Moyola Park 1-3 Cliftonville
Chris Curran struck his second goal in as many games to set Cliftonville on the path to safe negotiation of this evening’s League Cup Second Round tie with Moyola Park.
Though the Premier Intermediate League side drew themselves level right at the end of the first-half, a dominant Reds would go on to net through Joe Gormley and Conor McMenamin and ensure comfortable progression to the next round.
The scoring was almost opened in the first minute when a misjudged header from goalkeeper Dwayne Nelson almost allowed Thomas Maguire to seize on the loose ball, only for the home custodian to recover in scrambling back to concede a corner.
Nelson then got down well to save from Curran and McMenamin, with Gormley twice unfortunate with efforts from inside the box as Cliftonville poured forward at will.
The breakthrough came in eye-catching style when Curran rifled into the bottom corner at the end of a patient passing move that involved most members of the team; starting off deep down the right flank, working backwards into midfield, across the defence, back into the centre of the park and out left before finally being touched inside for the skipper to finish.
McMenamin would try his luck from distance and Maguire also got a couple of shots away before a series of smart one-touch build-ups were shut down with some last-ditch defending in the Moyola box.
The Reds were shocked right on the interval when, in a rare break forward, the hosts levelled matters courtesy of a smart finish from Daniel McIlhatton, whose delicate touch on a high ball into the area found the bottom corner.
Buoyed by that strike, the Castledawson side began the second period with a spring in their step and a higher defensive line that frustrated the Reds’ attempts to play intricate football in dangerous areas.
Even so, Gormley and McMenamin each saw good chances come and go before the visitors edged back in front when a fierce Gormley free-kick took a deflection en route past a wrong-footed Nelson.
Almost straight from kick-off, McMenamin went close to threading Gormley through on goal again only for a timely intervention from a home defender to thwart the attack.
As confident as the Reds looked of making progress to the next round, a third goal was always going to be crucial in fully diluting the home team’s threat and it duly came from the left boot of McMenamin after some fine wing play from none other than Garry Breen, who did well to work himself into a shooting position before unselfishly setting his team-mate up for a cool finish.
Cliftonville: Dunne, Breen, Harney, C Curran, Foster, Bagnall, Doherty, Gormley, Maguire, McMenamin, A Donnelly. Subs: Brush, Ives, R Curran (for Maguire), R Donnelly (for McMenamin), Wilson (for Doherty), Rocks, Gorman.