Warrenpoint Town 0-5 Cliftonville
Michael McCrudden claimed a hat-trick as Cliftonville produced a five-star performance against Warrenpoint Town to earn their biggest away win of the season.
McCrudden netted either side of a Ryan Curran penalty in the first-half and sealed his treble just past the hour ahead of Daire O’Connor getting the goal his display deserved to put the seal on a 5-0 victory at Milltown.
The Reds got off to the perfect start when McCrudden showed neat feet inside the area before dispatching a curling strike into the far corner that gave goalkeeper Andy Coleman no chance.
It was 2-0 on 13 minutes when Danny Wallace’s foul on Chris Curran earned a penalty that namesake Ryan stepped up to convert before Rory Hale sent an attenpt wide from the edge of the box.
Aaron McCarey’s intervention prevented Ryan Swan from reducing the deficit on 35 minutes ahead of Cliftonville going close to a third when McCrudden found O’Connor in the area but, after his first shot was charged down, his second attempt beat Coleman only for Wallace to walk it off the line.
The Reds did extend their advantage on the stroke of half-time when a surging run from O’Connor ended with him whipping in a cross that McCrudden was only too pleased to apply the finish to from close range.
After O’Connor and McCrudden had tried their luck in the opening stages of the second period, Cliftonville’s fourth goal arrived when McCrudden got on the end of Hale’s low delivery to touch the ball beyond Coleman and complete his second hat-trick of the season.
Soon later, it was five. Hale was again the architect; his raking diagonal ball setting O’Connor on the chase and he executed his lob over the advancing Coleman to perfection.
McCarey made a smart save from Brandon Doyle’s free-kick to preserve his clean sheet before Colm Deasy shot wide, with Warrenpoint denied a last-gasp consolation when substitute Alan O’Sullivan saw three stabs at the ball inside the area amount to nothing as McCarey grasped possession amid a goalmouth scramble.
Cliftonville: McCarey, Lowe, Donnelly, O’Reilly, Harney (G Breen, 64 mins), Bagnall (Coffey, 64 mins), C Curran, Hale, O’Connor, R Curran, McCrudden (Casey, 67 mins). Unused subs: D Breen, O’Brien, Teggart, McGuinness.