The Reds took the lead as early as the sixth minute on Saturday when Mark Smyth took a touch from Martin Donnelly's corner before lashing a volley low past Alvin Rouse in the Mallards' goal.
Smyth added a second before the break, with the goal again coming from a corner.
The defender met Donnelly's delivery with a fine header which went in off the underside of the bar.
The hosts improved after the break and pulled one back in the 58th minute when David Kee netted with a superb curling free kick, which beat Conor Devlin at his near post.
However, Stephen Garrett killed off any chance of a comeback by the hosts when he netted with a low drive from distance in the 73rd minute.
Arguably the game of the day came at Shamrock Park, with Glentoran coming from two goals down to earn an 4-2 victory over nine-man Portadown.
Gary Breen was sent off in the eighth minute following an off-the-ball incident involving Glens keeper Elliot Morris, but despite that setback it was the hosts who took the lead just before the half-hour mark when Darren Murray latched onto a superb ball from Kevin Braniff and evaded his marker to open the scoring.
Murray netted his second of the afternoon in the 41st minute when he got the vital touch Ross Redman's ball into the box, before Andy Waterworth pulled one back for the visitors with a superb turn and finish two minutes later.
It was Murray though who was involved in the final incident of an eventful first half when he was sent off following an incident with Jay Magee.
A stubborn defensive display from Portadown frustrated the visitors for much of the second half, but Glentoran eventually made their numerical advantage count in the 83rd minute when Mark Clark headed in from close range.
Magee then scored from the spot before substitute Carl McCombe made sure of the victory with a goal in injury time.
Second-placed Crusaders heaped more misery on bottom side Lisburn Distillery with a 3-1 win over Tim McCann's struggling side at Seaview.
Jordan Owens opened the scoring for the Crues with a header in the 58th minute, before captain Colin Coates added a second with a headed effort of his own ten minutes later.
Distillery hauled themselves back into it thanks to a superb long-range strike from Gary Liggett, but as Distillery went in search of the equaliser they were found wanting in defence, and were made to pay in injury time when Declan Caddell scored on the break to consolidate their place in the table.
Champions Linfield moved up to fifth in the table with a 2-1 victory over Dungannon Swifts at Windsor Park.
Peter Thompson opened the scoring for David Jeffrey's side with a superb header from Michael Carville's pinpoint free kick in the second minute.
The Blues added a second from the penalty spot, with Brian McCaul netting after Billy Joe Burns was fouled by Fra Brennan just inside the area four minutes into the second half.
Dungannon pulled one back when Stefan Lavery lashed a shot into the roof of the net from close-range in the 68th minute, but Linfield held on for the victory.
In the game at Mourneview Park Glenavon marked player-boss Gary Hamilton's first year in charge of the club with an emphatic 4-1 victory, as they consigned Ballymena United to their fifth successive league defeat.
The opening goal had more than a hint of good fortune about it, as Guy Bates' sixth-minute free kick was deflected off the Ballymena wall and into the top corner.
Jamie Davidson equalised with a fine run and finish three minutes later, but Glenavon were the better side throughout the opening period and took the lead again in the 39th minute through Kris Lindsay's header.
Ciaran Martyn made it 3-1 seven minutes after the restart before Bates netted his second in injury time to complete the rout and reduce the margin between the sides in the league table to just two points.
Finally Coleraine secured a narrow 2-1 victory over Donegal Celtic to move into fourth place in the league table.
Curtis Allen netted the opening goal when he headed in David Scullion's cross a minute before the break, with Darren Boyce capitalising on some indecision from DC keeper John Connolly to volley home the second two minutes after the restart.
Ciaran Gargin's free kick reduced the deficit for the visitors, but Coleraine had already done enough to clinch the win.
Saturday's results in full:
Ballinamallard 1-3 Cliftonville
Ballinamallard: Kee 58.
Cliftonville: Smyth 5, 22, Garrett 73.
Coleraine 2-1 Donegal Celtic
Coleraine: Allen 44, Boyce 47.
Donegal Celtic: Gargin 57.
Crusaders 3-1 Lisburn Distillery
Crusaders: Owens 58, Coates 68, Caddell 90
Lisburn Distillery: Liggett 70.
Glenavon 4-1 Ballymena Utd
Glenavon: Bates 6, 83, Lindsay 39, Martyn 52.
Ballymena Utd: J Davidson 9.
Linfield 2-1 Dungannon Swifts
Linfield: Thompson 2, McCaul 49 (PEN).
Dungannon Swifts: Lavery 66
Portadown 2-4 Glentoran
Portadown: Murray 30, 41.
Glentoran: Waterworth 43, Clarke 83, Magee pen 87, McComb 90+2.