Irish Premiership: Linfield move further ahead in title race after Sky Blues win

Joe McCready
Joe McCready scored a superb opener for Ballymena United

Linfield extended their lead at the top of the Irish Premiership table to six points after a 4-1 win over Ballymena United at the Showgrounds.

Rivals Glentoran lost more ground in the title race after being held to a goalless draw by Carrick Rangers at the Oval.

In the relegation battle, Institute twice pegged back Warrenpoint Town in a dramatic 2-2 draw at Milltown.

Elsewhere, Larne beat Dungannon Swifts 2-0 at Stangmore Park.

At Ballymena, Joe McCready put the Sky Blues into the lead with a superb effort on 19 minutes, cutting inside before beating Rohan Ferguson with the outside of his foot from the edge of the area.

However the hosts' lead lasted only five minutes when Mark Haughey headed past Ross Glendinning, before Jordan Stewart completed the turnaround on the stroke of half-time from close range.

Linfield seized control after a tight start to the second half and Jimmy Callacher extended their lead by stabbing in at the back-post from a Haughey flick-on.

Andrew Waterworth sealed the win with a follow-up strike after the outstanding Joel Cooper saw his shot tipped onto the bar by Ross Glendinning.

Ballymena have now lost their last seven league games in a row as the pressure builds on manager David Jeffrey.

Harry Doherty
Harry Doherty made several vital interventions to deny Glentoran

Glentoran moved into second place in the table but slipped two points further back from David Healy's side after failing to take their chances in east Belfast.

Carrick goalkeeper Harry Doherty was in inspired form between the sticks, keeping out Robbie McDaid with several crucial stops in the first half .

It was more of the same after the restart, although Carrick improved in possession, with Doherty again stopping debutant Ruaidhri Donnelly and Glens' captain Marcus Kane with some superb saves.

Real clear-cut chances were at a premium in a game littered by eight yellow cards, but there was almost late drama as Daniel Reynolds hit the post for Carrick.

Four-goal thriller in basement battle

A late own goal by Gavin Smith gifted Institute a point in their thrilling bottom-two showdown with Warrenpoint.

Point, who started the evening two points above their relegation rivals, took the lead when Alan O'Sullivan's deflected effort beat Institute goalkeeper Rory Brown, however Ahu Obhakhan netted on 43 minutes against the run of play.

In an eventful evening for Wallace, the former Linfield man had a header cleared off the line then had a goal disallowed for offside.

Then, two minutes after Alex Pomeroy failed to score after rounding Buchanan, Point orchestrated a devastating counter-attack, which culminated in Danny Wallace converting Ryan Swan's cross with six minutes to play.

Warrenpoint were minutes away from a huge win before Smith inadvertently netted for Stute to make it 2-2 at the end of a gripping ding-dong battle.

Alan O'Sullivan
Alan O'Sullivan opened the scoring at Milltown

Larne extended their winning run to four games as young Dungannon Swifts goalkeeper Conor Byrne endured a difficult night.

Byrne could only punch Tomas Cosgrove's cross into the path of Lee Lynch and, although the keeper recovered to deny the midfielder, Martin Donnelly was in the right place to calmly slot the ball into the bottom corner.

Dungannon had decent spells, with Daniel Hughes passing up two goalscoring opportunities while Caolan McAleer clipped a post as Kris Lindsay's side failed to find the killer touch in front of goal.

At the other end, Byrne's night went from bad to worse 20 minutes into the second half when he allowed Fuad Sule's speculative effort to escape his grasp as the Larne midfielder wheeled away in celebration.

Larne are now within four points of fifth-placed Cliftonville.

Irish Premiership results
Ballymena United1-4Linfield
Dungannon Swifts0-2Larne
Glentoran0-0Carrick Rangers
Warrenpoint Town2-2Institute