungannon who currently sit in the relegation play-off spot.
Portadown 0-2 Warrenpoint
After Tuesday’s great display against the Crues, which the Ports should really have won, they would have come into this with more expectation than hope. But Barry Gray has got a really good, hard-working team together at Warrenpoint. Yes, not always pretty and not winning every game. But they are picking up points when it counts. Brandon Doyle scoring the first after he joined for the second time on loan from Linfield. The game was secured through marksman Ryan Swan.