A WONDER strike by Tony Kane gave Ballymena three valuable points after a shock win on Tuesday night against Glentoran.
The match was perfectly balanced on a knife edge until the 90th minute when up stepped Kane with a fabulous shot that sent travelling Ballymena fans delirious and sent his manager Glenn Ferguson home a happy man.
And Linfield fans were also delighted as a Glentoran win would have closed the gap on the Blues to four points.
Cliftonville maintained their position on top of the Danske Bank Irish Premier League with a 1-0 win over Donegal Celtic at Suffolk Road.
They have now stretched their lead over Crusaders to nine points.
Out of 25 games played this season, Cliftonville have won 18, drawn four and lost three.
Stephen Garrett gave Cliftonville the 1-0 victory after running on to Liam Boyce’s deft flick through and went on to beat home keeper John Connolly on 37 minutes.
Striker Mark Miskimmin hooked a chance wide for DC early in the second half.
Garrett told BBC NI Sport: “Donegal Celtic made it hard for us but there is a belief in our changing room that we can do things this season,” said matchwinner Garrett.
“It was all about the three points tonight. The pitch was not great but the early goal settled us down.”
On the goal, Garrett said: “When the ball finds Liam’s feet you know he can find you. I just made the run.”
Tommy Breslin’s Reds, now nine points ahead of second-placed Crusaders, are away to Portadown on Saturday while Donegal Celtic are at home to champions Linfield.
“It was a battle and we are delighted with the three points,” Breslin told the BBC.
“These are the type of matches you have to win if you are going to win the league.
“We showed we can grind out results – we cannot always win by scoring pretty goals.”
In another shock, Ballinamallard thumped Coleraine 5-1 at the Showgrounds.
The result leapfrogged the Mallards into fourth place ahead of Coleraine and Glentoran.
Dungannon Swifts beat Glenavon 2-1 at Stangmore Park.
It means the Swifts have moved up one place to fourth from bottom but Glenavon drop one into the bottom three.