Danske Bank Premiership

Week 10 saw Glenavon stay top, two wonderful long-distance efforts, a goalscoring record equalled, and not a clean sheet to be had. All in all another exciting week of entertainment from the 12 teams in the Danske Bank Premiership.

Cliftonville 3-1 Ards

So a mini-revival is underway for Cliftonville. Since their nightmare show at Warrenpoint, the Reds have got themselves back to winning ways with two wins in a row. Next up for the Reds will be the first televised game on BBC 2 on Friday evening. A few people and I had the writing on the wall for Barry Gray. But credit where it is due. The man has got the team playing again and they seem to have lifted themselves for him. This can only be a good thing all-round. Last time Ards defeated the Reds at Solitude was back in 2006 and they have yet to register a goal in four games.

What was a great result for the Reds started with Ards on the ascendancy. Michael McLellan got them off the mark on 34 mins. A long ball forward was not dealt with by the Reds defence. The ball bounced up off the surface and sat just right for McLellan to stoke a wonderful effort over the head of Richard Brush. It took until the 79th min for the Reds to get an equaliser. Some nice build-up play saw the ball delivered into the Ards box where Joe Gormley was waiting to slot the ball home. The Reds pressure eventually paid off on 87 mins. Conor McMenamin with a shot that seemed to take a deflection on its way to the goal. The Reds finished the game off in injury time and it was that man Gormley again, the league’s top scorer was put through one-on-one with the keeper and he made no mistake with the finish. The goal saw Gormley equal the Reds all-time scoring record held by Kevin McGarry with 170 goals.

Great afternoon for Gray’s men, they have got themselves together and have now started to get the results needed. Ards again showed their stubborn side and there will be teams in the league that will struggle to break them down.

Glenavon 2-1 Dungannon Swifts

Today saw Glenavon maintain their lead at the top of the league. Gary Hamilton’s men have been on a great run of late, and their free-scoring has made them very easy on the eye. Kris Lindsay made a quick return to Mournview this afternoon, only this time in the opposition dugout. A nice win during the week gives Kris something to work on. He has already made it clear he will come in with his own ideas, which can only be good to for the club.

Glenavon got off the mark just before halftime. A lovely move between Stephen Murray and Josh Daniels saw the ball end up at the feet of Andy Hall who slotted it home. The omens must have been good for Glenavon as out of 13 league games Andy Hall has scored Glenavon haven’t lost. Number two came on the 62nd min. Dubious, contentious, a call for offside heard on deaf ears, but Andy Mitchell did what all good strikers should do, play on and put the ball in the net. Kris Lowe pulled a goal back on 75 mins but it was too little too late for the Swifts. 

Glenavon are riding high at the top of the Premiership and it is fully deserved. The season is a long one and I am sure that they will be thereabouts in May. All change for Dungannon and it will take time for Kris Lindsay to find his feet at the club, but all managers need time and I hope he gets it.

 Institute 1-4 Crusaders

Its been a tough few weeks for Crusaders. Lacklustre performances capped off with a defeat at the hands of a manager-less Dungannon midweek, the pressure was mounting. Stute themselves have come off the back of a defeat. Their home form has been really encouraging considering they have had to move into the Brandywell.

The Crues got the afternoon off to a great start on 30 mins. Rory Patterson’s drive from a Ross Clarke cross put the Crues one up. Happy homecoming for the ex-Derry City striker. Stute was level eight mins later. Jamie McIntyre with a superb low drive. Crusaders got themselves back into the lead straight after the interval. A Paul Heatley effort came off the crossbar where Owens was on hand to finish. Crues got their third on 73 mins. Captain Colin Coates scrambling on the ball after a Ross Clarke cross was not dealt with. The goal of the game came on 76 mins. Jordan Forsythe stole the show. Forsythe looked up and spotted Martin Gallagher off his line. From just over the halfway line Forstyhe lobbed the ball over the keeper into the net. “Wonderful finish”.

Great day at the office for Stephen Baxter’s men. Just what the doctor ordered. This should push them on and give them something to build on with North Belfast derby looming. Stute needs to get their season back on track. Back to back defeats, a little work needed there to stop the little slide.

Linfield 2-1 Ballymena Utd

Big Davy Jeffery makes a return to his spiritual home. His team has been inconsistent of late, and I am sure they will be eager to get back and playing again at The Showgrounds. The Blues maintain second place and an unbeaten record but have been looking stronger with every game played. Once again Joel Cooper is showing the bright talent he is. Remember the name because this kid is going places.

It was Ballymena too that got the mark first. A Leroy Millar corner was met by the head of Cathair Friel. Friel’s header went into the net past Roy Carroll. The game was level just before the break, and it was that man Michael O’Connor who just keeps popping up in the right place at the right time. O’Connor got himself on the end of a Matthew Clarke cross to finish. Then it was over to Joel Cooper to seal all three points for the Blues. Cooper picked up the ball and drove a beautiful shot into the net. That was Cooper’s 5th goal of the season, four of them coming at Windsor and the lad has truly taken to his new surroundings. 

The Blues maintain the pressure on the leaders, and also their charge to regaining the title. Ballymena will go away thinking they should have at least got a point from this game, and with one very big call against them by the officials you could feel their pain.

Newry 1-1 Coleraine

Today saw Coleraine register their fourth draw on the trot. The Bannsiders, now under the management of Rodney McAree, will be looking to get the winning formula back that seen them go so close to winning the title last season. Newry sits 8th in the league but only three points between them and bottom place Warrenpoint. 

It was the home side that took the lead. Mark Hughes’ free-kick was flicked on by Declan Carville into the Bannsiders net. Coleraine equalised in the second half. Ian Parkills through ball was converted by Aaron Burns. 

A game both teams could have won, but for Newry, another point collected which I am sure they would have taken at the start of the day.

Warrenpoint Town 1-1 Glentoran

This week sees more wrangling and bad press for the Oval outfit. Not the greatest way for the players to be prepping for this. The season has started well for Glentoran and the off-field problems are just not what they want. Warrenpoint is at the bottom but it is very congested there. Points are a must for the Co Down outfit.

Glentoran took the lead on 14 mins. Ross Redman’s corner was met by the head of John Herron. The ex Celtic man powered his header into the net. Warrenpoint were reduced to ten men when Danny Wallace was sent off for a second bookable offence. This should have been curtains for Point, but they rallied together and got the equaliser. Alan O’Sullivan and Ciaran O’Connor combined and O’Connor scored. Point could have stolen all 3 points at the end only for Elliott Morris to come to the rescue of the Glens.

Not the Glentoran we have come to expect this season. Point need to keep collecting points and fighting for each other as this is going to be one long season ahead.