Drop of a hat
Friday night’s clash with Ards was Cliftonville’s 2600th competitive home fixture – and the occasion didn’t pass without a few more noteworthy landmarks being chalked up.
Jay Donnelly, who made his 150th appearance for the Club in last week’s win over Carrick Rangers, hit all three goals to claim his second hat-trick of the season and the 157th in the Reds’ history.
The 22-year-old – who also netted a treble in September’s County Antrim Shield triumph over Knockbreda – is one of four players to achieve the feat this term, with older brother Rory earning the matchball in October’s Danske Bank Premiership win at Dungannon Swifts ahead of Jamie Harney and Joe Gormley banking Irish Cup hat-tricks against Warrenpoint Town and Crusaders, respectively.
As well as becoming the 20th Cliftonville player to break the 20-goal barrier in a season, Donnelly ensured that – for just the fifth time ever – two Reds stars had surpassed 20 strikes in the same campaign; Gormley joining him in that select category for 2017/18.
In addition, Friday, which was Cliftonville’s 288th meeting with Ards and earned a ninth win in 10 home games against the North Down side, was the first time Donnelly had scored more than once in a Premiership game since the 6-3 victory over the same opponents back in August.