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Sticking point

Cliftonville 1-1 Ballymena United

Cliftonville suffered the frustration of a second consecutive Solitude stalemate as Ballymena United ground out a point in this afternoon’s Danske Bank Premiership tie.

As was the case against Dungannon Swifts a fortnight ago, the Reds found themselves behind in the first-half – Leroy Millar doing the damage for the visitors – before an inch-perfect Joe Gormley finish levelled matters.

Unlike the previous outing, however, this time Cliftonville enjoyed large spells of positive play as they went in search of a winner but, despite both Conor McMenamin and Peter McKiernan threatening, the hosts were unable to find a decisive strike.

Though Ballymena’s Jonny Addis went close with a header, it was the hosts who made the brighter start and they looked to be building up a head of steam only for United to pull ahead against the run of play when Millar won the ball in the middle of the park and exchanged passes with Adam Lecky before finding the net.

McMenamin had gone close with the Reds’ best first-half chance, while Ballymena keeper Ross Glendinning got down well to deal with a low Ryan Curran drive shortly after the turnaround.

The equaliser came in eye-catching style when Ronan Doherty’s neat flick played Michael McCrudden into space and he spread the ball wide for Chris Curran, whose cross was acrobatically half-volleyed onto the inside of the post and across the line by the alert Gormley.

An outstanding Glendinning save prevented McMenamin putting Cliftonville ahead while, just minutes later, Richard Brush had to be at his best to deal with a rasping Steven McCullough blast from distance.

As the clock ticked down, the Reds looked the most likely team to grab a winner and it almost came in the final minutes when a ball into the area was seized upon by McKiernan, only for the young substitute to unfortunately lose his balance at the key moment before the danger was cleared.

Cliftonville: Brush, McDermott, Breen, C Curran, Foster, McCrudden, Doherty, Gormley, McMenamin, Donnelly, McCurry. Subs: Dunne, R Curran (for McCurry, 55 mins), Wilson, Casey, Rocks (for Foster, 61 mins), McKiernan (for, McCrudden 85 mins), Spencer.

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