10 Feb 2024

Another breathless, nail biting, action packed afternoon rounded off an enthralling weekend in the Sports Direct Premiership!

Larne had returned to the summit on Friday night with an Andy Ryan inspired two-goal defeat of Loughgall at Inver Park while, at the other end of the table, the bottom two shared the spoils as Newry City hit back almost instantly after going behind to Ballymena United.

But that was only a taster for the feast that was served up on Saturday afternoon.

Linfield, who had led the pack going into the weekend, failed to return to pole position following a 2-2 draw away to Glenavon.

Stephen Fallon fired the Blues in front as early as the second minute with a finish from a tight angle, but James Doona levelled for Glenavon into the bottom corner just after the half-hour mark.

David Healy’s side thought they had sealed the win with just a couple of minutes of normal time remaining when Darragh McBrien powered home a header into the roof of the net but Glenavon hit back deep into stoppage time through Aaron Prendergast’s tap in after Peter Campbell’s effort had come back off an upright.

There were no such issues for third placed Cliftonville, however, as they swept to a 4-1 defeat of Coleraine at Solitude.

Ronan Hale edged the Reds in front on 11 minutes after rolling the ball into an empty net, with Shea Kearney doubling up around ten minutes later with a side foot finish.

The Bannsiders did pull one back early in the second half through Jamie McGonigle only for Sam Ashford to restore the two-goal home advantage moments later with a low shot into the bottom corner.

Rory Hale then made sure of the win in stoppage time with a curling right foot effort in off an upright.

Glentoran surrendered a two-goal home lead for the second successive game after Carrick Rangers stormed back to earn a point at the BetMcLean Oval.

Bobby Burns opened the scoring on 20 minutes with a long range strike past Ross Glendinning. David Fisher then hit a second a quarter-of-an-hour later with a crisp finish from just outside the area to hand the Glens a commanding half-time lead.

Andy Mitchell pulled a goal back for Rangers midway through the second half but, with seven minutes remaining, Curtis Allen touched the ball home at the near post to complete the comeback for Stuart King’s side.

And there was even more late drama as Dungannon Swifts and Crusaders battled to an equal share of the four goals scored at Stangmore Park.

The visitors led at the break courtesy of Ben Kennedy’s 28th minute curling strike from the edge of the area.

Andrew Mitchell headed Dungannon’s equaliser four minutes after the break, and when Joe Moore rifled past Jonny Tuffey on 89 minutes it looked like Rodney McAree’s side had snatched the points … but up popped Kennedy just moments after that to poke home a Jay Boyd cross to double his tally and bag a point for the Crues!