As the wait for details of the 2020/21 Irish League schedule continues, cliftonvillefc.net kicks off a new weekly mini-series reflecting on the good, the bad and the in-betweens of the term just finished.
Every Monday, we’ll take a chronological look back on a new month from the campaign – with August’s commencement of the Danske Bank Premiership programme taking centre stage today.
Having completed their European commitments with defeat to Haugesund following a commanding victory over Barry Town United, the Reds’ preparations for the new domestic season were engulfed in tragedy when news of Tommy Breslin’s sudden death was announced.
Tributes were paid to the most successful Manager in the Club’s history ahead of kick-off in both of the team’s opening two games – a 1-1 draw with Coleraine that saw Joe Gormley dedicate his last-gasp Showgrounds equaliser to his former boss and a 3-1 home win over Glenavon when the Reds played with a dominant panache that would have made Breslin proud.
Cliftonville were, unfortunately, unable to replicate that performance when Crusaders visited Solitude for the first North Belfast Derby of the season a few days later when a controversial opening goal set the away side on course for a 2-0 victory.
The Reds responded well to that setback, however, and were rewarded when a Chris Curran goal proved sufficient to earn all three points against Carrick Rangers at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena before the first Cup fixture of the season saw Moyola Park dispatched from the League Cup thanks to finishes from Curran, Gormley and Conor McMenamin.
The month’s final fixture saw Cliftonville comfortably negotiate an historically tricky assignment against Warrenpoint Town at Milltown, where a wonderful Liam Bagnall strike (main image) was the pick of a five-goal haul which also carried contributions from Ruaidhri Donnelly (2), McMenamin and Gormley.
August ended with supporters nominating Bagnall – who produced a string of tireless displays in addition to his unlikely goal heroics – 2019/20’s first Sean Graham Player of the Month as Cliftonville looked ahead to a Solitude showdown with Linfield in September’s opening week…
Coleraine 1-1 Glentoran
Cliftonville 3-1 Glenavon
Gormley , R Curran
Cliftonville 0-2 Crusaders
Carrick Rangers 0-1 Cliftonville
Moyola Park 1-3 Cliftonville
C Curran, Gormley, McMenamin
Warrenpoint Town 1-5 Cliftonville
R Donnelly , McMenamin, Bagnall, Gormley