24 Feb 2024
© David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press Ben Gallagher edged Dungannon Swifts in front against Cliftonville

The latest round of Sports Direct Premiership action produced victories for Dungannon Swifts, Linfield, Larne, Crusaders and Coleraine – in addition to a six-goal thriller at Lakeview Park!

Leaders Larne kicked the weekend off with a comprehensive three goal defeat of Glentoran at Inver Park on Friday night.

Lee Bonis opened the scoring just before the break when he ran onto a Sean Graham through ball to slot past Aaron McCarey.

Andy Ryan added a second just after the hour with a superbly struck curling free-kick into the top corner before Bonis bagged his second of the evening from a Levi Ives run and pass.

Linfield are keeping pace with the defending champions following a 2-0 win over Ballymena United on Saturday afternoon.

Scoreless at half-time, the Blues moved in front through Kyle McClean’s glancing header past Sean O’Neill on 55 minutes, with Matthew Fitzpatrick adding a second 13 minutes after that from Daniel Finlayson’s ball over the top.

But third placed Cliftonville lost ground in the title race after going down 3-1 away to Dungannon Swifts.

Thomas Maguire fired the Swifts in front after just nine minutes with a header from Leo Alves’ corner.

That was how it stayed until Chris Curran levelled for the Reds just short of the hour but two late goals from substitutes Ben Gallagher and James Knowles helped Rodney McAree’s side to the points.

Gallagher edged the Swifts back in front on 83 minutes after racing onto a Knowles pass, before Knowles got on the scoresheet himself from close range right at the end of normal time.

Coleraine hit two goals inside the opening half-an-hour to win on the road away to bottom of the table Newry City.

Conor McKendry hammered the Bannsiders in front after nine minutes with a 40-yard drive into the top corner, with Matthew Shevlin doubling up on 30 minutes after nodding home a Jamie Glackin corner at the back post.

Crusaders got past Glenavon by the same scoreline at Seaview.

Jude Winchester edged Stephen Baxter’s side in front on ten minutes with a deflected finish from around 25 yards. Ben Kennedy then added a second nine minutes after the break with a header into the bottom left corner.

Meanwhile, Loughgall and Carrick Rangers battled to an equal share of the points and the goals at Lakeview Park.

James Teelan fired Rangers in front on 34 minutes, but Andrew Hoey levelled just four minutes after that with an unmarked back post header.

Daniel Gibson restored Carrick’s lead with two goals either side of the break only for the Villagers to storm back later in the game with another from Hoey and a stoppage time equaliser from Nathaniel Ferris on the rebound.