- Crusaders take the spoils in the first North Belfast derby
- The Champions Linfield get a hard-earned win away to Ballymena United
- Glentoran are unable to see off the nine-man Glenavon at the Oval.
The first game of the weekend was the first North Belfast derby which was streamed live on the BBC Sport website. Crusaders ended up running out 1-0 winners over Cliftonville. That’s two out of two for the Crues, both with clean sheets. You can clearly see how Stephen Baxter is going to try and disrupt teams and bully them. If it works, it works. The Reds after their great start win a game against the Glens last weekend, and will think they should have done better here. But in truth, the Crues went into battle and wanted the win.
The only goal of the game came in the second half. A long ball forward from substitute Rory Hale, up towards Jordan Owens, who then beat Richard Brush to the ball to put it in the net.
The BBC’s second live stream of the weekend came from the Ballymena Showgrounds as the Champions Linfield played Ballymena United. The Sky Blues started this game very lively, but it was the Blues who took the lead early on, with Kirk Millar scoring after great work from Navid Nasseri. It was that man Nasseri who scored a quite sublime goal to make it 2-0.
If you were a Sky Blues fan you had probably started to creep down the back of the sofa at this point, but new signing Paul McElroy gave them a lifeline from the penalty spot. The most-fouled man in the Irish League game, Jamie Mulgrew, this time pulling down Shay McCartan in the box.
It took the Blues around 10 minutes to give themselves that two-goal cushion again. Kirk Millar with the cross onto the head of Jordon Stewart – who put the ball home. Right at the end of the game, the Sky Blues pulled a goal back through Leroy Millar, but it was all too little, too late – since the Champions made it two from two.
Last year’s runners up Coleraine, were the visitors at Shamrock Park to take on newly-promoted Portadown. The Ports had a great return to the top flight last week. They saw off neighbours Glenavon, but on Saturday they got a little bit of an education, as one of the strongest teams in the league put three past them.
The Bannsiders took the lead through Ben Doherty after his penalty was kept out by the Ports keeper, Ben Pierce, the midfielder followed up with the rebound. The Ports manager was sent to the stands for descent after the decision of the penalty. It took the Bannsiders until the second half to get their second with Jamie Glackin getting on the end of a long throw to tap in. James McLaughlin made it three in the closing stages of the second half.
Larne, another team that has kept a 100% record, were the visitor at Taylors avenue as they took on Carrick Rangers in the first East Antrim Derby of the season. The Inver Reds ran out 2-1 winners as they got the first of the day from the penalty spot. It has been a couple of weeks of terrible referring decisions – and if I was a Carrick player, I wouldn’t have been happy with this one. Nevertheless, Andrew Mitchell slotted home the spot-kick to give the Inver Reds the lead.
It wasn’t until late in the second half that the Inver Reds got their second of the game. Substitute Mark Randall got his head onto a Martin Donnelly free-kick. Carrick got a late consolation through a Caolon Loughran penalty, but it was all too little too late. That is two games, two defeats for Niall Curries men.
At the Oval on Saturday, Glenavon were the visitors for Glentoran. They both played out a 1-1- draw which saw the Lurgan Blues finish the game with nine men. I don’t pretend to be a Glen’s supporter, but if I was, I would not be happy at the start the team has had this season. Yes, two games in, but this is a team that has been built on high wages and experience. This team should be seeing off a team which is reduced to nine men. One point in two games for Mick McDermott – not good enough!
The Lurgan Blues went for the Glens in this one and were flying into every challenge, but that’s what the Glens players need to get used to. It’s good playing at a higher standard, but our wee league is a different proposition altogether. The Lurgan Blues had been reduced to 10 men in the first half when Andrew Doyle was sent to the stands for a reckless challenge. Peter Campbell then got his marching orders for a second bookable offence in the second half to reduce the Lurgan Blues to nine men.
The Glens then took the lead from the penalty spot. Robbie McDaid on his return from injury finished from the spot. But the lead lasted all of two minutes as the nine men of the Lurgan Blues got themselves an equaliser. Calum Birney getting his head on the end of a Conor McCloskey free-kick.
Dungannon Swifts prop up the bottom of the table as they were beaten at home 2-0 by Warrenpoint Town. A little bit of De-ja-Vu here. The Swifts had a horrible start to the 2019/2020 season where they propped up the bottom spot for a good part of the first half of the season. I worry for them this season though. As the teams around them, like the Point, which they should be beating, have all strengthened well.
Goals form Kealan Dillion and Alan O’Sullivan were enough to give the Point all three points. That’s two games in for the Swifts and two defeats. They really need to be winning a home game or this will be one long season ahead.
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