Daniel Hughes netted his first goals of the season as Cliftonville breezed past PSNI in this evening’s League Cup Third Round encounter at Solitude.
Stephen Garrett also opened his 2017/18 account with a brace, with Jay Donnelly contributing a double of his own in addition to Scott McCrory’s eye-catching own goal.
Hughes broke the deadlock with a sixth minute penalty and, after Garrett and Donnelly had found the net, slammed home his second of the night to put the Reds 4-0 up inside 25 minutes.
McCrory’s attempted backpass from wide on the left sailed past his own goalkeeper and into the net, with Garrett popping up for the sixth ahead of Donnelly completing the scoring with just under half an hour left to play.
Though Cliftonville’s victory was convincing, things almost got off to a shock start when visiting striker Lukasz Adamczyk fired in a love drive that called Brett Long into action but it was just a short while later that the floodgates opened at the other end.
After being felled inside the area by Dylan Wilson, Hughes picked himself up to convert from the spot on six minutes, with Garrett tapping into an open goal after a Ciaran Caldwell effort had been repelled by goalkeeper Jordan Williamson.
Jay Donnelly made it 3-0 when, after Williamson had got a touch on a Garrett attempt, he slid in at the far post to net via the woodwork, with Hughes blasting home the fourth from a Caldwell delivery soon later.
Half an hour hadn’t elapsed by the time the Reds made it five with a moment PSNI captain McCrory will want to forget in a hurry.
The police twice went close to reducing the arrears at the end of the first-half when Adamczyk first had a header cleared off the line by Levi Ives and then saw another shot blocked by Jaimie McGovern, whose attempted clearance cannoned off Jamie Harney, who appeared destined to register the second own goal of the night until Long intervened to gather.
Adamczyk again went close on 50 minutes but neither he nor Ashley McDermott could convert when presented with an open goal and, soon later, Garrett showed them how it should be done at the other end when he spun to crack home after Martin Donnelly’s free-kick delivery had dropped favourably in the goalmouth.
Jay Donnelly made it seven just before the hour after namesake Martin had been thwarted by Williamson, who would go on to make a string of saves to ensure the Reds didn’t reach double figures, with Jay Donnelly and Joe Gormley denied in addition to a smart stop that prevented Hughes from sealing his hat-trick.
CLIFTONVILLE: Long, McGovern, Ives, Harney, Hughes, Garrett, M Donnelly, Caldwell, Bagnall, Winchester, J Donnelly. Subs: Neeson, Curran, Gormley (for Garrett), Lavery (for McGovern), R Donnelly (for Winchester).
Half Gate Draw Number: 68486