Q Radio Sport
Linfield stand on the cusp of claiming another league title following Tuesday's night 3-1 defeat of Crusaders at Windsor Park.
The Blues hold an eight point advantage at the top of the table with nine points left to play for with victory in their next outing enough to secure the Gibson Cup for a 55th time.
David Healy's side led at the break through Mark Stafford's opening goal after a quarter-of-an-hour when he connected with Kirk Millar's corner to turn the ball home at the back post.
Crusaders levelled early in the second half, however, courtesy of a rifled finish from Ben Kennedy at close range high into the net.
But Linfield regained the advantage just before the hour. Niall Quinn sent over a deep corner which Stafford knocked on into the goalmouth for Shayne Lavery to nod past Johnny Tuffey.
And they made sure of the points with six minutes remaining after Joel Cooper netted a third from a few yards out after Cameron Palmer had delivered the decisive ball.
After the match Blues boss Healy admitted Northern Ireland international Lavery is likely to leave during the summer, with the former Everton player set to resume his career across the water.
Linfield: Johns, Stafford, Haughey, Callacher, Stewart, Millar, Lavery, Fallon, Mulgrew, Quinn, Cooper subs Moore, Waterworth, Manzinga, Nasseri, Clarke, Pepper, Palmer
Crusaders: Tuffey, Burns, Kennedy, Cushley, Caddell, Forsythe, Ruddy, Owens, R. Clarke, Larmour, A. Clarke subs Shields, Lowry, O'Rourke, Lecky, Thompson, Logan, Patterson
The Blues' closest rivals Coleraine and Glentoran shared the spoils at The Oval so the battle for second spot - and automatic European qualification - continues.
So @OfficialBlues close in on title - 8 clear, 3 to play— Q Radio News (@qnewsdesk) May 4, 2021
Also wins for @larnefc @thepointfc @Glenavon_FC & @BallymenaUnited
European places still up for grabs after another draw between @Glentoran & @ColeraineFC #IrishCup this Sat, then back to #DanskeBankPrem May 14th/15th pic.twitter.com/c5bjde7a8T
The Danske Bank Women’s Premiership continues on Wednesday night with the second round of action.
There’s a Belfast derby at Solitude between Cliftonville and Linfield Ladies - who both got their campaigns off to winning starts last week.
Elsewhere, champions Glentoran travel to Sion Swifts - where they fell to their sole league defeat last season.
And Crusaders Strikers are hopeful of getting their first points of the campaign as they host Derry City.