Glentoran 0-2 Cliftonville
Second-half goals from Chris and Ryan Curran helped Cliftonville get the better of Glentoran at The Oval this afternoon.
Having failed to make the most of the strong breeze behind them in the opening 45 minutes, any fears that the Reds would find themselves pegged back after the break were wiped away almost instantly when skipper Chris Curran showed neat feet and a cool head to slot past Elliott Morris after some excellent work in the build-up from Michael McCrudden.
A similarly eye-catching finish from Ryan Curran doubled the advantage midway through the half when he cleverly flicked the ball over the head of Patrick McClean on the byline before finding the net.
It had taken the visitors a while to settle into any sort of rhythm and they could have been behind early on when Ruaidhri Donnelly’s back post header was expertly finger-tipped across the face of goal and behind by Richard Brush before Aaron Donnelly’s smart interception prevented his namesake former team-mate from taking advantage of a promising opening soon later.
Ronan Doherty was off target with a strike from distance at the other end before Elvio Van Overbeek was twice denied when a Glentoran breakthrough seemed imminent; first by Conor McMenamin’s timely clearance and then by another excellent Brush stop.
Cliftonville’s improvement after the interval was immediately obvious, with McCrudden’s smart hold-up play paving the way for Chris Curran to weave a path towards goal and coolly get the better of the keeper.
Brush was called upon to claim a Robbie McDaid header before the Reds made it 2-0 when Conor McDermott’s lofted free-kick looked to be heading out of play until Ryan Curran intervened to lift the ball over McClean and stroke it into the net with his left foot.
It might have been 3-0 in the final minutes when some superb work from Joe Gormley in midfield ended with a perfectly weighted pass for the lively McCrudden, whose drop of the shoulder saw him wrong-foot two defenders only to lift his attempt over the bar.
Cliftonville: Brush, McDermott, Breen (Foster, 60 mins), C Curran, R Curran, McCrudden (Rocks, 87 mins), Bagnall, Doherty, Gormley (Casey, 90 mins), McMenamin, Donnelly. Unused subs: Dunne, Wilson, Maguire, McCurry.