Lisbellaw United 1-6 Cliftonville
Joe Gormley was one of three players to double up as Cliftonville overcame Lisbellaw United at Drumad this afternoon.
Having already missed a penalty, Gormley opened the scoring just before half-time with interval introduction Jay Donnelly and midfielder Jude Winchester netting twice in addition to a close-range Gormley strike after the turnaround.
Not unexpectedly, it was the Reds who made all the early running with Gormley’s half-volley forcing a save from goalkeeper James McGrath, who also did well to cut out dangerous crosses from Winchester and Daniel Hughes.
Winchester’s header from Martin Donnelly’s delivery almost broke the deadlock before Cliftonville were awarded a penalty when Gormley was felled in the area. Having witnessed their team conduct an utterly appalling record from the spot in the second half of last season, Reds supporters were hopeful that a new campaign might usher in a new era of ruthlessness from 12 yards but those dreams were short-lived as Gormley became the latest player to fail in that regard when his effort was repelled by McGrath.
He did find the net shortly afterwards, though, with a smart snapshot from inside the area and, following the introduction of six substitutions at the break, the Reds exerted further authority on proceedings with a flurry of goals shortly after the re-start, but not before Chris Curran had rattled the woodwork with a fine attempt from distance.
First, Jay Donnelly netted from Stephen Garrett’s cross and did likewise following a Curran delivery before Gormley was on hand to convert from a corner.
Winchester slammed in the fifth ahead of the hosts pulling one back when a long-range free-kick took a huge deflection off Liam Bagnall and looped over the despairing grasp of goalkeeper Brett Long.
Though Lisbellaw hit the crossbar shortly afterwards, Cliftonville would have the final say when Winchester registered his second of the day in injury-time, restoring the five-goal margin and putting the seal on a confident display from Barry Gray’s side.
REDS: Neeson, McGovern, Breen, Ramsey, Hughes, M Donnelly, Caldwell, Bagnall, Winchester, Gormley, Lavery. Subs: Long (for Neeson), Ives (for Lavery), Curran (for Caldwell), Garrett (for M Donnelly), J Donnelly (for Hughes), G Donnelly (for Breen).