Premiership leaders Cliftonville had a comfortable victory over Donegal Celtic at Solitude on Friday night to continue their early season good form and stay ahead of Coleraine on goal difference.
With Donegal Celtic currently second from bottom in the Premiership, after failing to earn a win in their opening nine games, the result has meant that manager Stephen Small has left the club by “mutual consent”.
Both sides had chances to take the lead in the first half before George McMullan put the home side ahead from the penalty spot just before the break. The midfielder then saw his cross-cum-shot deflected into the net off a Celtic defender as Cliftonville took control of the second half.
Joe Gormley sealed the points for the Reds late on and although Mark McSkimmin grabbed a late consolation for the visitors the result was never in question.
The win meant that Cliftonville were outright leaders for 24 hours as Coleraine played the only Danske Irish Premeirship on Saturday afternoon when they welcomed Dungannon Swifts to the Showgrounds where they ran out comfortable 2-0 winners.
The Bannsiders were two goals up after twenty minutes through Stephen Lowry and Paul Owens and were never in any real danger from a Swifts side that stay in eighth place with just two wins from their nine league matches.
Glentoran stay in third but lost ground on the leaders as David Howland’s fine second half strike was cancelled out by an injury time goal from Ballymena United’s Gary Thompson to deny Eddie Patterson’s men three points on the road.
They are joined on seventeen points by Ballinamallard United who made it four wins in a row with a 2-1 victory over Glenavon in Ferney Park. The Fermanagh team got off to a great start with a goal after just 47 seconds by Ryan Campbell and Jason McCartney put them two up with a close range strike in the second half.
Glenavon pulled one back through Kyle Neill’s 89th minute penalty but the Lurgan based side could not, despite some late pressure, force an equaliser and continue to sit in ninth position in the table.
Champions Linfield look to have shaken off their early season malaise and dominated from start to finish in their clash with bottom side Lisburn Distillery at Windsor Park.
Teenage defender Niall Quinn opened the scoring with a superb free kick and after Andy Hunter’s own goal had doubled the Blues advantage another quality delivery from the youngster was headed home Brian McCaul.
Ryan Henderson made it four with his first touch after coming on as a second half substitute. The result moves Linfield up to fifth in the table but the good result was tempered by the news that former Dundalk striker Matthew Tipton suffered ligament damage and could miss a sizable portion of the season.
Portadown recorded their first win since the first day of the season when a Darren Murray header was enough to overcome Crusaders at Shamrock Park.