Cliftonville were held to a scoreless draw by 10-man Coleraine at Solitude this afternoon.
The Reds dominated the contest and could arguably have had all three Danske Bank Premiership points sewn up even before visiting defender Aaron Traynor was dismissed for a foul on Rory Donnelly.
Thereafter, Cliftonville laid further siege to the Bannsiders’ goal, with Jay Donnelly twice going agonisingly close to securing what would have been a deserved victory.
Even so, the contest almost got off to a disastrous start when Eoin Bradley ghosted in on goal with barely a minute on the clock, only for Jamie Harney to produce a magnificent last-gasp challenge that knocked the striker’s effort over the top.
Rory Donnelly should have broken the deadlock just before the quarter-hour but, following good work from Liam Bagnall, was unable to steer his first-time effort on target before Daniel Hughes came closer still when, having seized on a slack pass across the visitors’ defensive line, he worked his way past goalkeeper Chris Johns but found the angle too tight and, by the time he finally got his shot away, Coleraine had drafted enough numbers back to block the danger off.
Hughes then headed Rory Donnelly’s cross over the top and tried his luck from distance, although a positive first-half would end on a sour note when Garry Breen was forced off with injury.
There was no let-up from Cliftonville after the break, however, and Rory Donnelly forced Johns into a save before Jude Winchester’s fierce free-kick delivery whistled across the face of goal.
At the other end, a rare Bannsiders foray forward almost yielded a goal when Ian Parkhill teed Bradley up, but he weighted his attempted chip of Brian Neeson all wrong and the ball tricked harmlessly wide of the target.
The visitors had their numbers reduced when Traynor’s rugby tackle on Rory Donnelly earned a straight red card ahead of the hosts carving out two further golden opportunies to take all three points.
First, a smart passing sequence ended with Winchester threading Jay Donnelly through but, after skipping away from Gareth McConaghie and committing keeper Johns, he dragged his attempt inches wide of the post.
The same player then connected with Stephen Garrett’s cross only to see Johns repel his diving header as the Bannsiders held on for a battling point.
Cliftonville: Neeson, McGovern, Ives, Breen, Harney, Hughes, Garrett, Bagnall, Winchester, Lavery, R Donnelly. Subs: Dunne, Gormley (Hughes, 84 mins), J Donnelly (Lavery, 68 mins), Cosgrove (Breen, 46 mins), A Donnelly.
Half Gate Draw Numbers: 72560; 73959; 70804; 73035; 73521