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Wait of numbers

Regular readers of our Matchday Magazine will know all the facts and figures behind each new week at Cliftonville Football Club, while our Twitter followers are regaled with daily delves into the archives and Saturday’s 298th encounter with Crusaders provided a number of notable milestones in the fixture’s history.

For, as well as being the Reds’ first home draw of the season, it was also the first time that a North Belfast Derby had finished in stalemate at Solitude since the 2014 League Cup Final – when the Reds triumphed on penalties after neither side had been able to find the net in 120 minutes of action.

Indeed, not since April 14, 2012 have Cliftonville and the Crues shared the points in a Premiership clash in BT14 – George McMullan’s penalty cancelled out by a late Michael Halliday leveller on that occasion – with the outcome seeing Paddy McLaughlin’s home record against Crusaders amended to one win, one draw and one defeat in three games, with four goals scored and the same number conceded.

This weekend’s joust also saw Rory Hale become the first player to find the net against their former Club in the Derby since Martin Donnelly was on target in a 2-1 win for the Reds in October 2011, while Aaron McCarey was the first Cliftonville goalkeeper to make his debut against the Shore Road outfit since Paul McKane’s bow in a 2-0 win at Seaview in December 2004.

Though the game cannot officially carry the St Stephen’s Day Derby tag due to being staged a fortnight later than originally scheduled, it would nevertheless have been the first festive battle to finish level since 2015 (a clash which also ended 2-2) and maintained the Crues’ run of having scored first in every yuletide affair since 2013 – which was also the last occasion in which they equalised in injury-time.

North Belfast Derby in numbers
298: Number of times Cliftonville have faced Crusaders in a competitive fixture
37: Reds number 37, Aaron McCarey, became the first goalkeeper to make his debut against the Crues since Paul McKane in 2004
When he scored on Saturday, Rory Hale bridged a near 10-year gap to the last player to net against their former Club in the Derby
9: Years since Cliftonville and Crusaders drew a Premiership game at Solitude
7: Years since the Reds scored the first goal in a ‘festive’ derby
3: Paddy McLaughlin has overseen one win, one draw and one defeat in three home North Belfast Derbies
2: The last ‘festive’ derby to finish level, back in December 2015, also ended 2-2
1: Saturday’s game was Cliftonville’s first home draw of the 2020/21 season