Danske Bank Premiership

Ballymena stay top of the lot. A mouthwatering 26 goals went in over the six games played, Ards stay bottom and Crusaders went to the National Stadium with the biggest present for rivals Linfield.

What a game the paying fans got at Solitude on Saturday. Cliftonville, unbeaten in their last eight home games, entertained Glenavon. A team looking to get their season kick-started again. Rory Donnelly got the first of his two goals today to give the Reds the lead. Glenavon came back with two goals of their own through Conor McCloskey and Andrew Mitchell.

Stephen Garrett got the Reds level with a wonderful header, but it was that man Donnelly who was on hand to put the Reds ahead. Conor McDonald finished off a lovely counter-attack to seal a 4-2 win and a move up to fourth place for the Reds.

On another note; fingers crossed that the rumour mill is correct. Mark Sykes might be on his way to England in the near future. I said it at the start of the season, the lad was going places, and with the imminent offer from Port Vale due, all that is left to say is well done and good luck for the bright future you have ahead of you.

So Ards forgot the script today and were the only team not to register a goal. Sitting last and having lost 75% of their games away, they didn’t disappoint bettors today. On the other hand, Rodney McAree needed a break and today he got it through striker Jamie McGonigle. His goal gave the Bannsiders a 1-0 win. A win is a win. McGonigle has been out due to injuries of late and this lad has been missed by Coleraine. Can they hold onto him in the January window? Let’s see.

Well, strike me down. Two away games and four points for the team that couldn’t buy an away point in their previous eight attempts. Hats off to Newry. Today’s 1-1 draw away to Dungannon sees them move four points away from bottom team Ards. The game was a tight affair and Newry must have thought they had stolen the points when they took the lead through Declan Carville.

Dungannon have scored a goal in each of their last seven games and it took them all of nine minutes to keep that wonderful stat going. Paul McElroy was in the right place at the right time to finish off a rebound.

At the Brandywell it definitely is not ‘home is where the heart is’ for Institute. They have conceded at least one goal in their last five home games, and have lost their last four at home. Today they entertained Glentoran, who duly obliged by scoring the first through John Herron. The Glen’s have registered a goal in the first half in 62% of the games they have played and they didn’t disappoint.

Stute got straight back into the game, even if it was through an own goal. Dylan Davidson turning the ball into his own net. Just before the break the Glen’s took the lead. This time it was Robbie McDaid who challenged the keeper. In the eyes of the referee, it was fair to put both the ball and keeper into the net.

In this topsy-turvy encounter, it was Stute that drew level. Alan Harkin… take a bow. A lovely free kick from outside the box. Over to Glen’s in form hit man McDaid to put the Glen’s in the lead again. A wonderful individual effort from the frontman. This game had something else in it. This time it was Stute’s turn to pull another goal back. Joe McCready with a wonderful effort from outside the box with two minutes to go. 3-3 the final score.

With a heavy heart, I will try and explain this one. Crusaders went to the national stadium to take on Linfield. Crues have won their last five away and Stephen Baxter decided to bring Matthew Snoddy back into the engine room. Why? Only Baxter can answer that. The Crues had no recognised striker and had conceded 27 goals already this season. On the other hand, Linfield had scored 35. The writing was on the wall from the off.

Joel Cooper got the game off and running. The Crues midfield must have been still boarding the bus at Seaview when this one went in. Minutes later it was two. A corner into the box was totally misjudged by Kyle Owens, and Jimmy Callacher headed home. Terrible defending! Next goal was schoolboy stuff. “Embarrassing”. Harry Doherty was not strong enough, Jordon Forsythe with a lazy clearance, and in the end, Josh Robinson was on hand for the third.

The next was a wonderful goal from Jordon Stewart. Started by a little nutmeg by Joel Cooper on Sean Ward. It was like watching George Best just walk through a defence. This defence was awful and they didn’t want to make a challenge. Wonderful solo effort.

The Blues have conceded a goal in each of their last five games at home, and they conceded here. Philip Lowry made it 4-2. Lowry was introduced at halftime due to a tactical mess up before the game. In many eyes, he should have started this game instead of certain underachieving players.

The league leader took the long trip to Warrenpoint for this good-looking encounter on paper. Ballymena have scored in 91% of away games played and Point have scored in 90% of games played this season.  This had goals written all over it.

Point took the lead through a Robbie Norton penalty. The leaders didn’t take long to pull this game back. Three mins later they were level through Cathair Friel. Friel doubled his tally for the day in first-half injury time with a wonder volley from outside the box. Another player picked out by myself as “one to watch” this season.

Straight after the break, the Sky Blues came back out like a bull in a bullring and killed off Point with a third. This time it was Adam Lecky. A simple tap in after a knockdown into his path. The game was wrapped up by James Knowles. Knowles started and finished the move to make it 4-2 for the Sky Blues.

Danske Bank Premiership