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Sav the day

John Savage struck an opening night hat-trick as Cliftonville Strollers commenced the new Academy League Under 18 season with victory over Ballymena United.

Staged at Seaview last night, the contest marked the Reds’ maiden appearance in the revamped NI Football League set-up and Marc Smyth’s charges rose to the occasion by pocketing all three points in a pulsating 3-2 win that saw Savage lay claim to the matchball with an eye-catching treble.