Levi Ives powered home the only goal of the game as Cliftonville got the better of Glentoran this afternoon.
In a fiery battle at Solitude, the full-back started and finished 68th the move that stretched the Reds’ winning run to seven games, dispossessing James Ferrin and exchanging passes with Jay Donnelly before slamming past goalkeeper Elliott Morris.
Following an emotional minute’s applause in memory of the late Paul Straney, it was the visitors who carved out the first opening of the day when Curtis Allen garnered some room inside the area but, from a tight angle, could only shoot straight into the hands of goalkeeper Brian Neeson.
A last-ditch block from Jonny Addis prevented Joe Gormley from breaking the deadlock and, after Rory Donnelly had headed straight at Morris, Allen threatened again only for his header to sail wide of the mark after Calum Birney had done well to create the opening.
A loose ball across the face of goal prevented Glentoran with a glorious opportunity midway through the first half but, try as they might, Allen and co simply couldn’t find any way past a combination of Jaimie McGovern and Jamie Harney, who each produced superb blocks to avert the danger.
Gormley saw a strike deflected over the top and, from the resulting corner, Garry Breen nodded wide before another fine block once again thwarted Gormley.
Cliftonville were much improved after the interval and, after both Chris Curran and Gormley had tried their luck, Jonny Addis was relieved to see a clearance fizz over his own crossbar from Rory Donnelly’s dangerous low cross.
Breen went close again when, from close range, he spun to send a half-volley just wide before the deadlock was broken when Ives did well to win possession on the flank and continued his run forward to gather a return pass from Jay Donnelly, which he firmly planted into the net.
Substitute Daniel Hughes’ glancing header almost made it 2-0 and Morris produced a flying block to turn a vicious Jay Donnelly strike behind for a corner before the Reds came close to putting the seal on things in the depths of injury-time when Morris’ wayward clearance fell favourably for Stephen Garrett, whose opportunistic attempt from virtually the halfway line sailed behind.
Cliftonville: Neeson, McGovern, Ives, Breen, Harney, Curran, Bagnall, Gormley, J Donnelly, Cosgrove, R Donnelly. Subs: Dunne, Hughes (Gormley, 70 mins), Garrett (Harney, 52 mins), Winchester, Lavery.