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Cliftonville 3-1 Rathfriland Rangers

Cliftonville made safe progress to the Quarter Finals of the Sadler’s Peaky Blinder Irish Cup with a 3-1 victory over Rathfriland Rangers this afternoon.

Ahead through Jamie Harney, the Reds were pegged back when Stephen Hughes drew the Amateur League outfit level just past the hour-mark only for Ryan Curran to restore the hosts’ advantage minutes later.

After a number of promising openings to wrap things up came to nought, an injury-time strike from Joe Gormley made absolutely sure of success for the home team.

Gormley and Levi Ives had each produced deliveries that nobody in a Red shirt was able to get on the end of during the opening exchanges but the duo did combine to create the opener when, from a short corner, Ives swapped passes with Gormley before sending in the cross from which Harney found the net.

Rangers keeper Jonny Parr did well to stop Gormley making it 2-0 soon later, while former Cliftonville striker Peter Telford’s foul on Gormley inside the box was somehow deemed fair by referee Steven Gregg.

In a rare foray forward, the visitors called Declan Dunne into action courtesy of Thomas Lockhart’s low drive before Parr’s excellent reaction stop prevented team-mate Daryl Evans turning a Conor McDermott cross into his own net.

Early in the second-half, Gormley was just off target before sub Conor McMenamin was kept out by Parr and then had a goal disallowed when Harney was deemed to be offside from Ronan Doherty’s free-kick delivery.

Michael McCrudden should have banked his first goal for the Club on the hour only to skew wide from a good position and, within minutes, Rathfriland had stunned Solitude by pulling level when Hughes scrambled home after Dunne had repelled his initial strike.

Any fears of an Irish Cup upset were, however, dispelled almost immediately when Curran linked up with McCrudden and Gormley before confidently stroking beyond Parr.

Ives was then twice off target with efforts that could have made it 3-1 before a poorly weighted McMenamin pass stopped Gormley getting his name on the scoresheet, but the striker was not to be denied and duly had the afternoon’s final say with a well-taken finish that, despite getting a foot on, Parr could do little to stop.

Cliftonville: Dunne, McDermott, Ives, Harney, R Curran, McCrudden, Bagnall, Doherty, Gormley, Maguire (McMenamin, 30 mins), Donnelly. Unused subs: Brush, C Curran, Foster, Rocks, McCurry, McKiernan.

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