Cliftonville maintained their fine form with a 3-1 victory over Warrenpoint Town at Milltown this afternoon.
Though they conceded their first Danske Bank Premiership goal in six weeks, strikes from Joe Gormley and Rory Donnelly twice had the Reds in front before half-time, with Jay Donnelly wrapping things up in the closing stages.
Warrenpoint made an envcouraging start and Stephen Murray came close to making the breakthrough when he skipped past goalkeeper Brian Neeson only for Jamie Harney to block his effort just as the net was preparing to bulge.
Shortly afterwards at the other end, though, it was Gormley who strode clear to open the scoring inside four minutes; his confident finish from Jay Donnelly’s throughball giving goalkeeper Jonathan Parr no chance in the one-on-one showdown.
Town got the leveller their endeavours merited on 18 minutes thanks to Sean Mackle’s inch-perfect lob but Cliftonville were back in front on the half-hour when Jude Winchester’s quickly-taken free-kick caught the home defence napping and Rory Donnelly pounced to find the far corner.
Garry Breen’s superb challenge on Murray ensured the Reds’ lead would be preserved at half-time, after which the visitors’ change of style nullified the threat that Warrenpoint had posed throughout a very open first 45 minutes.
Rory Donnelly drew a straightforward save from Parr and also headed over from a promising position before Breen was likewise unable to convert a delivery to the back post.
Chris Curran went close to wrapping up the victory five minutes from time, only for the keeper to repel his close-range attempt, however Jay Donnelly would make no mistake in the depths of injury-time when, after assuming possession on the edge of the box, he worked his way towards goal and showed good composure to beat Parr and ensure Cliftonville’s first ever Premiership success at Milltown.
Cliftonville: Neeson, McGovern, Ives, Breen, Harney, Curran, Garrett, Winchester, Gormley, J Donnelly, R Donnelly. Subs: Hughes, M Donnelly, Bagnall (for Winchester, 56 mins), Lavery, Cosgrove (for Garrett, 59 mins).