Cliftonville 3-2 Ards
Jamie McDonagh was among the scorers as Cliftonville came out on top in an entertaining friendly with Ards at Solitude this evening.
Former Reds striker Daniel Reynolds had scrambled the visitors into an early lead but fine finishes from Chris Curran and Joe Gormley turned things round before half-time, with McDonagh – whose signing was only announced 90 minutes before kick-off – extending the advantage ahead of Darius Roohi claiming a consolation.
Heavy rain throughout the day meant Solitude’s brand new synthetic pitch was particularly slick for the first fixture contested upon it and it wasn’t long before the new netting at the McAlery end welcomed its first goal; Reynolds and Levi Ives’ front-post battle ending with the ball creeping into the corner.
Cliftonville levelled in eye-catching style, however, when a headed clearance from a corner fell invitingly for the in-rushing Curran, who produced a rocketed finish from just inside the box.
Curran would then turn provider for Gormley who, after seeing referee Shane Andrews play good advantage when the home skipper was cleaned out in the process of playing his pass, dinked a delightful chip over former team-mate Brian Neeson.
Neeson would deny Gormley before the half was out, while newcomer McDonagh was unlucky with a fierce blast which whistled just wide.
He did get his name on the scoresheet early in the second-half, however, when he produced a composed finish after being teed up by Ryan Curran ahead of Neeson making another smart stop; this time to keep Conor Scannell at bay.
A raft of substitutions on both sides diluted the rhythm of the game as the rain began to pour down again but there was still time for one last goal when Roohi rolled an effort in after Ards had seized on some hesitancy in the home backline.
Cliftonville: Dunne, Foster, Ives, Addis, Doherty, C Curran, R Curran, McDonagh, Casey, Trialist, Gormley. Subs: D Breen (Dunne), Hale (Doherty), Kearns (R Curran), Lowe (Foster), Donnelly (Addis), McGuinness (Ives), Scannell (Gormley).