IRISH LEAGUE: It’s all to play for in top three battle

Glenavon closed the gap on Coleraine to just two points with Saturday’s spirited 2-0 win at the Showgrounds.

Rhys Marshall broke the deadlock before Sammy Morrow inadvertantly headed into his own net to seal the victory for the Lurgan Blues.

It saw Gary Hamilton’s side leapfrog Linfield into fourth spot in the Danske Bank Premiership table, and edge closer to Coleraine in third.

And for skipper Kris Lindsay, the onus is now on Glenavon to try and break into the top three in the table.

“This is a massive win for us,” Lindsay said.

“We now need to keep building momentum and try and break into the top three. We have the quality in the side to do it.

“It took us time to get started today, but when we did we showed our quality. We grew in confidence as the game progressed.

“The goals were scrappy, but you don’t really care how they are scored. You take what you earn, and I think we certainly earned our win.

“We have so much belief in the team. We just have to keep working hard and try and pick up positive results.

“Crusaders are obviously hot favourites to retain the title. They are clear at the top of the table and will be hard to catch. But after that everything is up for grabs.”

Coleraine suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time this season.

Their misery was compounded with the sending off of captain Howard Beverland for two bookings – ruling the defender out of Tuesday night’s JBE League Cup semi-final against Ards.

“It is disappointing to lose another game. I wanted to try and sustain our excellent start but we were undone by two sloppy goals,” Coleraine voss Oran Kearned said.

“They were two set plays, which is a negative for us.

“We have played worse in games this season and won. We just have to put this behind us and move onto the next challenge which is a massive League Cup semi-final.”

Glenavon’s breakthrough came on 51 minutes when Kyle Neill’s inswinging corner caused problems in the home defence.

Marshall managed to get a vital touch to guide the ball over the line.

On 75 minutes the visitors doubled their lead.

They won a free-kick which Andy Hall curled into the box and it came off the head of Coleraine striker Morrow and flew into the net.

The home side were reduced to 10 men on 79 minutes when Beverland clipped Joel Cooper to earn a second yellow.