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Five-star Reds make Cup progress

Cliftonville 5-1 Lisburn Distillery

Cliftonville progressed to the Third Round of the League Cup with a 5-1 victory over Lisburn Distillery at Solitude this evening.

Joe Gormley’s double set the Reds on their way and Jay Donnelly seized on a poor backpass to make it 3-0 before half-time.

Caoimhin McConnell marked his debut with a stunning strike early in the second-half and, after Francis Dugan pulled one back for the Whites, Conor McMenamin registered his first goal for the Club with a well-taken effort in injury-time.

The hosts got off to quite a slow start and, having been pressed high up the park by Distillery, took until almost the halfway stage of opening period before launching their first meaningful attack – and it reaped dividends when Gormley sprayed the ball wide to Thomas Maguire, whose delivery was blasted home by the striker.

Gormley should have made it 2-0 soon later when he struck wide after being teed up by Chris Curran, but he atoned for that miss when he was on hand to follow up after Donnelly’s attempt was blocked by goalkeeper Jonah Mitchell.

Within a minute, Cliftonville had their third as Donnelly seized upon Alan McMurtry’s poor back-header to confidently add his name to the scoresheet.

The goal of the night arrived shortly after the interval when Maguire’s cross, which was too high for Gormley, was picked up on the far side of the box by McConnell, who turned inside before curling a beauty of a strike into the top corner.

The lively Maguire thundered an effort against the  post as he went about opening his account for the Reds, but it was the visitors who would net next; Dugan getting the better of Brian Neeson just minutes after the Cliftonville keeper had made a superb stop to thwart Matthew Ferguson.

Gormley almost completed his hat-trick in the 89th minute only to be denied at point-blank range by Nicholl, whose heroics paled a little in injury-time when his miscued clearance on the edge of the box allowed McMenamin to take control and dink a smart chip over the keeper’s despairing dive to complete the scoring.

Cliftonville: Neeson, Breen, Harney, C Curran, McDonald, Bagnall, McConnell, Gormley, J Donnelly, Maguire, A. Donnelly. Subs: McGovern, Ives, Garrett, White (McDonald, 62 mins), Catney, Lavery (Breen, 62 mins), McMenamin (J Donnelly, 52 mins).

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