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Saturday Stepback: 1992

As the wait for the commencement of the 2020/21 season goes on, we are continuing to fill the void left by Cliftonville-free Saturdays with the latest chapter of our weekly series transporting us back to a game played on this day in yesteryear.

Thanks to the help of the Club’s Heritage Development Officer, Paul Treanor, every Saturday until we’re able to welcome our fans back, will revisit a match from the past via the medium of contemporary reports – with today’s spotlight falling on a friendly with Drumaness Mills in 1992.

Staged to mark the opening of the host side’s Meadowvale Park facilities, the Reds were certainly given a run for their money in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

Battling Mills not disgraced

Drumaness entertained Irish League side Cliftonville for their curtain-raiser at Meadowvale Park and although the Mills did not have a perfect ending to their memorable day, they gave a good account of themselves, going down 2-1.

Drumaness tried hard throughout the 90 minutes and, apart from a 20 minute period midway through the first half, they matched their illustrious opponents – stride for stride.

Indeed, a Noel Hanna effort brought out the best in Paul Rice in the Reds goal and, had the keeper not saved, things may have been different.

Cliftonville were stung into action and after the ‘scare’, they stepped up the pace and had Drumaness chasing the game.

Their opener came in the 20th minute when the Mills lost possession and a quick break ended with Tim McCann firing home from 10 yards.

Cliftonville deservedly increased the lead just before half-time when a delicate free-kick by Kieran Loughran beat Healy in the Mills goal.

But the second half saw a spirited fightback by the locals. Aided by the breeze, Drumaness created a great chance to pull one back when Peter Withnell released Gary Hunter but his shot went well wide.

Paul McDowell forced another save out of Rice when he controlled and shot a Gelston free-kick.

At the other end, Tim McCann wasn’t proving the handful he was in the first half and little was seen of the Reds’ attack. And the game got what most of the spectators wanted to see – a Mills goal on their superb pitch.

It came in the 75th minute, albeit from the spot after Jim McFadden had pushed big Withnell. Up stepped Andy McMenamin and sent Rice the wrong way.

Although defeated, Drumaness showed that they can produce excellent football on the new pitch.