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Stuck in the middle

Cliftonville Under 16s’ season was suspended with the Wee Reds occupying a mid-table position in the U16 Academy League.

Our mini series highlighting the trials and tribulations of the Club’s various underage sides – who, like all teams operating under the auspices of the Irish FA, are currently playing the waiting game for their comeback to action amid the protective measures being taken against the spread of the Covid-19 virus – today focuses on the players operating directly below the Strollers in the Academy at Solitude.

The Under 16s’ League programme started with a 2-2 draw against Linfield in early September ahead of a 1-0 win over Warrenpoint Town.

Their first loss – a 2-1 reverse at the hands of Institute – was followed by a similar setback when they faced Glentoran before getting back on track with consecutive victories over Ballinamallard United and Carrick Rangers, only for November to begin with heavy losses to Dungannon Swifts and Newry City.

A home draw with Glenavon steadied the ship before a goal-crazy build-up to Christmas delivered a 5-0 win over Ballymena United and 5-1 triumph against Crusaders either side of a 5-1 beating by Coleraine.

The New Year would commence with a hard-fought 3-2 success at Warrenpoint ahead of an identical outcome in Dungannon and, though Glenavon would inflict a 1-0 defeat at the start of February, Cliftonville bounced back courtesy of a 4-0 win over Carrick.

After drawing with the Crues in last month’s North Belfast Derby, the Reds slipped to a 5-2 loss against Newry in what would prove their final outing prior to football’s temporary hiatus, leaving them sixth in the 13-team table with 27 points from the 18 fixtures they have contested to date.

While making up the 23 point gap that separates them from leaders Coleraine looks something of a tall order at this juncture, January’s 1-0 win over the Bannsiders did send Cliftonville through to the Semi Finals of the Under 16 League Cup – another competition that has been put on hold but about which you will be able to keep up to date at this link, while bookmarking our regular Academy updates here.