An Andrew Waterworth hat-trick puts Linfield top, Dungannon maintain their reemergence in the league, and Ards are struggling at the bottom with no light at the end of the tunnel.
Another great weekend of football in the Danske Bank Premiership, again marred by stupid goings-on between two clubs. Politics in football is not welcome. It clearly states the line taken by the league in paragraph 47 of their rules and regulations: “Processional Entry and Fair Play Handshakes.” It is about time the men in the glass houses implemented the rules they voted in. Once again teams doing their own thing bring the league down. Leave politics in Stormont where it belongs.
Friday night saw Ballymena United put themselves top with a 2-1 win, even if it was short term. Newry City hosted an in-form Ballymena. The Sky Blues who have scored the first goal in 80% of their games, opened the scoring just before the break. Adam Lecky tapping into an empty net after good work from James Knowles. Moments later, Andy McGrory scored with a sublime second. Newry got a consolation goal through Dale Montgomery, but they were left with ten men when keeper Andy Coleman got involved in an incident. Which in fairness a man with his experience should wake up this morning thinking “why did I even bother?”
Over at Seaview and Crusaders’ manager, Stephen Baxter decided to change a winning team not for the first time this season. I suppose squad rotation is a must in their busy schedule, and with injuries too. Spare a thought for David Cushley who, even with this rotation system, still can not get a start. “Naughty schoolboy on the bench”. Stute have scored in 78% of away games, maybe a stat the Crues manager should have had a look at before selecting his weekend team. Rory Patterson got the game off and running with a pulsating finish into the top corner. Institute equalised in the second half with their top marksman Mark McCrudden converting from the spot. In-form Paul Heatley then got himself on the scoresheet only to see that man McCrudden again pull it level for Stute. With four minutes played of injury time, Patterson secured the 3-2 win from the spot after that man, substitute Cushley, was upended in the box.
Another big club from Belfast were on the road and in desperate need of a win. But it was a wonderful header by Sean Clucas in the second half that decided this one for Dungannon giving them the 1-0 win. Glentoran have only collected four points in eight games and today showed it. They just can’t get the rub of the green. Swifts, on the other hand, are now four unbeaten. Glentoran need to find something different. Personally too many men stirring the pot in that dugout. Time for someone to take control and get this talented side moving forward again. Curtis Allen will score goals but he needs the service.
Glenavon needed a win and today, having gone four without and they served up a 3-1 home win against bottom team Ards. Ards turned up having lost there last four away games on the bounce. Andrew Mitchell opened the scoring for the Lurgan Blues, then Josh Daniels made it two just after the break. Michael McLellan scored a well overdue goal for the men from North Down, but it was all in vain as ex-Northern Ireland international Sammy Clingan ended the game off with a cool finish.
So Linfield and Cliftonville… a game marred with more controversy as the Reds took it upon themselves not to shake hands with the Linfield team at the start of the game. Barry Gray needs to answer the question he asked not long ago, why snub a handshake? Fair play and respect for others everything the league try to implement at the grassroots level clearly not being implemented on the main stage. How do we take football forward? For a few hours, the Blues let the old gaffer sit pretty at the top of the table. Then on Saturday afternoon, it was Andrew Waterworth who was unleashed to score a hat-trick in a 4-2 win over Cliftonville. Jimmy Callachers header got the game off and running. It was then the turn of the two most dangerous strikers in the league. First Waterworth got the Blues second before Joe Gormley got a reply for the Reds. Waterworth made it three after wonderful work by Kirk Millar. From a corner, the Reds got back into this game when Jamie Harney finished off from a corner, but it was Waterworth who killed the game off with his hat-trick and Linfield’s fourth to see the South Belfast club move back to the top.
This had goals pencilled in and didn’t disappoint. Warrenpoint have scored in 89% of their home games and Coleraine had gone seven games unbeaten away. But today was the end of that record as Point registered a 2-1 home win. Alan O’Sullivan got the game off and running with the first for Point. The Bannsiders top player at the minute, Darren McCauley, got the equaliser. The Bannsiders have started contract talks with him and personally, their board need to get the finger out and get him signed sooner rather than later. Point collected all 3 points when Robbie Norton converted a penalty after Gareth McConaghie celebrated a good week with a new contract, by upending O’Sullivan to give away a penalty.