The gap at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership is down to three points as Dungannon Swifts stunned Linfield with a single goal victory at Stangmore Park while Crusaders came from behind to overcome Ballinamallard United on Belfast’s Shore Road.
It was Linfield’s second defeat of the week as they sought to bounce back from their mid-week League Cup loss to Crusaders and they dominated the first half with Aaron Burns sending two efforts over the visitor’s bar early on. Dungannon, who had only taken one point from the previous eighteen on offer, took the lead against the run of play on 37 minutes when Jamie Douglas’s shot struck Kyle McVey and looped over a helpless Johnny Tuffey in the Blues net.
The expected onslaught in the second half never really materialised and the Swifts hung on for a memorable victory that moves them up to eighth with nineteen points from sixteen games.
Jordan Owens scored a last minute winner for Crusaders to secure all three points against a dogged Ballinamallard side who took the lead at the end of the first half through Mark Stafford. Eamon McAllister fired in the equaliser with just over an hour gone before Jason McCartney was sent-off or the Mallards with ten minutes remaining for a rash challenge on David Magowan.
The game looked to be heading for a draw but with less than sixty seconds of normal time remaining, Jordan Owens struck the vital winner for the Crues as they took advantage of Linfield's defeat.
Ten-man Cliftonville are up to third as they eventually overcame Coleraine at the Showgrounds but they were forced to dig deep as the Bannsiders raced into a two goal lead through efforts from Gary Browne and Eoin Bradley. The champions rallied and were back in the game before the break as Liam Boyce headed home Eamonn Seydak’s cross. Joe Gormley then equalised for the Reds six minutes after the restart but Aaron Canning quickly restored Coleraine's lead with a diving header from a Stephen Carson free-kick.
Boyce then got the equaliser for the visitors with another headed goal but the North Belfast side were then dealt a blow when Joe Gormley was sent off just a minute later for a second yellow card. Cliftonville still pressed for the winner despite being at a numerical disadvantage and were rewarded with eleven minutes remaining as Diarmuid O’Carroll pounced on Martin Donnelly’s parried shot to slam home the winner and get his side’s title challenge back on course.
Glentoran slip to fourth as they played out a goalless draw with Glenavon at the Oval while Portadown returned to winning ways with a 2-0 defeat of Warrenpoint Town. In the weekend’s remaining fixture Ballymena United got a much needed win 4-2 win over Ards that moves them five points clear of the North Down side who are second from bottom, two points ahead of Warrenpoint Town.