Stoppage time goals for Crusaders in each half, Coleraine stuttering at home, red cards for Ballymena and Linfield and 14 goals scored. It was what you call a grand ole Irish League weekend.
Ards 4-0 Newry City
Great night of football at the Bangor Fuels Arena. Three games three losses so far for Ards and they needed a lift to get the season going, and oh how they did it. Mark Kelly opened the scoring for Ards on 26 minutes as he directed his header past the Newry keeper to take the lead. Jonny Frazer made it 2-0 on 37 minutes with Kym Nelson extending the home side advantage two minutes from the break with a curling free kick into the top corner. Newry had the opportunity to pull a goal back when they were awarded a penalty just before the hour only to see Sam Johnston save Stephen Hughes’ spot kick. Ards hit their fourth goal on 78 minutes when Fraser converted his second of the game with a volley into the roof of the net.
Coleraine 2-2 Institute
Last season’s runners-up entertained newly promoted Institute at the Showgrounds. The deadlock was broken on 40 minutes by Stute when a corner was converted by the head of Dean Curry. Coleraine pulled themselves level in the 53rd minute with Jamie McGonigle converting Stephen Lowry’s cross. Coleraine extended their lead at 71 minutes when Brad Lyons rose above everyone to power home a header. Stute came looking for the equaliser, and it came on the 79 minute. Callum Moorehead travelled with the ball into the box when he was upended by Stephen Lowry. Michael McCrudden converted the penalty to put himself at the top of the goalscoring charts with four goals in four games for Stute.
Glenavon 4-0 Ballymena United
Friday night saw Glenavon go top, if only for 24 hours. A scoreless first half and a challenge that could well be forgotten about. Just before the end of the first half, Andrew Burns was shown a yellow card on what only could be said to be a reckless challenge by the player. This spurred Glenavon on and on the 58th minute they took the lead through Aaron Harmon. It was 2-0 on 67 minutes with a Josh Daniels looping header at the back post. Substitute Stephen Murray added a third on 76 minutes with Andy Hall completing the scoring after great work down the left by Josh Daniels and Ben Doherty to fire Glenavon to the top of the league for the evening.
Cliftonville 1-1 Linfield
Linfield travelled to North Belfast trying to make it four wins from four and move straight back to the top of the pile. The first half started slowly, with not many chances of note until the first major talking point of the game! Linfield’s Jamie Mulgrew being shown a straight red card for what looks like the two players going for the ball, but at the speed it happened the referee had a split second to make his mind up and the red card was drawn. On 73 minutes the deadlock was broken when Joe Gormley headed The Reds in front after Jay Donnelly pick him out. Linfield battled on and four minutes from time scored the equaliser. Andrew Mitchell with a wonderful pinpoint cross into the Cliftonville box for Michael O’Connor to poke home to send the blues back to the top and continue with their 100% unbeaten record.
Glentoran 2-1 Dungannon Swifts
Glentoran moved up to fourth in the league with a well-deserved win at the Oval against Dungannon Swifts. Calum Birney opened the scoring for the Glens in the 3rd minute. A scramble in the box after a Glentoran corner saw Birney find the net at the second attempt after his first attempt was blocked. Glentoran doubled their lead on 32 minutes through Curtis Allen. Allen got himself onto the end of a Dylan Davidson cross and headed it into the net. ‘Clinical Allen’. Dungannon to their credit kept working away and on the 86th minute got their reward when Chris Hegarty headed the ball past Elliot Morris in the Glens goal to give the Swifts a consolation goal.
Warrenpoint Town 1-2 Crusaders
It was the case of ‘the stoppage time Crues’ today that frustrated Town out of what was a great team display. New signing, Cameroonian stopper Maxim Kougun powered in a header to give point the lead on 38 minutes. The Crues pulled one back in stoppage time at the end of the first half. A floated corner into the Town box was met by the head of J. Owens who powered it into the top right-hand corner. Trademark Crusaders! Point had a wonderful opportunity to put themselves ahead again after being awarded a penalty, which Griffin couldn’t convert. The game was won in stoppage with substitute Philip Lowry putting his head on the end of a Clarke corner to win the game for the Crues.