18 Apr 2021
© Stephen Hamilton/PressEye Cliftonville keeper Aaron McCarey claims the ball at Shamrock Park
The penultimate weekend of Danske Bank Premiership action before the split produced victories for Cliftonville, Linfield, Larne and Crusaders while there were draws at the Loughshore Hotel Arena and Coleraine Showgrounds.
Cliftonville became the latest side to book a top six berth with victory over Portadown at Shamrock Park on Saturday evening.
Ryan Curran bagged both goals in the 2-1 win either side of the half-hour mark, the first coming on 27 minutes when he reacted to stab home a Rory Hale effort that looked to be going wide before doubling up soon after with a deflected finish. Ben Tilney did pull one back for the Ports just before the break but there were no further goals in the second half.
That result, coupled with Ballymena United's loss to Linfield at Windsor Park, put paid to the Sky Blues' chances of making the cut.
Mark Haughey opened the scoring for Linfield with just over a quarter-of-an-hour of the clock with a back post header but Shay McCartan levelled matters on 30 minutes with a sweetly dispatched free-kick from the edge of the area into the top corner. However, Shayne Lavery claimed the points for the Blues midway through the second half with a header from Kirk Millar's cross.
Indeed, it was a good weekend for Linfield. They stretched their lead at the top to 11 points following a second win in three days for nearest challengers Coleraine and Glentoran.
After sharing four goals at The Oval on Tuesday the sides met again at The Showgrounds on Friday night and again couldn't be separated.
Robbie McDaid edged Glentoran in front just before half-time with a low finish into the bottom corner but this was cancelled out on 64 minutes when Matthew Shevlin got the final touch to Ben Doherty's cross.
There were big victories for Crusaders and Larne over Glenavon and Warrenpoint Town respectively.
The Crues fought back from going behind to an early Matthew Fitzpatrick goal at Seaview to beat Glenavon 6-1 at Seaview. Both Paul Heatley and Jamie McGonigle bagged two goals apiece, supplemented by finishes from Philip Lowry and Ross Clarke.
At Inver Park, five different Larne players found the net as they swept past Warrenpoint. Josh Robinson kicked the scoring off after eight minutes, Andy Mitchell made it 2-0 on 20 from the spot before Martin Donnelly and Ronan Hale added three and four early in the second half with David McDaid rounding things off right at the end.
Meanwhile, the bottom two met at the Loughshore Hotel Arena to share the points and goals. Cahal McGinty fired Dungannon Swifts in front midway through the first half but Cathair Friel levelled for Carrick Rangers just before the hour.