Danske Bank Premiership: Linfield go five clear at top after win over Crusaders
Danske Bank Premiership
LINFIELD tightened their grip at the top of the Irish League table on Saturday night with a dramatic late win over Crusaders at Seaview.
Crusaders had looked the more dangerous side on the Shore Road and David Healy's men may have been content with a point until Jimmy Callacher headed home in injury-time.
In a game in which Crusaders twice had attempts cleared off the line, Niall Quinn opened the scoring for Linfield directly from a corner on 71 minutes. Philip Lowry bundled home an 88th minute equaliser from a corner before Callacher won it for the visitors.
The defeat ended a run of 12 games unbeaten at Seaview for Stephen Baxter's men while the three points sent Linfield five clear at the top of the table.
Linfield's closest title contenders Larne were unable to keep the pace on Saturday as they let a one-goal lead slip at Inver Park to draw with Warrenpoint Town.
The hosts made a strong start and Jonathan McMurray slotted in the opener after just 10 minutes. But Warrenpoint fought their way back into the game and were rewarded for a sustained spell of pressure in the second-half. Daniel Byrne headed in at the back post from Kealan Dillon's free-kick with 10 minutes left to leave Larne without a home win in four games.
A late Jamie McDonagh stunner left Cliftonville heartbroken at the Oval after they had looked set to secure a point on their travels. The game was set for a stalemate until substitute McDonagh produced a spectacular right-footed half-volley from distance to clinch three points for the Glens in the 89th-minute.
Chris Gallagher had a late penalty saved by Reds 'keeper Aaron McCarey after Garry Breen's foul on Conor McMenamin, who was playing against his old team for the first time since last week's move across town. Breen received a second yellow card for the challenge.
Cliftonville struggled to get going throughout the game, but they had a penalty appeal of their own waved away when Barry Coffey was brought down inside the box by Glentoran captain Marcus Kane in the first-half.
Adam Salley grabbed a point for Portadown before seeing red as the visitors earned a point against Coleraine at the Showgrounds. The hosts took the lead in the 67th minute as substitute Stewart Nixon scored with his second touch. Salley lashed in a superb half-volley six minutes later, but was shown a straight red card for a late lunge on Lyndon Kane.
Carrick Rangers ended a run of six consecutive league defeats with a deserved 2-0 win over a poor Dungannon Swifts at Stangmore Park. Mark Surgenor's wonderful free-kick gave Carrick the half-time lead before Jordan Gibson's 79th minute strike sealed the win.
Glenavon claimed their first victory of 2021 with a well-deserved 2-1 success over Ballymena United in Lurgan. First-half goals from Conor McCloskey and a Michael O'Connor penalty laid the groundwork for Gary Hamilton's side. Ballymena scored in injury-time via Josh Kelly.
Danske Bank Premiership: Coleraine 1 Portadown 1, Dungannon Swifts 0 Carrick Rangers 2, Glenavon 2 Ballymena United 1, Glentoran 1 Cliftonville 0, Larne 1 Warrenpoint Town 1, Crusaders 1 Linfield 2