With just three days until Cliftonville are involved in Europa League Preliminary Round action, cliftonvillefc.net continues a weekly mini-series reflecting on the good, the bad and the in-betweens of the 2018/19 season.
Every Monday, we’re taking a chronological look back on a new month from the campaign – with a January of change taking centre stage today.
After ending 2018 with three straight defeats, the New Year wasn’t rung in with any sort of promise as the Reds crashed to a heavy loss at Coleraine.
After conceding two goals in as many first-half minutes, the visitors pulled one back when Liam Bagnall scored with what was his first ever shot in Cliftonville colours, only for the Bannsiders to register twice in the final quarter of an hour to seal a 4-1 success.
The Reds were much improved when Dungannon Swifts visited Solitude on Tennent’s Irish Cup duty the following week but, try as they might, simply couldn’t cancel out the Seanan Clucas header that ensured the earliest of exits from the competition.
A 4-1 triumph over struggling Ards the following week – when Ryan Curran, Conor McMenamin, Rory Donnelly and Joe Gormley were all on target – lifted spirits somewhat only for another crushing defeat at the hands of Dungannon to recast the gloom.
Former Cliftonville striker Daniel Hughes broke the deadlock at Stangmore Park where, despite Jamie Harney’s second-half leveller, Hughes’ completion of a hat-trick condemned the Reds to defeat on a day that ended with Manager Barry Gray departing the Club.
Former Olympic chief Michael Press took temporary charge for the month’s concluding fixture against Glenavon when, after Ryan Curran’s fifth minute opener, Cliftonville were grateful to hold on for a point against the Lurgan Blues.
January ended with supporters nominating goalkeeper Richard Brush their Sean Graham Player of the Month as the Reds headed into a February that would begin with another new face in the dugout…
Coleraine 4-1 Cliftonville
Cliftonville 0-1 Dungannon Swifts
Cliftonville 4-1 Ards
R Curran, McMenamin, R Donnelly, Gormley
Dungannon Swifts 3-1 Cliftonville
Cliftonville 1-1 Glenavon