Linfield edge closer to title after win over Crusaders

Linfield moved a step closer to the Danske Bank Premiership title with a 3-1 win at home to Crusaders.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 10:46 pm

Mark Stafford had given them an early lead before Ben Kennedy deservedly drew the visitors level.

But further goals from Shayne Lavery and Joel Cooper extended the Blues lead at the summit to eight points with three games to play.

The first chance fell the way of the Crues with seven minutes gone as Declan Caddell picked up the loose ball in the box, but Chris Johns produced a good save to deny him.

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Shayne Lavery celebrates his goal with Niall Quinn

That save proved vital as the Blues broke the deadlock on 14 minutes as Stafford fired home Kirk Millar’s corner at the back post.

The visitors should have drawn level seven minutes later as Ross Clarke picked out David Cushley in front of goal, but he headed over.

The visitors did draw themselves level a minute after the restart as Linfield failed to deal with a corner and Ben Kennedy fired in from close range.

Teenager Andrew Clarke then fizzed an effort inches wide as Stephen Baxter’s men continued to press.

It was the Blues though who scored again as Shayne Lavery headed in from Stafford’s ball in.

Stephen Fallon then went close as the hosts stepped things up again.

With six minutes to go Joel Cooper made the game safe as he finished off a good move.

At Solitude Jeff Hughes should have given Larne the lead on the half hour but he headed wide of the target.

Three minutes before the break Larne were awarded a spot kick as Ryan Curran was adjudged to have handled and up stepped former Red Davy McDaid to score.

The hosts drew level on 54 minutes as on-loan midfielder Barry Coffey curled home a delightful free kick.

Parity lasted only two minutes though as McDaid slotted home another penalty after Mottley-Henry had been brought down in the area.

Ballymena United had the better of things at Carrick Rangers but failed to trouble the scorers for most of the first half.

A minute before the break Ryan Waide robbed possession from Stephen Gordon before feeding McElroy in front of goal, but he was denied by a great save from Hogg.

From the resulting corner though the visitors took the lead as Trai Hume headed in Ross Redman’s corner.

The home side were punished further after the hour mark as Gordon was adjudged to have fouled McElroy in the box. He was shown a red card and Shay McCartan slotted home the spot kick.

In the 90th minute McCartan added his second with a low finish after a great surging run.

Deep into stoppage time substitute Joe McCready fired home to complete the rout.

At Mourneview Park Glenavon dominated from the off but found Jacob Carney in top form as he denied Matthew Fitzpatrick, Peter Campbell and Danny Purkis.

Just before the break the hosts were made to pay for their profligacy as the Ports took the lead.

A ball over the top was latched on to by Lee Bonis and he rifled a volley past Crag Hyland.

Remarkably though Glenavon drew level a minute later as Andrew Doyle headed in a corner at the back post.

The Lurgan Blues edged in front on the hour as Fitzpatrick fired home from a knockdown in the box.

And the striker wrapped up the points with 16 minutes to go with a low finish at the back post.

Portadown’s woes were compounded with nine minutes to go as Adam McCallum put through his own net.

At Dungannon the hosts threatened first as the broke from a Warrenpoint corner. Oisin Smyth released Ryan Mayse, but Andy Coleman denied him.

Both sides had half chances without really troubling either keeper. As the game progressed the visitors had the better of the ball.

Roy Carroll had to be at his best to deny both Kealan Dillon and Ryan Swan on 74 minutes.

Right at the death the Point were awarded a penalty. Doyle’s initial effort was saved by Carroll but he managed to scramble the rebound into the net to grab the win.