Six wins in seven games has seen Cliftonville open up a four point lead at the top of the Danske Irish Premiership with their latest triumph coming at Glenavon where the Reds ran out comfortable 2-0 winners.
Both goals came in the first half with Cliftonville dominating the opening stages and taking the lead on sixteen minutes through a George McMullan penalty after Kris Lindsay up-ended Joe Gormley inside the area. The second came six minutes later when the lively Martin Donnelly’s cross was diverted into his own net by Glenavon skipper, Eddie McCallion.
The home side improved in the second half without really troubling the league leaders who were unlucky not to add to their tally as Gormley shot narrowly wide and Liam Boyce was only denied by the woodwork. Glenavon have only registered one point in their last five games in a run that has seen them slip to tenth in the table.
Second took on fourth as Crusaders and Coleraine played out a draw that was marred by controversy as referee Tim Marshall awarded Coleraine a penalty in the closing minutes that in form striker Curtis Allen calmly dispatched to give his side a valuable point.
The penalty was given after Josh Robinson handled in the area after the players had stopped in response to a wrong offside decision and was bitterly disputed by the Crusaders players and lead to the referee being given police escort from the pitch as the home fans vented their frustration.
The home side were good value for their one goal lead at half time, the goal coming in the eighteenth minute courtesy of Jordan Owens, but were denied their fourth victory in a row as the visitors benefitted from a somewhat fortuitous decision by the official.
Controversy also reigned at the Showgrounds as the game between Ballymena and Ballinamallard United descended into chaotic scenes just before the break as players and coaching staff from both were involved in a mass brawl after a wreckless challenge by Johnny Taylor on Stephen Feeney.
Former Longford Town midfielder Jason McCartney received a red card for his part in the melee that came as the game was finely balanced at 1-1. The Mallards had started brightly with Stephen Feeney giving them the lead on twelve minutes but that was cancelled out when Alan Teggart equalised with a 40th-minute penalty. The home side then had Mark Surgenor dismissed with two minutes left as the game ended in honours even with Ballymena in sixth position and Ballinamallard riding high in third spot.
Linfield leapfrogged Portadown by beating them by a single goal in Windsor Park in a game that saw both teams reduced to ten men after Portadown's Chris Ramsey and Linfield's Mark McAllister were red-carded after an altercation off the ball.
The champions went ahead when Darren Murray could only divert the ball into his own net from Phillip Lowry’s header as Linfield enjoyed the bulk of possession and were only denied a second by David Miskelly’s tremendous save from Michael Carvill’s penalty.
New manager Pat McAllister guided Donegal Celtic to their first premiership win since March as two first half goals from former Drogheda and Athlone midfielder, Shane Dolan, gave them a narrow 2-1 victory over Glentoran who remain in fifth spot in the table.
The result sees DC move off the bottom of the league as Lisburn Distillery take their place after their 1-1 draw with Dungannon Swifts.