SportNorthern Ireland Sport

Linfield maintain a 100% record in magnificent style

Guy Bates and Andy Waterworth combine for Linfield win
Guy Bates and Andy Waterworth combine for Linfield win

Linfield leave the home support at Windsor Park purring

Linfield took a two point lead at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership league table thanks to a fifth straight league win of the season.

Portadown were expected to give the Blues their sternest examination but, with a depleted side, were put to the sword easily by a dominant Linfield.

The visitors held out until eight minutes after the restart when Andy Waterworth scored the first of two goals within the space of ten minutes.

Guy Bates made sure of all three points with deflected goal on 78 minutes and it was a just reward for the 29-year-old Geordie, who epitomised everything that was good about Linfield.

And there was plenty to admire on Saturday afternoon as the Blues were hugely impressive and entertaining, rightly receiving appreciate applause at the end for this was as good a Linfield display as has been seen at Windsor Park in quite a while.

Fellow pacesetters Cliftonville slipped up against basement battlers Warrenpoint at Milltown on Sunday afternoon, drawing 2-2 to trail Linfield by two points.

Jordan Dane scored an own goal to give the Reds a 16th minute lead but 'Point soon turned this around thanks to the exploits of the Hughes brothers.

Remarkably,it was Stephen and Mark Hughes who got two first half goals rather than their brother Daniel, who was linked with Bolton, Linfield and indeed Cliftonville in the summer.

Cliftonville substitute Martin Murray rescued a point with a left foot strike on 68 minutes but manager Tommy Breslin labelled the performance 'sluggish' afterwards.

In the only other Saturday game, Champions Crusaders made it three wins on the spin thanks to a comfortable 4-0 win over Dungannon Swifts at Seaview.

Josh Robinson opened for the home side, Jordan Owens bagged a brace and midfielder Matthew Snoddy finished the Tyrone side off to leave the Crues five points behind Linfield.

There were three Friday night games with Coleraine the only victors as they beat Ballinamallard United for the first time in thirteen attempts.

Liam Martin put the visitors ahead in the first period but James McLaughlin levelled on 70 minutes before Jamie McGonigle nicked all three points with a 90th minute winner.

Ballymena United got their first point of the campaign against newcomers Carrick Rangers but they had to work for it.

Jim Ervin was sent off for bringing striker Miguel Chines down as he sped into the box, and a penalty was awarded and converted by Chines, though the foul seemed to have taken place outside the box.

Both sides could have scored before Allan Jenkins saved the day for ten-man Ballymena with a close range finish from a Kyle McVey delivery.

Glenavon and Glentoran fought out a goalless but entertaining draw at Mourneview Park to leave them with seven and six points respectively from their five games to date.