Irish Premiership: Linfield go top by beating Cliftonville

Linfield have won three league games in a row
Linfield have won three league games in a row

Irish Premiership champions Linfield have taken over at the top of the table on goal difference after beating Cliftonville 1-0.

Both teams had a player sent off in a match decided by Chris Casement's close-range goal in the second half.

Overnight leaders Crusaders missed a late penalty as they fell to a surprise 1-0 defeat at home to Ballymena United.

Coleraine came from two down to draw 2-2 with Glentoran while there were wins for Larne, Carrick and Dungannon.

Relive the key moments from Saturday's Irish Premiership

Linfield, top for the first time this season, are level on points with Coleraine but David Healy's men have two games in hand.

The champions moved up from fourth thanks to Casement's goal in a Windsor Park encounter which saw both teams finish with 10 men.

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Linfield beat Cliftonville to go top

The game came to life after a dismal first half with Jimmy Callacher heading against the Reds bar before Cliftonville defender Liam Bagnall was dismissed on 57 for two yellow cards.

Casement capitalised on an error from goalkeeper Richard Brush to slot in but the 10-man Reds almost levelled with Ruaidhri Donnelly denied by the woodwork.

Bastien Hery hit a post at the other end and Linfield winger Kirk Millar was shown a straight red card for a poor challenge with six minutes left.

Ballymena United claimed their first league victory since the end of September thanks to Josh Kelly's late winner at Seaview.

In an entertaining first half, there were chances at both ends, with both goalkeepers making good saves, while Jamie McGonigle's shot for Crusaders crashed off the bar.

The second half was a more tepid affair but just as it seemed the game was going to peter out into a scoreless stalemate, Ballymena grabbed the lead in spectacular fashion with substitute Josh Kelly firing home a 25-yard strike.

Ballymena's win meant Crusaders were knocked off the top of the table
Ballymena's win meant Crusaders were knocked off the top of the table

The drama still was not over as Crusaders were awarded an injury-time penalty after referee Shane Andrews adjudged that Howard Beverland had been fouled but David Cushley's spot kick was brilliantly turned around the post by keeper Jordan Williamson.

Glentoran dominated the first half at Coleraine and deservedly took an early lead when Robbie McDaid controlled a John Herron pass inside and finished well after the ball had struck referee Tony Clarke during the build-up to the goal.

Paul O'Neill then pounced on ponderous play by the home defence and, when his pass inside rebounded back to him, he finished well to give the Glens a 2-0 lead at the break.

The hosts came out firing in the second half and Aaron Jarvis got a goal back with an outstanding strike from 30 yards which found the net via the woodwork.

Paul O'Neill's goal put Glentoran 2-0 up but Coleraine battled back for a draw
Paul O'Neill's goal put Glentoran 2-0 up but Coleraine battled back for a draw

It was Jarvis who scored the equaliser with his second of the game, stooping unmarked at the back post to head home a Jamie Glackin corner.

Goals from Harry Flowers, Albert Watson and Johnny McMurray gave Larne a deserved win over Glenavon at Mourneview Park.

Flowers and Watson both headed in at the near-post from Martin Donnelly corners to put the visitors in control in the first half.

Stephen Murray pulled one back with a penalty early in the second half before McMurray's volley sealed the points for Tiernan Lynch's side.

Carrick continued their impressive recent form with a comfortable 3-0 win at home to 10-man Institute.

Daniel Kelly powered home a header from a Gerard Thompson corner to give Niall Currie's side a third-minute lead, with the second coming from a Mark Surgenor penalty after visiting captain Dean Curry was shown a second yellow card and sent off for a handball in the box.

Carrick Rangers celebrate scoring against Institute
Carrick Rangers have won five of their last eight league matches

Substitute Michael Smith added the third goal in injury-time from close range, sparking a melee amongst players from both sides before the final whistle.

Dungannon Swifts ended a run of eight straight league defeats with a 3-1 win over fellow strugglers Warrenpoint Town.

Dungannon took a third minute lead when defender Callum Byers beat Warrenpoint keeper Mark Byrne to the ball to head home a Michael Carvill corner.

But Warrenpoint were level on 10 minutes after Brandon Doyle was on hand to slide home an Alan O'Sullivan cross from close range.

Dungannon regained the lead midway through the second half when Mark Patton arrived just ahead of Warrenpoint defender to bundle home from a Kris Lowe centre.

Patton was on hand to clinch the points for the Swifts on 71 minutes, running onto Ben Gallagher's pass before placing a shot beyond Mark Byrne.

Danske Bank Irish Premiership
Carrick Rangers3-0Institute
Coleraine2-2Glentoran
Crusaders0-1Ballymena United
Dungannon Swifts3-1Warrenpoint Town
Glenavon1-3Larne
Linfield1-0Cliftonville
Bluefin Sport Championship
Ballyclare Comrades0-1Dundela
Knockbreda1-4Ballinamallard United
Loughgall1-0Newry City
Queen's University5-2H&W Welders
Portadown2-1Ards