A Boxing day to remember for some, for the rest it was a dark end to Christmas. In Belfast, Glentoran and Cliftonville claimed the bragging rights in the two Belfast Derbys against Linfield and Crusaders respectively. At the wrong end of the table, Warrenpoint Town claimed all three points away to fellow strugglers, Institute.
Glentoran 3-0 Linfield
You could have sold tickets for this one three times over. The crowds were out in force and there was a feel-good factor back in the East of the City. Boxing Day’s victory made it a run of 11 games unbeaten for the Glens. This 3-0 win is the heaviest defeat the Blues have had against the Glens on Boxing Day since 1995. The Blues just couldn’t find a way to get the ball in the net, and they had their chances. But it was the Glens, in the latter parts of the game, that won it.
The Glens took the lead in the first half. Elvio van Overbeek with the cheekiest of back heel finishes at the back post who scored. It wasn’t till late on that the Glens wrapped the game up. Plum made it two with a superb finish from outside the box. He then got his 2nd, and the Glens’ 3rd, from the penalty spot.
A great win for the Glens but some of the stuff that was going on after the game was a little far-fetched.
Crusaders 1-2 Cliftonville
This was one tinker too many for Stephen Baxter. He ringed the changes again from the team that got a draw at the Blues last Saturday. Rodney Brown got his first start in over a year at centre back. Yes, you heard me right. Straight into such a huge game against your nearest rivals, not only that but also playing out of position to go with it. The Reds’ win puts them at the top of the league.
The Crues got off to a good start. David Cushley, who was brought back into the team for this one, put a well-placed finish past Richard Brush in the Reds goal. But it was two goals, one in each half, from Conor McMenamin that sealed the victory and the Twitter bragging rights for the Reds.
Coleraine 2-0 Ballymena United
The Bannsiders took this one which, in fairness, was over as a contest by the 20-minute mark. In an eight-minute spell, the Bannsiders were two goals up without reply. Josh Carson got the first of the afternoon followed shortly by the second scored by Jamie Glackin. The win keeps the Bannsiders in third place, four points ahead of the Glens in 4th.
Institute 0-1 Warrenpoint Town
Both these teams needed the win. Both are stuck at the bottom of the table, and both are struggling to get themselves some sort of momentum. Eamon Scannell got the all-important goal for Point and the three precious points. The win for Point, who lie in bottom place, now brings them within a point of Stute. This is going to be a fight to the finish for these two, to see who gets the automatic relegation spot.
Glenavon 5-0 Dungannon Swifts
A good win for Glenavon, and a win that they will be happy with. For the Swifts, they won’t be happy with this. One win in 12 after this encounter and they are on a downward spiral. Goals from: Conor McCloskey, Jordan Jenkins, Josh Daniels, and Robert Garrett gave Glenavon the 5-0 win. For the second game running, the Swifts had a player sent to the stands. This time around it was Terry Fitzpatrick who got his marching orders after a second bookable offence.
Larne 0-0 Carrick Rangers
0-0! Says it all. Carrick should have actually won this and, when looking back on it, will feel like they should have taken their chances. For Larne – a full-time team, with the financial clout and players they have brought into the fold, should be winning games against teams with not even a quarter of their budget. I said it before, and will say it again: Larne needs an experienced manager at the helm to push this team to play at the levels they should be and producing weekly.