Carrick Rangers 0-1 Cliftonville
Chris Curran struck the only goal of the game as Cliftonville’s patience was rewarded with three hard-earned points against Carrick Rangers at the Loughshore Hotel Arena.
Joe Gormley and Ruaidhri Donnelly had gone closest to breaking the deadlock during a tame first-half, but the Reds were rewarded for increasing their intensity after the interval when Curran touched home from close range at the end of a quickfire breakaway.
Cliftonville, who had earlier seen a fierce Levi Ives goal ruled out for offside, threatened to increase their lead through Ryan Curran and Conor McMenamin but were in the end content to settle for the single goal required for victory.
It took a while for the game to spark into life. Gormley had perhaps the first effort of note midway through the first half when his near post shot from a narrow angle was pushed behind by Aaron Hogg while, for Carrick, James Ferrin headed over from a Reece Neale cross.
Donnelly then had a chance when his low shot was well held by Hogg before, a little later, he teed Gormley up but Hogg again made the save.
Levi Ives had the ball in the net for Cliftonville early in the second half but his strike was ruled out for an apparent offside decision against Gormley, however the deadlock was eventually broken on 61 minutes when, following a smart counter attack from a home corner, Ryan Curran squared the ball to Chris Curran who made no mistake.
Looking to extend their lead, the Reds pushed forward with Gormley firing over from the edge of the box while Ryan Curran delivered a 25-yard drive straight at the home keeper.
Ferrin tested Richard Brush with just over a quarter-of-an-hour to go with a low shot from a free-kick as the Reds held on for three deserved points.
Cliftonville: Brush, McDermott, Ives, Breen, Harney, C. Curran, R. Curran, R. Donnelly, Bagnall, Doherty, Gormley. Subs: Dunne, Foster, Wilson (Bagnall, 81 mins), Maguire, McMenamin (R Donnelly, 66 mins), A Donnelly, Gorman (Gormley, 87 mins).