Linfield have now firmly got their hands back on the Gibson Cup after beating Institute at home. Ballymena’s momentum at the top suffers by losing at home for the first time this season, and it’s normal service at the bottom of the table for Ards.
Before Linfield’s home game against Institute, the Blues had gone eight games unbeaten at home. Make that nine now after the Blues ran out 2-0 winners and moved nine points clear at the top of the table. The Blues are now in top gear as they march on to reclaim the Gibson Cup. It took patience and time for the Blues to break down Stute. Two goals in the second half were enough to get the Blues over the line. The first was a pure thunderbolt from Jordan Stewart. The second a header from Josh Robinson rising unopposed to finish off a corner. Another win and another step towards the title for this Linfield team. What a difference a year makes.
Well, well, well. Glentoran went to the Ballymena Showgrounds to take on Ballymena United and came away with a 2-0 win. No-one gave the Glens a chance. All the talk was about the Sky Blues keeping the pressure on Linfield. That is most probably that for the Sky Blues. An awful lot of work went on behind the scenes to get their much talked about playing surface ready for the game. They would have probably been better just leaving the covers off.
The Glens rising young talent Paul O’Neill put them one up early on. Curtis Allen broke the Sky Blues’ offside trap to put a ball into the box where O’Neill delightfully hooked the ball into the Sky Blues’ net. The Glens went two up through Robbie McDaid. A great ball was played through to him and he didn’t need a second bite of the cherry to finish.
A nice win for the Glens and Gary Smyth but for the Sky Blues three points that will be seen as dropped. A huge dent in their title run and they should now be looking over their shoulders as the Crues are now starting to close in.
Crusaders beat Cliftonville 2-0 in the last game to be played at Seaview this season. The Crues now go into the split having to play the next five games away from home. The official statement from the club was “we have already played the top teams twice at home this season”. What an answer! If this is the case, who is in the chair making the decisions with stuff like this. Not only does it have financial implications, but it also has implications on the Crues pushing for the final European place. Do you think when the clubs split in Scotland, the SPFL would ask Celtic to play the remaining games they have away from home? I will leave that thought with you.
To the game. It was the tale of the two Owens brothers who finished this game off in the first half. I was half expecting Joe Gormley to come out firing after his press release this week, but the only thing he was firing was verbals between himself and the Crues fans.
The Crues’ first goal was finished off by Jordan Owens. The big man put a fine header past Richard Brush in the Reds’ net. Number two came from his brother Kyle. A free kick into the box saw everyone leave it, only for Owens to put his foot in to connect and finish.
This win keeps the Crues right in the fight for that second spot. It is not going to be easy as their next five games are away, and with the sending off of influential midfielder Rory Hale for a second bookable offence, it’s going to be a hard task for the Crues.
Normal service resumed for Ards as they went down 1-0 to unpredictable Warrenpoint Town. The short honeymoon period is over. Two games unbeaten certainly, but Warren Feeney will now realise that the job on his hands will not be plain sailing. They currently sit one point ahead of Newry who are in bottom spot and are by no way out of that automatic relegation place. The only goal of the game came through Seanna Foster who latched onto a through ball to round Ards ‘keeper Sam Johnston to finish.
Glenavon kept their good form up, and in the eye-line of the Crues with a 1-0 win over Dungannon Swifts. One loss in seven games has been a good return and it’s the tale of ‘if only’. Had they steadied the ship when Mark Sykes signed for Oxford United, they would have been a team right in the title mix. The Swifts have secured their place at the top table for next season. Kris Lindsay took over a team sitting in the bottom two with no luck at all and he’s done exactly what other football fans in the country thought he would do.
The game was won by a single goal from the ever-impressive Josh Daniels. His deflected shot was the only goal of the game. I really hope that the Lurgan Blues have this kid on some sort of long-term contract. He is one of the most exciting young players in the league.
Friday night and Coleraine travelled to bottom team Newry City and registered a 4-1 win. City will feel that lady luck has forgotten all about them. They just can’t get the rub of the green. This game was no different which saw their manager Darren Mullen come out and be critical of the officials. On this performance, he has every right. Lucky for me the powers that be can’t fine me, but for Mullen, I think he will have a nice e-mail in his inbox come Monday morning.
The first of the night for the Bannsiders came from the boot of Dean Shiels. City were aggrieved that the referee didn’t blow in the build-up. Eoin Bradley seemingly making contact with the ball in the build-up. The referee had a perfect view of the incident but still looked to his assistant for advice. The night was about to get worse for City. Dale Montgomery seeing red for a raised foot. Montgomery had already picked up a yellow for protesting at the first goal.
To their credit City got back into the game in the second half. A long ball over the top of the Bannsiders’ defence saw Tiarnan Rushe sprint clear and calmly finish. The game started to open and it wasn’t long till the Bannsiders’ numerical advantage paid off. Jamie Glackin put a cross in that eventually found Cormac Burke who did the rest. Next up for the Bannsiders was the pick of them all. Bradley showed great strength to win the ball on the halfway line. Closing in on the goal and City keeper Andy Coleman, Bradley delightfully lofted the ball over him to make it 3-1. The fourth came from another long ball. This time substitute James McLaughlin running clear and finishing to make it four.
It’s hard at the bottom. But on a plus side if you can call it that, City are still only a point behind Ards. This should be enough of an incentive if they want to stay up because they still have a chance.