Irish Championship: Cliftonville are on top as Glenavon beat the Crues

Ronan Doherty scored the only goal of the game as Cliftonville beat title rivals Linfield 1-0 to go top of the Irish Premiership table.

The Reds have a three-point lead after playing a game more than Larne, who had no schedule on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, Glenavon beat title challengers Crusaders 4-2 at Mourneview Park and Coleraine beat Newry City 2-1 at the Showgrounds.

Glentoran v Ballymena United has been postponed following a pitch inspection.

Cliftonville held on for a big three points as Doherty’s first-half strike secured victory for the Reds in Solitude.

The midfielder opened the scoring in the 12th minute when he pounced on Ronan Hale’s perfectly weighted ball and put the hosts in the lead with a sharp shot.

The home side led in the first half but were almost made to pay when Joel Cooper went down in the box following a challenge from Levi Ives as the winger tried to get on top of Eetu Vertainen’s cross, but referee Tim Marshall waved away any appeal.

The reigning champions responded in the second half, with Cooper’s effort saved from close range by Nathan Gartside before Ives was forced to head Daniel Finlayson off the line from a corner.

In the same period of play, Marshall was again in the limelight when he waved away Linfield’s protests at Jamie McDonagh’s handball in the Cliftonville penalty area, much to the frustration of David Healy.

The Cliftonville goal remained under siege for the rest of the half as south Belfast tried to equalise, but Paddy McLaughlin’s men held firm to secure all three points.

Glenavon destroyed the hopes of the Crusaders

Two goals from Peter Campbell along with a strike from Matthew Fitzpatrick and a comical own goal from Jarlath O’Rourke secured all three points for Gary Hamilton’s side at Mourneview Park, despite a Billy Joe Burns shout.

The home side broke the deadlock nine minutes before the break when the in-form Campbell created half a yard of space on the edge of the box before firing a fierce shot into the bottom right corner.

Glenavon scored their second just four minutes later through Fitzpatrick, who scored his 10th league goal of the season with a header from close range.

Philip Lowry couldn’t miss from close range as he scored his 13th league goal of the season to hit back for the Crusaders early in the second half, but just minutes later, Lurgan Blues got their two goals back when Campbell helped himself to his second goal of the night.

The Crusaders reduced the deficit again thanks to a spectacular strike from Burns, who fired the ball over the head of a defender from 20 yards, but Glenavon secured the three points just minutes into the game when O’Rourke headed Jonathan Tuffey into his own net.

Coleraine battle near Newry

Coleraine moved to within two points of fourth-placed Crusaders thanks to a hard-earned 2-1 win in difficult conditions at Newry City.

Flowing play was difficult on the Showgrounds pitch, which had passed a pre-match inspection, and Josh Carson put the visitors ahead after 34 minutes with a beautifully taken free kick from the edge of the box.

Michael McCrudden doubled their lead just after the hour mark when he was given the time and space to fire low under the dive of Newry keeper Steven Maguire.

It looked like the Bannsiders would run out comfortable winners, but Daniel Hughes’ 85th penalty changed all that.

James Teelan must have thought he had scored when he went one-on-one with Marty Gallagher, but the Coleraine keeper got a vital touch to prevent an equaliser.

Teelan had other chances, as did Bannsiders striker Jamie Glackin who saw Ryan McGivern head his effort off the line, but Coleraine’s greater experience saw them hold on for a welcome three points.

Cliftonville 1-0 Linfield
Glenavon 4-2 Crusaders
Newry City 1-2 Coleraine
Glentoran -P- Ballymena United

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