With just over four weeks having passed since Cliftonville brought the curtain down on the 2017/18 season and as this month’s Europa League First Qualifying Round draw edges ever closer, cliftonvillefc.net continues a weekly mini-series reflecting on the good, the bad and the in-betweens of the campaign just finished.
Every Monday, we’re taking a chronological look back on a new month from Barry Gray’s first year at the helm – with an encouraging October falling under our spotlight today.
Having ended September with four straight wins, the Reds maintained their fine form by hammering seven unanswered goals past PSNI in a dominant League Cup Third Round performance at Solitude.
Returning to Danske Bank Premiership duty, first-half goals from Jude Winchester and Chris Curran earned a 2-0 victory over Warrenpoint Town before Rory Donnelly’s brace earned full points against Glentoran at The Oval.
Donnelly was also on target against Coleraine seven days later but, unfortunately, his well-taken strike counted for nothing as the Bannsiders brought Cliftonville’s winning streak to an end by holding on for a 2-1 win.
The Reds hit back the following week, however, with a superb 4-0 defeat of Dungannon Swifts at Stangmore Park, where Donnelly continued his scoring streak with a hat-trick in addition to Joe Gormley finding the net.
October ended with a home duel against Crusaders when, having looked set to end their long winless run in the North Belfast Derby, the concession of two late goals saw Cliftonville – who had come from behind to lead courtesy of a Gormley double – dumped out of the County Antrim Shield at the Quarter Final stage.
Despite that frustrating end to the month, Reds fans were typically enthusiastic in their engagement with the Sean Graham Player of the Month poll where, unsurprisingly, Rory Donnelly – who was also named the NI Football Writers’ star performer – came out on top after netting six goals in as many appearances.
Cliftonville 7-0 PSNI
Hughes 2, Garrett 2, J Donnelly 2, OG
Cliftonville 2-0 Warrenpoint Town
Glentoran 0-2 Cliftonville
R Donnelly 2
Cliftonville 1-2 Coleraine
Dungannon Swifts 0-4 Cliftonville
R Donnelly , Gormley
Cliftonville 2-3 Crusaders