With little more than a fortnight having passed since Cliftonville brought the curtain down on the 2018/19 season and as the countdown to next month’s Europa League Preliminary Round draw gathers pace, cliftonvillefc.net continues a new weekly mini-series reflecting on the good, the bad and the in-betweens of the term just finished.
Every Monday, we’ll take a chronological look back on a new month from the campaign – with a stuttering September taking centre stage today.
On the back of an unconvincing start to the season, the Reds travelled to Newry City with high hopes of getting back on track against their newly-promoted hosts but fell way short on a forgettable afternoon.
After suffering a double punishment shortly after the interval when John Boyle nodded City in front before Jamie Harney picked up a straight red card, the 10 men should have had a penalty when Thomas Maguire’s blast was charged down by the hands of defender Darren King, however that would not have disguised what was a hugely underwhelming and disappointing display from the visitors.
Cliftonville did, however, hit back when Paddy McLaughlin’s Institute were defeated 3-0 at Solitude, where Ryan Curran opened his goalscoring account for the Club ahead of a Joe Gormley double that home fans hoped might kickstart the team’s campaign – only for a disastrous trip to Warrenpoint Town to follow.
Leading courtesy of a Gormley strike, the Reds – who had controlled the game and were on course for a deserved three points at The Q Radio Arena – contrived to ship two injury-time goals as Town dramatically snatched their first points of the entire season.
Lisburn Distillery were unfortunate to find themselves in the firing line when Cliftonville exorcised their frustrations in a County Antrim Shield First Round success that saw Ryan Catney bag his first strike in two-and-a-half years on a night when Jay Donnelly, Gormley (2) and Ryan Curran were also on the scoresheet.
A sterner test would follow a few days later when in-form Ballymena United were the next visitors to BT14 but, despite falling behind early on, the Reds responded to lead courtesy of Gormley and Chris Curran and, though the Sky Blues looked to have earned a point after making it 2-2, a late Donnelly header ensured victory for the home side.
Levi Ives netted in a 1-1 draw with the Northern Ireland Junior XI before Cliftonville saw the month out with a late turnaround against a stubborn Ards outfit, who had vigorously defended a 1-0 lead before Gormley (2) and Conor McMenamin banked a third consecutive Premiership home win.
September ended with supporters nominating Gormley – who netted eight goals in six appearances – their Sean Graham Player of the Month as Cliftonville headed into October and a televised North Belfast Derby date with Crusaders…
Newry City 1-0 Cliftonville
Cliftonville 3-0 Institute
R Curran, Gormley 
Warrenpoint Town 2-1 Cliftonville
Cliftonville 5-0 Lisburn Distillery
Catney, J Donnelly, Gormley , R Curran
Cliftonville 3-2 Ballymena United
Gormley, C Curran, J Donnelly
Cliftonville 1-1 NI Junior XI
Cliftonville 3-1 Ards
Gormley , McMenamin