Published Saturday, 18 January 2014
Phillip Lowry scores during the game at the Showgrounds. (© Pacemaker)
The Blues began the day just one point ahead of the chasing pack, and it looked as though that lead could be cut altogether when Alan Teggart fired in for the Sky Blues on the stroke of half-time.
However the complexion of the game changed six minutes after the restart when Ballymena defender Tony Kane was sent off for a second booking, and Phillip Lowry headed in the equaliser from an Andrew Waterworth cross in the 62nd minute.
The winner came just six minutes later when substitute Jamie Mulgrew reacted quickest to a blocked Michael Gault free kick and smashed the ball home from the edge of the area.
The afternoon got better for David Jeffrey's side with news that both Cliftonville and Crusaders had dropped points.
Second-placed Cliftonville suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat to Portadown at Solitude, with the Reds normally reliable strike pairing of Joe Gormley and Liam Boyce having a rare off-day in front of goal.
Portadown duly capitalised, with Gary Twigg meeting Darren Murray's delivery with a close-range finish in the 66th minute to seal their second league victory of the season against Tommy Breslin's side.
In the game at Milltown Crusaders slipped eight points off the pace after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Warrenpoint Town.
The Crues took an early lead through Paul Heatley's fifth minute strike, and the game looked over when Warrenpoint were reduced to ten men soon after the restart.
Darren King received his marching orders after picking up a second yellow card in the 54th minute, but the hosts rallied well and got their reward in the 68th minute when Marty Haveron fired a superb curtling effort past Sean O'Neill.
In the game at the Oval, Glentoran came from behind to secure a point with a 1-1 draw against Coleraine.
The Bannsiders took the lead in the 12th minute when David McDaid controlled a Gareth Tommins cross before teeing up Ruairi Harkin to lash the ball into the bottom corner.
However Eddie Patterson's side battled back into the contest and equalised when Aaron Boyd reacted quickest to the rebound after Curtis Allen's shot came back off the post.
Elsewhere Glenavon returned to winning ways in the league after two straight league defeats with a 2-1 win away to Ballinamallard United.
Gary Hamilton's side took the lead in the third minute when new signing Tiarnan Mulvenna Steering in a header from Kyle Neill's corner, but the Mallards replied when captain Mark Stafford netted with a header of his own in the 31st minute.
The sides looked to be heading for a draw until Mark Patton got a foot onto David Kee's searching free kick and steered the ball past Alvin Rouse in the Ballinamallard goal to seal the victory.
Finally Dungannon Swifts came from behind to secure a 3-1 win over basement side Ards at Clandeboye Park.
The game kicked off at 5.30pm in order to accommodate a fixture involving Championship side Bangor, who are sharing their ground with Niall Currie's side, and the hosts went ahead in the 38th minute when Ross Arthurs set up Craig McMillen to fire past Gareth Buchanan.
The visitors were awarded a penalty soon after David Gibson brought down Mickey Hazley, only for Hazley to see his spot-kick saved by Alan Blayney.
However, the equaliser came six minutes into the second half through Mark Brolly's low drive, and took the lead when Gary Liggett converted a Jamie Tomelty cross from close range.
Liggett made sure of the win when Liggett steered the ball past the advancing Blayney with five minutes to seal a victory which leaves Ards nine points adrift at the bottom of the Irish Premiership table.
Danske Bank Premiership Results:
Ballinamallard United 1 - 2 Glenavon
Ballinamallard: Mark Stafford (31)
Glenavon: Tiarnan Mulvenna (3), Mark Patton (88)
Ballymena United 1 - 2 Linfield
Ballymena United: Alan Teggart (45)
Linfield: Philip Lowry (62), Jamie Mulgrew (68)
Cliftonville 0 - 1 Portadown
Portadown: Gary Twigg (66)
Glentoran 1 - 1 Coleraine
Glentoran: Aaron Boyd (56)
Coleraine: Ruairi Harkin (12)
Warrenpoint Town 1 - 1 Crusaders
Warrenpoint: Marty Havern (68)
Crusaders: Paul Heatley (5)
Ards 1 - 3 Dungannon Swifts
Ards: Craig McMillen (38)
Dungannon Swifts: Marc Brolly (51), Gary Liggett (66, 85)
© UTV News