Cliftonville produced an appalling defensive display en route to an humiliating defeat to bottom-of-the-table Ballinamallard United this evening.
Two goals down early on courtesy of strikes from Ryan Curran and Sean Noble – who were each afforded ample time and space to pick their spot – the Reds reduced the arrears through Jay Donnelly before further calamity at the back opened the door for Stephen O’Flynn to make it 3-1.
Whatever hopes the visiting support had that the half-time turnaround might spark Cliftonville into greater action was snuffed out virtually instantly when, straight from kick-off, the Reds contrived to concede both possession and then a penalty, with Curran stepping up to extend United’s advantage.
Ross Lavery’s firm finish made it 4-2 before Joe Gormley struck to revive dreams of a turnaround, but James McKenna would restore the Mallards’ two-goal margin when he was given the freedom of the visitors’ half to surge forward and find the bottom corner.
A delightful strike from Gormley restored what flickering hope Cliftonville had of an unlikely salvage act but, again, the Reds failed to build on their momentum and, after spurning opportunities to make it 5-5, were finally sunk when Jonathan Leddy seized on a poor clearance to net from virtually the halfway line in the final seconds.
Cliftonville: Neeson, Ives, Breen, Harney, Curran, Winchester, Gormley, J Donnelly, Lavery, Cosgrove, R Donnelly Subs: Dunne, Garrett (Lavery 54, mins), Grimes, McDonald (Curran, 68 mins), Reynolds.