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Monday monthly: December

With less than a week until Cliftonville’s first pre-season friendly of the 2021/22 campaign, continues a new weekly mini-series reflecting on the good, the bad and the in-betweens of last term.

Every Monday between now and the new Danske Bank Premiership programme kicking off, we’re taking a chronological look back on a month from 2020/21 – with a best-forgotten December in the spotlight today.

The action began at Windsor Park where, despite enjoying a bright opening 45 minutes, the Reds were slow out of the traps at the start of the second-half and paid the price as Shayne Lavery and Kirk Millar struck in quick succession to earn a 2-0 win for Linfield.

Nine days later, the Sky Sports cameras were present at Mourneview Park as Cliftonville went toe-to-toe with Glenavon.

The evening looked set to be a rewarding one when Daire O’Connor (above) raced away to break the deadlock, only for Danny Purkis to level soon later and, after weathering a late storm, the Reds held on for a deserved point – their only one of the month.

Next up was a Solitude showdown with Coleraine that followed a similar path to the recent encounter with Linfield.

Cliftonville carved out the best openings of the game and were denied a deserved breakthrough when visiting goalkeeper Gareth Deane made a sensational save to claw a close-range Ryan Curran header out.

Buoyed by that reprieve, the Bannsiders duly set about sealing victory for themselves and two James McLaughlin goals – the first of which came with his first touch after being introduced from the bench – were sufficient to complete the job.

That would prove to be the final Premiership fixture to welcome spectators for five months and, thanks to the Covid-enforced postponement of the following week’s North Belfast Derby, was also the Reds’ last outing of 2020.

December 2020
Linfield 2-0 Cliftonville

Glenavon 1-1 Cliftonville

Cliftonville 0-2 Coleraine