Irish Premiership: Linfield three points clear at top as Ballymena held

Linfield players congratulate first-half goalscorer Jordan Stewart
Linfield players congratulate hat-trick hero Jordan Stewart

Linfield moved three points clear at the top of the Irish Premiership as a Jordan Stewart hat-trick helped them to a 4-0 home win over Warrenpoint Town.

Ballymena United drew 2-2 with 10-man Dungannon to go second in the table - above Crusaders on goal difference.

Glentoran goalkeeper Elliott Morris was on target as his side beat Institute 2-0 while Glenavon drew 1-1 at Coleraine.

Cliftonville got back to winning ways after five successive defeats with a 4-1 thumping of Ards at Solitude.

Linfield required a last-gasp Andrew Waterworth goal to secure a point the last time Warrenpoint Town came to Windsor Park in November and the visitors made a promising start to Saturday's game at Windsor Park.

However Stewart slid the ball home from Joel Cooper's cut-back just before half-time to set the Blues on their way to a fourth straight league success.

After the break Stewart added a second from the penalty spot after Anto Reilly handled inside the area and then Waterworth headed into the bottom corner from Niall Quinn's free-kick.

Stewart completed his treble by blasting home from close range in the closing stages, before 'Point's Matthew Lynch was sent-off for a second bookable offence.

Jude Winchester put Ballymena in front against Dungannon
Jude Winchester put Ballymena in front against Dungannon

Jude Winchester put Ballymena in front against Dungannon at the Showgrounds with a well-struck right-foot shot two minutes before the interval.

Swifts levelled in the second half when Daniel Hughes rounded Ross Glendinning and coolly slotted the ball into the net after defender Scot Whiteside played a back-pass straight into his path.

With 20 minutes remaining Dungannon were reduced to 10 men when Douglas Wilson was dismissed for a reckless challenge on Jim Ervin but soon after Cathair Friel restored United's advantage by steering in an angled drive through a sea of bodies.

The Sky Blues' lead proved short-lived though as substitute Oisin Smyth forced home the loose ball after Glendinning had parried Paul McElroy's left-wing cross.

Kris Lindsay's side also left with a point from their previous top-flight encounter with David Jeffrey's men at Warden Street in October.

Glens goalkeeper Morris found the net for the first time in 723 appearances for the club when his wind-assisted floated free-kick from well inside his own half went over the head of opposite number Marty Gallagher, who got fingertips to the ball but could not keep it out of the net.

Substitute Paul O'Neill netted three minutes from time to ensure a first win in 14 matches in all competitions for the Glens in Gary Smyth's first league game in charge.

Glentoran move above Warrenpoint into eighth while Institute's defeat was their first in seven top-flight outings.

Coleraine's Gareth McConaghie and Stephen Murray of Coleraine in aerial action at Ballycastle Road

Coleraine took the lead in the 19th minute as Eoin Bradley tapped in the rebound from close range after Jonny Tuffey had saved from Jamie Glackin.

Niall Grace equalised with a curling right-foot shot into the top corner from 20 yards out early in the second half but the Lurgan Blues now boast just four points from their last five Premiership matches.

The Bannsiders are unbeaten in six games in all competitions, including three wins and two draws in the league, since going down 4-0 to Glenavon at Mourneview Park on 14 December.

Ryan Curran's left-foot shot put Cliftonville in front against bottom side Ards but Darren Henderson restored parity by scoring a penalty on his debut after referee Arnold Hunter adjudged that Ruairi Harkin had impeded Kym Nelson.

Joe Gormley had a penalty saved by Sam Johnston after Ross Lavery had been upended but on 63 minutes Conor McMenamin smashed home an emphatic finish into the top corner.

Rory Donnelly completed a fine solo effort by firing low into the corner, then Gormley lobbed Johnston for the fourth.

Danske Bank Irish Premiership - Results
Ballymena Utd2-2Dungannon Swifts
Coleraine 1-1Glenavon
Linfield4-0Warrenpoint Town
Bluefin Sport Championship - Results
PSNI4-2H&W Welders
Ballyclare Comrades2-1Portadown