09 Dec 2023
© Declan Roughan/INPHO Ben Wilson and Luke McCullough battle for possession

The weather may have tried it’s best to ruin the weekend but, as ever, the Sports Direct Premiership responded with another thrilling round of games high on tension and drama right until the end.

And nowhere was this more evident than at Windsor Park as Linfield came from two goals down at the break to Dungannon Swifts before winning through right at the end to retake their place at the top of the table.

The Swifts had gone in front courtesy of a Matthew Lusty penalty after just 13 minutes, but Rhys Annett levelled for the Blues just moments later.

Cahal McGinty restored the advantage for the visitors late in the first half, with a Michael Newberry own goal in stoppage time sending Rodney McAree’s side into the interval with a healthy lead.

However, Annett struck again for Linfield early in the second half but the Swifts continued to hold the upper hand as time ticked away.

Perhaps the pivotal moment in the game came with James Knowles’ dismissal on 68 minutes which prompted the Blues to throw everything at the visiting defence in search of at least an equaliser.

They eventually grabbed it on 86 minutes through Joel Cooper before, in the fourth minute of added time, Kirk Millar knocked home what proved to be a dramatic winner for David Healy’s men.

Across the city, Cliftonville and Glentoran shared the spoils in a four-goal thriller at Solitude.

Ronan Hale fired the Reds into a third minute lead with a calm finish which was how it stayed until right at the end of the first half when Daire O’Connor levelled for the Glens.

David Fisher then edged the east Belfast men in front on 48 minutes before Shea Kearney then equalised for Cliftonville just seven minutes after that.

Rory Hale did have the ball in the net for the Reds in the dying moments but his ‘goal’ was ruled out by the officials.

Coleraine returned to winning ways with victory over Loughgall by the odd goal in five at the Showgrounds.

Teenager Ciaran O’Hara marked his league debut for the Bannsiders with the opener on 14 minutes but Tiernan Kelly hit back for the Villagers less than ten minutes after that.

Lee Lynch restored Coleraine’s lead late in the first half, and when Conor McKendry hit a third just after the third it looked like game over.

However, David McDaid was sent-off with around ten minutes remaining thus spurring the visitors into a late flourish to try to salvage something from the game but despite battering the home defence then only have a 97th minute Benji Magee strike to show for their efforts.

On Friday evening Larne had temporarily moved to the top of the table with a 4-1 defeat of Glenavon at Inver Park.

Leroy Millar edged the champions in front after just nine minutes with two goals in quick succession before the hour from Lee Bonis and Andy Ryan putting the issue beyond doubt.

Aaron Prendergast did bag a late consolation for the visitors but Paul O’Neill restored Larne’s three-goal cushion right at the end.

Crusaders needed just one goal to get the better of Carrick Rangers in the live TV game at the Loughview Leisure Arena.

Philip Lowry hit what proved to be the only goal of the game on the stroke of half-time with a strike past Ross Glendinning from just outside the box.

Meanwhile, Newry City hosted Ballymena United in the battle of the bottom two with the sides cancelling each other out in a nail biting scoreless draw.