Two late goals from Andrew Waterworth and Aaron Burns ensured Linfield maintained their three point cushion at the top of the Danske Irish Premiership, but it was far from plain sailing for the Belfast side as they were pushed all the way by a determined Glenavon side.
The Lurgan based team stunned the league leaders as they took the lead on seventeen minutes when teenage defender Rhys Marshall headed home when Blues goalkeeper Jonny Tuffey could only palm away Mark Patton’s cross. Glenavon were good value for their half time lead but Linfield began the second half with much better purpose to their play and were level on 55 minutes as Mark McAllister rose unchallenged to nod home James Knowles cross.
Although the home side dominated the second half they had to wait until six minutes from time to take the lead when Andrew Waterworth rounded John Connelly in the Glenavon to coolly convert his finish. There was to be further joy for David Jeffrey as four minutes later Aaron Burns slotted home from a tight angle to put daylight between the teams.
Glenavon were not finished however and a late David Rainey goal ensured a nervous finish for the Windsor faithful and despite some late scares they held out for a hard earned three points.
Paul Heatley inspired Crusaders to a 4-0 defeat of Coleraine which brings the North Belfast’s side’s unbeaten streak to twenty games and keeps up the pressure on Linfield at the head of the league. Heatley scored twice, the second a stunning volley from the edge of the area, before setting up Gary McCutcheon’s third with defender Davy Magowan completing the rout.
It was Ronnie McFall’s 1,000th league in charge of Portadown and the veteran manager proved he’s still got what it takes as he sprung Joshua Barton from the bench to score twice to earn the Ports a point against Cliftonville. The champions looked to be cruising to victory with first half goals from Liam Boyce and Martin Murray but Darren Murray converted a penalty early in the second half to bring the home side back in the game.
Martin Murray was brought into the side for the injured Joe Gormley and the young striker looked to have secured all three points for Cliftonville when he slotted home Chris Scannell’s expert lay off to seemingly give his side an unassailable two goal lead. Then came Barton’s intervention as firstly his long range shot deceived Reds keeper Conor Devlin when it took a deflection off Gary Twigg. The former Aston Villa trainee then went one better as another long range effort found the bottom corner to complete a fantastic come back for the mid-Ulster side.
Glentoran moved above Cliftonville into third as they proved too strong for Ballinamallard United, running out comfortable 4-1 winners in Ferney Park while goals from David Cushley and Allan Jenkins gave Ballymena United a 2-0 victory over Warrenpoint Town in Stangmore Park.
The gap at the bottom remains two points as Ards went down narrowly to Dungannon Swifts with Darren Boyce scoring twice for the Swifts to move them into seventh position with 22 points.