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02 May 2021
© Lorcan Doherty/INPHO Coleraine's Ben Doherty is congratulated after scoring from the spot
The first round of post-split fixtures produced Danske Bank Premiership victories for Coleraine, Larne, Ballymena United, Warrenpoint Town and Carrick Rangers and a scoreless draw between the 'Big Two'.
Glentoran, going into the weekend in second spot, hosted leaders Linfield at The Oval. The at times somewhat edgy encounter finished scoreless although both sides could well have snatched a narrow victory late on when Robbie McDaid failed to beat Chris Johns from the spot while Andy Waterworth was denied by a stoppage time goalline clearance.
Coleraine took advantage with a two-goal defeat of Cliftonville at The Showgrounds to leapfrog the Glens and close the gap at the top to six points.
Both goals came courtesy of Ben Doherty spot-kicks, the first coming on 13 minutes when Matthew Shevlin was brought down before, just after the hour, Reds keeper Aaron McCarey conceded the second and was sent-off after being left in no mans' land by a poor Kris Lowe back header.
Larne moved into fourth place after coming from behind to get the better of Crusaders at Seaview.
Ross Clarke handed the Crues the advantage at the break with a low ten yard strike right at the end of the first half but three goals inside a quarter-of-an-hour midway through the second period saw Larne fight back to claim the points.
Johnny McMurray levelled on 62 minutes with a drilled finish between Sean O'Neill's legs, with Ronan Hale curling the ball into the net seven minutes after that before Dylan Mottley-Henry added a third with a header over the onrushing O'Neill.
Ballymena United defeated Glenavon at The Showgrounds in a big game in the battle for a possible European play-off spot. Goals from Paul McElroy, Shay McCartan and Kofi Balmer within 20 second half minutes helped the Sky Blues into a commanding lead before Calvin Douglas grabbed a late consolation for the visitors.
Warrenpoint Town picked up their first league win in 13 outings with victory over Portadown at Shamrock Park. Adam Salley fired the Ports in front from the spot on 17 minutes but this was soon cancelled out by Fra McCaffrey before Alan O'Sullivan bagged what proved to be the winner just after the hour.
Meanwhile, on Friday night, Carrick Rangers kicked the weekend off with a two-goal defeat of Dungannon Swifts at Stangmore Park courtesy of first half finishes from Alex Gawne and Lloyd Anderson.