Coleraine maintained their wonderful start to the season with a 2-0 win over Crusaders. Once again Oran Kearney got the better of Stephen Baxter, who must be sick of the sight of Kearney already after his return from St Mirren. Linfield move into fourth place after defeating Ballymena 2-1. The Blues still have three games in hand to play over the Bannsiders, and they are only five points behind. The live entertainment on the BBC on Friday evening was the clash between Larne and Glentoran at Inver Park. What a game and what an evening which saw the Glens run out as 3-2 winners.
Crusaders started the day in first place and came up against a Coleraine team that is the only unbeaten team in the league. Last time out the Bannsiders ran away with an impressive 4-2 win against the Crues. Today they went one better. They left the North Belfast venue with a 2-0 win and top spot to go with it. Things have gone somewhat wrong for the Crues. From an impressive start, they seemed to have sorted out the goals-against problem from last season. In the first six games they have produced five clean sheets, only conceding to Larne. After yesterday it is now 11 goals conceded and I am not going to keep going on like a broken record about where the problem is – I don’t get paid to fix it or sort it. But someone does.
This game was the tale of two penalties. The Crues have not been able to come to terms with the physical side of Eoin Bradley for the last few seasons, and it was the big striker that turned Chris Hegarty inside the box, only for the defender to bring him down. Ben Doherty stepped up from the penalty spot and made it 1-0. Number two came this time as Jordon Forsythe was adjudged to have brought down Doherty in the box. Very soft at a second glance, but Doherty got up and finished off his second penalty of the day and put the Bannsiders to the top of the league.
Cliftonville stayed in second place with a 3-0 away win at second-from-bottom Institue. The Reds have started to get a little bit of a run together of late. Last three games: three wins, three clean sheets to go with it. The impressive Conor McMenamin got the game’s first goal. He cooly slotted the ball home from close range. After this McMenamin got his and the Reds’ second in the second half. He delivered an inch-perfect free-kick into the top corner of the Stute net. The third came from the Reds’ goal machine Joe Gormley who latched onto a wonderful long ball by Conor McDermott and lobbed it over the keeper to make it three. A great result for the Reds who are looking strong as the season moves on.
Friday evening saw a wonderful game played out in front of the cameras as the BBC showed the Larne–Glentoran encounter live. A big well done to everyone involved, and what a game the viewing public witnessed. The Glens came out as 3-2 winners. I personally think there should be more live screenings, and that’s two games this season on a Friday evening with two healthy crowds to go with it. We go on about summer football – how about we look at summer football for the fifty thousand amateur games on a Saturday and let the crowds come back to Saturday Premier League games.
Mark Randall gave the Inver men the lead with a wonderfully taken free-kick into the Glens’ net. But the Glens came right back into the game and edged into the lead. What a find this kid has been, ‘Paul O’Neill’. He got on the end of a ball in the box and fired home to make it 1-1, then he made it 2-1, picking the ball up and driving towards the Larne goal and delivering an unstoppable shot into the net. Sean Graham got Larne back on level terms but it was the Glens who claimed all 3 points after Patrick McClean’s overhead kick.
A free-kick was knocked down by Cameron Stewart to McClean who set himself nicely and delivered the perfect overhead kick into the net. A great way for the Glens to claim all 3 points and the victory. But for all you Irish League fans out there, keep that name – Paul O’Neill, in your head as he is going to be a talent for years to come.
Linfield maintained their good form this season with a good 2-1 home win against a strong Ballymena United team. If the Blues win their three games in hand, they will go top. And so they should. They look like the strongest team in the league at the minute and I am sure they will not let the title be taken away from them without a fight. A wonderful Joel Cooper double put the Blues two up. Cooper is becoming one of the hottest prospects within this great league. The Blues gave themselves a scare late on as Jimmy Callacher scored an own goal, but they held on for the win
Struggling Glenavon really needed a win and something positive. And they couldn’t have asked for a better game: away to the bottom team Warrenpoint Town. The Lurgan Blues duly obliged and came away with a much needed 3-1 win. We had to wait until the second-half to see any sort of scoring, and it was the Lurgan Blues that got it. Rhys Marshall latching onto a through ball and scored. The Point then got right back on level terms, as a corner was not dealt with by the Lurgan Blues and the Points’ Danny Wallace was on hand to level.
An Aaron Harmon corner was met by Eoin Wearen to make it 2-1 to the Lurgan Blues. And it was the Lurgan Blues who completed the scoring through Andrew Mitchell to give Gary Hamilton’s men a much-needed win and three valuable points to go with it.
Last but not least, a big well done to Carrick Rangers who claimed their first win at home this season. They entertained a very inconsistent Dungannon Swifts, defeating them 1-0. The only goal of the game came through Daniel Kelly, getting his head onto a James Ferrin cross.