Irish Premiership Round-Up: Ballymena United overcome Linfield to go top

Sat, Dec 01 2018

Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey led Linfield to nine titles in 17 years. Credit: Jason O'Callaghan

Ballymena United came from behind to beat Linfield 2-1 at the Showgrounds on Saturday afternoon and leapfrog the Blues to go two points clear at the top of the table.

Linfield topped the table going into the day’s fixtures and looked set to extend their lead when Andrew Waterworth turned home Stephen Fallon’s cross with just four minutes on the clock.

Cathair Friel equalised six minutes into the second half with a header from Stephen McCullough’s cross, and Leroy Millar completed the turnaround with a low shot just before the hour.

Linfield laid siege to the Ballymena goal late on but David Jeffrey’s side held out against the club he famously led to nine league titles over a 17-year period.

Glenavon missed out on an opportunity to move into second place as they were held to an exhilarating 3-3 draw by Institute at Mourneview Park.

Stephen Murray fired Glenavon into an early lead but they were pegged back within 60 seconds when Joe McCready found the net for Stute.

The Derry side twice led through Mark Scoltock and Michael McCrudden, but twice the Lurgan Blues struck back through Andrew Mitchell and, finally, Conor McCloskey.  

Crusaders remain fourth despite being held to a 2-2 draw by Glentoran in a bad-tempered game at the Oval.

The away side finished the first half with nine men, while Glentoran also had a man dismissed following a melée in injury time.

Paul Heatley gave Crues the lead after 16 minutes, but John Herron levelled things up for the home side just past the half-hour.

Rory Patterson put the champions back in front, but the game turned on its head when Kyle Owens was dismissed for a second yellow card just before the break.

Robbie McDaid made it 2-2 from the subsequent free kick, but there was to be more drama in injury as Patterson and John McGuigan were both dismissed.

A bad challenge on Heatley resulted in clashes between both sets of players and a number were cautioned before Patterson and McGuigan were shown straight red cards.

Cliftonville moved within three points of fourth-placed Crues despite going behind early on at home to Dungannon Swifts.

A Jamie Harney own goal put Swifts ahead, but braces from Rory Donnelly and Joe Gormley, plus one from Chris Curran, saw the Reds to a comfortable win.

All the action at Clandeboye Park took place in the space of 60 second-half minutes as Michael McLellan’s goal for Ards was quickly cancelled out by Eamon Scanell of Warrenpoint Town.

And in Friday’s game, Newry City moved within a point of safety as they shocked last year’s runners-up Coleraine at Ballycastle Road thanks to Mark McCabe’s goal.