With the new season set to be ushered in with Europa League action in just over a fortnight, cliftonvillefc.net continues a weekly mini-series reflecting on the good, the bad and the in-betweens of the 2017/18 campaign.
Every Monday, we’re taking a chronological look back on a new month from Barry Gray’s first year at the helm – with a frustrating December, which the Reds started well before fading away, falling under our spotlight today.
Following on from a November that saw the team win every game without conceding a single goal, the new month began in promising fashion when Joe Gormley opened the scoring on a Danske Bank Premiership visit to Warrenpoint Town. The hosts equalised soon later – becoming the first side to breach Cliftonville’s defence in some six weeks – only for Donnelly brothers Rory and Jay to seal a 3-1 victory.
The postponement of the subsequent Solitude meeting with Glenavon meant the Reds had to wait a further two weeks before returning to action, when a blistering Levi Ives drive proved sufficient to see off Glentoran – but that would, unfortunately, prove to the the last highlight of 2017.
In their last outing before Christmas, Gray’s troops slumped to a 2-0 loss against Linfield at Windsor Park and suffered a similar fate when they visited Seaview for the festive North Belfast Derby date with Crusaders.
Redemption of sorts was earned with a much improved performance against Coleraine on a day when, try as they might, Cliftonville simply could not put the ball in the net during a scoreless draw on home soil, ahead of the year ending with supporters voting defender Garry Breen as their Sean Graham Player of the Month.
Warrenpoint Town 1-3 Cliftonville
Gormley, R Donnelly, J Donnelly
Cliftonville 1-0 Glentoran
Linfield 2-0 Cliftonville
Crusaders 2-0 Cliftonville
Cliftonville 0-0 Coleraine