Cliftonville 0-2 Crusaders
Cliftonville slumped to a disappointing North Belfast Derby defeat to Crusaders this afternoon.
After an evenly-matched first-half, the Crues broke the deadlock in controversial circumstances shortly after the turnaround when, after Richard Brush had made two fine saves in a manic goalmouth scramble, Jordan Owens leant an arm across the keeper’s face while heading home from close range.
The Reds were unable to take advantage of a similar incident minutes later, with Paul Heatley’s 73rd minute strike sealing things for the visitors.
Having found themselves under some early pressure, Cliftonville grew to enjoy greater spells of possession in a first-half that saw both sides carve out just a single opening apiece.
Firstly, Owens’ flicked header called Brush into action down low at his near post before, at the other end, Ruaidhri Donnelly flashed a fierce left-footed strike curling over the top.
Crusaders were fortunate not to be reduced to 10 men when, following a corner kick, Colin Coates hit out at Conor McDermott, with referee Steven Gregg seeing fit to only flash a yellow card in the Seaview skipper’s direction.
Two minutes after the turnaround, the visitors took the lead when Owens rose to nod past Brush – who had denied the striker and Ross Clarke with point-blank stops in the preceding seconds – with referee Steven Gregg and his assistant deaf to any claims of a foul on the keeper.
Soon later, the Reds came close to levelling when some fine work from McDermott teed up Ryan Curran, who saw two efforts charged down before Joe Gormley smashed his follow-up wide of the mark.
With Crusaders content to let their hosts keep the ball in their own half, Cliftonville were repeatedly frustrated in their efforts to create goalscoring opportunities with a series of crosses and hopeful knocks forward coming to naught.
The Crues duly wrapped their win up with just over a quarter of an hour remaining when Rory Hale put Heatley in the clear and he made no finish with a strike into the bottom corner.
Cliftonville: Brush, McDermott, Ives, Breen, Harkin, R Curran, R Donnelly, Bagnall, Doherty, Gormley, Gorman. Subs: Dunne, C Curran (Harkin, 55 mins), Foster, Wilson, Maguire (Bagnall, 74 mins), A Donnelly, Rocks.
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Half Gate Draw: 110110