St James Swifts 0-5 Cliftonville
Thomas Maguire rattled in a hat-trick as Cliftonville recorded a comfortable victory in this afternoon’s friendly with St James Swifts.
Caoimhin McConnell and Jamie Harney were also on target as the Reds – who made 11 changes to the line-up which began Thursday’s Europa League tie with Haugesund – gave game-time to a host of young players.
The first real opening of the contest saw Ryan Curran make some space for himself only to miscue with a wild air shot before Donal Rocks was off target with an effort from the edge of the box.
Maguire drew a smart save from the home keeper, who was quickly back on his feet to keep Ronan Wilson at bay as Cliftonville, who saw Aaron Harkin send a free-kick just wide, sought a breakthrough before half-time.
They got their goal virtually right on the whistle when Harkin’s touch allowed Maguire to jink his way through and, after coolly sidestepping the keeper, he rolled the ball into an empty net.
The second-half was just two minutes old by the time Maguire got his second; an instinctive close-range finish after McConnell had flicked Darren Hyland’s cross into his path.
He almost bagged his hat-trick soon later but, after smartly touching the ball round the keeper, found the angle too tight to squeeze the ball home – however he wouldn’t have long to wait before his treble was complete.
Before that, though, he supplied the pass from which McConnell made it 3-0 with a thumping drive and, within seconds of one another, substitutes Calvin McCurry and Peter McKiernan went close to adding the fourth; McCurry’s acrobatic effort coming back off the crossbar and McKiernan’s follow-up blocked on the line.
A foul on Maguire left referee Shane Andrews with little choice but to point at the spot and the striker promptly picked himself up to dispatch a well-taken penalty.
In the final minutes, St James’ failure to clear a corner kick saw the Reds recycle possession and, when the ball dropped inside the area, Harney cleverly hooked a shot back over his shoulder and into the net to complete the day’s scoring.
Cliftonville: Dunne, Foster, Harney, Casey, Hyland, Harkin, Wilson, Rocks, McConnell, Maguire, R Curran. Subs: McKiernan (for Curran), McCurry (for Harkin).