Levi Ives slammed home another stunning free-kick as Cliftonville saw off Warrenpoint Town at Solitude this afternoon.
The defender, who opened the scoring with a set-piece against Carrick Rangers last time out, doubled the Reds’ advantage today after Garry Breen had made the breakthrough with a looping header.
Though the visitors reduced the arrears through Marc Griffin with five minutes left to play, fears of another late horror show against Warrenpoint were allayed when Jay Donnelly restored Cliftonville’s two-goal advantage soon later.
The Reds started brightly and, straight from kick-off, Chris Curran found Joe Gormley, who picked out Rory Donnelly for a drive that was deflected behind for a corner.
Donnelly then had a header dealt with by visiting keeper Aaron McCarey, who showed alert reactions to prevent Gormley capitalising on some defensive indecision on 14 minutes.
A surging run from Jaimie McGovern saw him provide a cutback to Rory Donnelly, but his poor touch allowed Conall McGrandles to clear the danger before Ryan Catney was next to try his luck – albeit with a strike that threatened the corner flag more than the back of the net.
McCarey’s save from another Rory Donnelly effort provided the Reds with a corner, with Breen meeting Curran’s delivery to open the scoring.
Straight from the restart, home keeper Richard Brush did well to stop Griffin banking an immediate leveller but it wans’t long before the hosts had doubled their advantage; Ives unleashing an inch-perfect free-kick from 30 yards.
Breen went close to adding his second of the day amid a goalmouth scramble and, early in the second-half, Town midfielder Fra McCaffrey wasted a glorious chance when he headed wide from close range.
Gormley was denied the addition of his name to the scoresheet when McCarey was quick off his line to produce a block and, when Gormley retrieved possession to tee up Rory Donnelly, the keeper’s acrobatic stop turned his header behind for a corner.
After Gormley was inches wide with a free-kick, Warrenpoint pulled a goal back when Ciaran O’Connor sent Griffin clear through the middle and he made no mistake with a well-taken finish.
Home fears of more dropped points could have been allayed when Jay Donnelly provided Gormley with an open net, but the Cliftonville frontman got his touch all wrong, allowing a relieved McCarey to gather the ball.
Within a minute, however, the Reds made sure of the points. This time it was Gormley who found Jay Donnelly and, though his initial effort came back off the post, he made no mistake at the second time of asking.
Cliftonville: Brush, McGovern, Ives, Breen, C Curran, R Donnelly (Maguire, 88 mins), Catney, Gormley, J Donnelly, McMenamin (Garrett, 83 mins), McNulty. Unused subs: Neeson, R Curran, McConnell, Lavery, A Donnelly.
Matchball Sponsor: E Sharvin & Sons
Half Gate Draw Number: 92854