Football/Soccer

Stephen Murray hat-trick stretches Glenavon's lead at top of table

Gary Hamilton's Glenavon side at four points clear at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership

Danske Bank Premiership

STEPHEN Murray bagged a hat-trick as Glenavon ended Coleraine's unbeaten record and opened a four-point gap at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership on Saturday.

The Bannsiders took the lead through an Aaron Burns header, but Rhys Marshall equalised before Murray's hat-trick sealed the emphatic 4-1 away win. The margin of their first defeat of the season means Coleraine, last season's runners-up, are down to fifth.

With second-placed Linfield not playing until tonight, against Glentoran, Glenavon are now four points clear of the Blues and nine points ahead of reigning champions Crusaders, who defeated Cliftonville on Friday night.

Ballymena, playing at home for the first time this season, are up to sixth after their win over Newry City. They took the lead after 12 minutes when Leroy Millar's fine curling shot from the edge of the box went in off the bar. Cathair Friel's shot made it two on 64 minutes and Andy McGrory rifled into the roof of the net to cap off an emphatic 3-0 victory.

Warrenpoint moved off the bottom by winning 2-0 away to Dungannon who replace them in the basement position. Ciarán O'Connor put the visitors in front after just three minutes and they maintained that lead thanks to keeper Aaron McCarey's penalty save from Daniel Hughes. O'Connor made it 2-0 seven minutes from time, following up to score after is penalty had struck the post.

A goal for Curtis Allen in tonight’s televised with Linfield at the Oval would make it 100 for the striker at Glentoran and could help the Glens into third place in the table. The Blues remain unbeaten this season, while Glentoran haven’t lost since their opening day defeat to Cliftonville.

Summer signings Joel Cooper, Michael O’Connor and Daniel Kearns have been excellent for Linfield so far this term and they will be key to any hopes the Blues have of cutting the gap to Glenavon.

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