Week 5 saw goals rain down for the Sky Blues at the Q Radio Arena, whilst TV Cameras were in town to see the Irish League take over Monday night football on Sky TV with the Coleraine running out worthy winners.
Glenavon 1-1 Glentoran
Hard fought draw for both teams see Glenavon move back up to 2nd in the table. Glentoran made the stronger start of the two teams having carved out some good opportunities, the best of them coming from Calum Birney who just failed to get himself onto the end of a William Garrett header. Second half, two goals and the game is alive. Glentoran opened the scoring on 60 mins after Ross Redman’s corner was met by the head of Robbie McDaid, who duly obliged to put the ball in the net. Glenavon fought there way back into the game and on 70 mins they were awarded a penalty after Garrett nudged Andrew Mitchell onto the on-rushing Elliot Morris. The referee had no hesitation to point to the spot. Stephen Murray cooly finished the resulting penalty.
Institute 0-0 Dungannon Swifts
Plenty of opportunities for both sides in this encounter, just the finishing touches that were missing. Institute have made a steady return to the top division taking 7 points out of a possible 12 and playing some ‘easy on the eye’ football. The best chance of note in the first half fell to Gareth Brown. The ball was worked out to Institute’s top scorer Michael McCrudden, who in turn this time turned provider and delivered a pin-point cross into the six-yard box for Brown, who couldn’t get a connection on the ball. After the break Institute went close again with Ronan Doherty testing the Swifts keeper from 30 yards. Dungannon’s best chance came to Jonny Lafferty. He got himself onto a cross from the right from Cormac Burke, only to direct his header straight at the Institute keeper. Institute nearly clinched all 3 points at the end but McCrudden couldn’t finish after the great work from Callum Moorehead from 12 yards out.
Linfield 0-0 Ards
Linfield missed the chance to take all 3 points at home to Ards today, but still remain 1 point ahead of Glenavon at the top of the table. Linfield started the stronger side with the best opportunity coming from good work by Joel Cooper. Cooper picked out a pass to Andrew Waterworth, whose shot came off the out-rushing Samuel Johnston. The ball was heading to the top right corner of the Ards net before Jonny Frazer sublimely cleared it off the line. A moment to forget for Chris Casement when he was dispossessed by David McCallister, who then went one on one with Roy Carroll only to see the shot saved and sent away for a corner. The second half saw Linfield come out and try and search for the all-important first goal. The first opportunity of note came when Daniel Kearns picked up the ball inside the Ards half and delivered a perfect 25-yard cross field ball to Casement on the right. Casement put the ball into the box for Waterworth to connect with, who put it onto the crossbar from 3 yards out. Ards nearly stole all 3 points at the end when Joshua Kelly found Michael McLellan. McLellan turned and delivered a wonderful cross to the onrushing Kyle Cherry at the back post, who in turn headed it over.
Newry 1-0 Cliftonville
Cliftonville travelled to Newry today having played 3 games without a win. Chris Curran had the best opportunity for the visitors in the first half when he outmuscled Darren Kelly on the Newry right, then fired a tame shot at Newry goalkeeper Seamus Coleman. The breakthrough came on 52 mins and it was Newry who obliged. Mark Hughes’ free-kick from the left found its way to the head of John Boyle, who directed his header goal-wards into the net, through the legs of Richard Brush. Cliftonville’s afternoon went from bad to worse when Jamie Harney was sent off for a professional foul. Stefan Lavery raced onto a long ball from Conall Delaney and was upended by Harney. Straight Red! Cliftonville thought they had earned a penalty in the dying minutes when a shot from the edge of the box hit Darren King as he slid in to block the shot. Cliftonville claims for handball were quickly turned down by the referee.
Warrenpoint Town 1-6 Ballymena Utd
The sky opened up and the goals rained in for a rampant Ballymena. Their afternoon got off to a wonderful start on 9 mins when Jonathan Addis got himself on the end of a James Knowles cross to put it past the Warrenpoint keeper who was nowhere to be seen. The second for the Sky Blues came of 17 minutes when Jude Winchester was upended in the box by Anton Rielly, and up stepped James Knowles to convert the penalty into the bottom right-hand corner. Stephen McCullough then got in on the action. The former Carrick Rangers defender cut inside the Warrenpoint box and directed his shot into the bottom right-hand corner to make it 3 on 26 mins. The Sky Blues dominant first half was finished off by Reece Glenndinning on 41 mins. Maxim Kouogun got himself in all sorts of trouble in the corner and was quickly dispossessed by William Faulkner who passed the ball to the onrushing Glenndinning to slot the ball home. Warrenpoint came out of the changing rooms after a half-time team talk to get themselves back into the game on 51 mins. A long ball over the top was picked up by O’Sullivan who muscled his way into the box around the keeper and slotting the ball into the net. Their come back was short lived. James Knowles who on the balance of play was having a very instrumental afternoon put a through ball into the path of the onward rushing Cathair Friel who duly obliged with the finish. The Sky Blues rounded up the scoring on 69 mins when Friel broke free down the right this time to become the provider with a low cross into the feet of Ryan Mayse who slotted the ball home under pressure from the covering defender.
Crusaders 0-3 Coleraine
Irish league football return to the screens of Sky Sports on Monday evening. A fitting way to start with last years champions taking last years runners-up. The game got off to a great start for Coleraine when they took the lead on 11 mins. An Eoin Bradley shot could only be parried by Sean O’Neill into the path of Josh Carson, who slid in to score the first goal of the night. Into the second half and Coleraine doubled their lead. Sean Ward slip on 65 mins allowed Jame McGonigle to pick up the ball and fire low past the Crusaders goalkeeper. McGonigle scored his second of the night, Coleraine’s third on 70 mins. The impressive striker hit a shot from 25 yards out. Michael O’Neill who was watching on must have been impressed with what he had seen from McGonigle. All in all a great performance and result for Coleraine which lifts them to the top of the pile on goal difference.