Cliftonville completed their pre-season preparations with a 2-0 win over Swords Celtic in often comical weather conditions at Solitude this afternoon.
An unpredictable swirling breeze added an interesting dynamic during a first-half of torrential rain, thunder and flashes of lightning and, with both sides hamstrung in their attempts to play football, it was no surprise to find the contest scoreless at the interval, although the Reds – who were grateful to goalkeeper Brian Neeson for a fine stop to thwart Graham Leahey – did see a Jay Donnelly effort ruled out for offside.
The breakthrough came early in the second-half when, following Stephen Trimble’s block of a Caoimhin McConnell half-volley, a Trialist’s follow-up was handled on the line by Gavin Smith, who was promptly dismissed by referee Jamie Robinson before Ryan Curran stepped up to convert from the penalty spot.
The Trialist, who netted in Thursday’s defeat of Ballinamallard United, went close to doubling Cliftonville’s advantage on a couple of occasions and the hosts should have been awarded a second penalty when McConnell was clattered by Trimble, but it took until the 89th minute until the second goal of the day; McConnell blasting home after some great word by our Trialist on the flank.
Cliftonville: Neeson, McGovern, Harney, C Curran, Garrett, R Donnelly, Bagnall, J Donnelly, Lavery, McMenamin, A Donnelly. Subs: Breen (for A Donnelly), R Curran (for J Donnelly), White (for C Curran), Catney (for McGovern), McConnell (for R Donnelly), Trialist (for McMenamin).