Cliftonville produced a below-par performance en route to defeat against Newry City at The Showgrounds this afternoon.
After bossing possession in a first-half that saw Jay Donnelly, Jamie Harney and Conor McDonald go close in the same goalmouth scramble, the Reds suffered a double punishment shortly after the interval when John Boyle nodded the hosts in front before Harney picked up a straight red card for a foul on Stefan Lavery.
The 10 men were unable to fashion anything of note in their bid to salvage something from the afternoon and, while Cliftonville should have had a penalty when Thomas Maguire’s blast was charged down by the hands of Newry defender Darren King, it would not have disguised what was a hugely underwhelming and disappointing display from the visitors.
Though the Reds enjoyed plenty of possession in the opening exchanges, they had only a tame Chris Curran effort to show for their efforts until just before the break when a corner kick delivery saw a Donnelly header blocked ahead of rebound efforts from Harney and McDonald suffering the same fate.
After being forced into a defensive reshuffle when Garry Breen hobbled off at half-time, Cliftonville were dealt a double blow early in the second period when first Boyle’s header broke the deadlock and then Harney received that dismissal.
Unsurprisingly, Newry revelled in the greater space that was afforded to them thereafter with both Stephen and Mark Hughes going close in addition to Conall Delaney volleying over from a promising position.
The Reds were furious not to be awarded a penalty when King charged a Maguire blast down with his hands while, at the other end, Aaron Donnelly recovered well to clear off the line after goalkeeper Richard Brush had taken the sting out of King’s shot.
A low Jay Donnelly shot was, in truth, the most the visitors were able to muster by way of a late rally as City comfortably held on to take three deserved points.
Cliftonville: Brush, Ives, Breen, Harney, C Curran, Garrett, McDonald, Bagnall, Catney, Gormley, J Donnelly. Subs: McGovern, R Curran (Garrett, 55 mins), Neeson, McConnell, Lavery, Maguire (McDonald, 55 mins), A Donnelly (Breen, 46 mins).