Crues and Blues close gap on Reds

Crues and Blues close gap on Reds

Crusaders and Linfield closed the gap on league leaders Cliftonville with both sides winning their respective games in the Danske Bank Premiership on Saturday.

Matthew Tipton grabbed a hat-trick as the Blues demolished Coleraine 5-2 to consolidate third place in the table.

The Welshman scored his first in the eighth minute, latching on to a through ball from Michael Carvill and rounding the keeper before firing into the empty net.

Brian McCaul added a second from the penalty spot in the tenth minute after Carvill was felled by David Ogilby inside the area, and Tipton added his second of the afternoon with a clinical strike from another Carvill pass five minutes before the break.

The visitors pulled one back three minutes into the second half when Curtis Allen found the net after some neat play, but Linfield restored their three goal advantage when Mark McAllister fired home from the edge of the box in the 53rd minute.

Ruairi Harkin kept the Bannsiders in the contest with a fine goal in the 67th minute after the Linfield defence had failed to close him down in the box, but Tipton made sure of the points when he drilled home Brian McCaul's free kick four minutes from time.

Crusaders, meanwhile, twice came from behind to see off a determined Glenavon side at Mourneview Park.

Mark Haughey headed the opener for the hosts in the 14th minute after Gary Hamilton's fine delivery from a free kick, but the Crues restored parity on the half hour when Gary McCutcheon unleashed a piledriver from a Jordan Owens flick-on.

Glenavon though were back in front three minutes later when Guy Bates weaved his way down the left wing before crossing for Ciaran Martyn to finish from close-range.

Crusaders duly battled back and when Glenavon goalkeeper Andy Coleman could only punch clear as far as Paul Heatley, the Crues man ripped a volley through a sea of players and into the net five minutes before the break.

In an open and highly entertaining game, Crusaders secured the points in the 65th minute when Declan Caddell headed in Gareth McKeown's cross.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Portadown's new signing Gary Twigg scored on his debut as Ronnie McFall's side secured a 1-0 victory over Donegal Celtic.

The former Shamrock Rovers man headed in a Sean Mackle cross in the 50th minute to secure the win for his team.

In the game at Stangmore Park, Dungannon Swifts heaped more misery on Lisburn Distillery with a 1-0 win over Tim McCann's struggling Whites.

Emmet Friars headed the decisive goal 12 minutes from time.

In Friday night's action, Ballymena United secured their first victory in eight games with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Ballinamallard at the Showgrounds.

Shane Dolan scored with a low shot in the 40th minute on his debut for the Sky Blues, with the goal coming either side of a first minute header from Chris Rodgers and a defected shot from David Cushley early in the second half.

Premiership pace-setters Cliftonville are in action against fourth-placed Glentoran on Monday night.

Results in full:

Saturday 5 January 2013:

Dungannon: Friars, 78

Glenavon: Haughey 14, Martyn 34
Crusaders: McCutcheon 31, Heatley 41, Caddell 65

Linfield: Tipton 8, 41, 86, McCaul pen 9, McAllister 53
Coleraine: Allen 49, Harkin 67

Portadown: Twigg 50

Friday 4 January 2013:

Ballymena: Rodgers 2, Dolan 40, Cushley 48


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