Glenavon hit Ards for six to extend their lead over Linfield in the battle for third spot while Glentoran struck late to beat Carrick Rangers 2-1.
Two first-half goals from Jay Donnelly and Conor McDonald helped Cliftonville to a 3-1 win over Warrenpoint Town.
Andy Mitchell and Stephen Murray both scored twice in a thumping 6-1 win to put Glenavon six points clear in third.
Marcus Kane’s header moved Glentoran into the top six after Darren Henderson cancelled out Robbie McDaid’s opener.
- How they stand: Irish Premiership table
Glenavon, who have gone nine games unbeaten since the start of 2018, are now six points ahead of champions Linfield and Cliftonville in the race for third place.
Andrew Mitchell continued his prolific season connecting with Rhys Marshall’s cross from the left at the near post to stab the ball home after just two minutes.
Stephen Murray doubled the visitors’ lead after 21 minutes and Ards, reeling from the disappointment of their four-goal hammering by Carrick, fell further behind in the second half when Cooper side-footed home from six yards after 56 minutes.
Reece Glendinning threw them a lifeline 10 minutes later, but Glenavon clinically snuffed out any brief hopes of a comeback with Murray and Mitchell both finding the net for a second time.
Marc Griffin made it six, heading in off the post from a corner five minutes from time.
It was a fourth straight defeat for Ards and manager Colin Nixon said: “We were really poor again, defending was really poor and it’s another shocking display by us”.
“Defensively we’re all at sea at the minute. We were doing so well earlier in the season, which is what got us up the table, but we need to improve on that as quickly as possible”
Cliftonville moved level on points with fourth-placed Linfield, with all their goals coming in the first half.
Manager Barry Gray wanted a response from inconsistent Cliftonville after their League Cup semi-final defeat by Ballymena United, and he got it, with two goals inside the opening 10 minutes at Milltown.
Jay Donnelly fired low into the bottom corner after nine minutes and 70 seconds later Conor McDonald charged down Jordan Dane’s clearance and drilled a low shot into the far right corner.
Warrenpoint got back into it through Martin Murray, who latched on to Sean Mackle’s long ball forward and lobbed the out-rushing Cliftonville ‘keeper Brian Neeson.
Joe Gormley restored Cliftonville’s two-goal cushion after McDonald capitalised on some poor defensive play, and Gormley found the target in off the post.
Gormley went close to adding his second while Mackle forced a great save from Neeson late on.
There was controversy early at Carrick as the home side hit the woodwork twice, first through Henderson and then Andrew Mooney, whose shot appeared to have crossed the line.
Within a minute, Glentoran had scored through Robbie McDaid’s side foot into the bottom corner.
Carrick wanted to put further distance between themselves and Ballinamallard United at the bottom of the table and drew level six minutes before the break when Callum Birney failed to clear Mooney’s cross and Henderson pounced from 10 yards.
The home side were awarded a penalty when Ross Redman fouled Lee Chapman but Henderson’s shot hit the post.
Dylan Davidson hit the bar and in the last minute of normal time Kane headed home James Knowles’ free-kick to move the Glens into sixth place ahead of Ballymena United.
|Danske Bank Irish Premiership|