LINFIELD 5 COLERAINE 2
MATTHEW Tipton bagged a clinical hat-trick as Linfield eased to a 5-2 victory over Coleraine on Saturday.
Tipton made it six goals in three games to continue his stellar return from injury.
The striker scored two in the opening half before claiming his hat-trick in the 86th minute.
Brian McCaul added a penalty and Mark McAllister was also on target for the champions - Curtis Allen and Ruairi Harkin replied for the visitors.
The win sees the Blues close the gap on Premiership leaders Cliftonville to seven points - but the Reds have two games in hand.
Three first-half goals had Linfield well on their way to three points.
Tipton broke the deadlock in the eighth minute when he latched onto Michael Carvill’s through ball before somehow breezing past Michael Doherty and tapping into an empty net.
It was 2-0 less than 90 seconds later when David Ogilby brought down Carvill inside the box.
Referee Alan Black awarded the penalty and McCaul stepped up to send Doherty the wrong way.
The Blues got their third goal in the 40th minute with Tipton on target once again.
Carvill was the provider with another sublime through ball, and Tipton was clinical with a left-foot finish that gave Doherty no chance.
Coleraine reduced the arrears in the 48th minute with Allen finishing off a neat move involving substitute Joel Bradley and David Scullion, but McAllister fired home from the edge of the box five minutes later to restore Linfield’s advantage.
It was 4-2 on 67 minutes when Harkin finished with aplomb after being gifted time inside the Blues box.
But any doubts over the result were erased four minutes from time when McCaul’s free-kick found its way to Tipton who drilled a first-time shot past Doherty.
LINFIELD: Blayney, Gault, Murphy, Carvill, Burns, Tipton (Fordyce 88), Mulgrew, Watson, McCaul (Lowry 88), McAllister, Black.
Subs not used: Armstrong, Garrett, Clarke.
COLERAINE: Doherty, Beverland, Hegarty (Owens 84), Ogilby, Scullion (Gillan 68), Lowry, Allen, Harkin, McIlmoyle, Canning, Jennings (Bradley 26).
Subs not used: Watt, McMullan.
Referee: Alan Black (Antrim)