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Monday monthly: April

A day before Cliftonville’s final pre-season friendly ahead of the 2021/22 campaign, continues a weekly mini-series reflecting on the good, the bad and the in-betweens of last term.

Every Monday until the new Danske Bank Premiership programme kicks off, we’re taking a chronological look back on a month from 2020/21 – with a goal-crazy April in the spotlight today.

Things started positively when Michael McCrudden curled home a delightful opener to set the Reds on course to a 5-0 victory over Warrenpoint Town at Milltown.

Ryan Curran’s penalty doubled he visitors’ advantage and, after McCrudden struck either side of half-time to seal his hat-trick, Daire O’Connor completed the scoring with an inch-perfect lob.

A few days later, McCrudden added another double to his tally alongside Ryan O’Reilly’s first goal for the Club as Dungannon Swifts were overcome 3-0 at Solitude before Cliftonville suffered familiar North Belfast Derby frustration when – for neither the first nor last time during the season – they were denied a deserved victory by a late Crusaders equaliser.

Jordan Forsythe had the hosts ahead at the interval only for Curran and McCrudden to turn the tie around ahead of Philip Lowry rescuing a point for the Crues in the closing minutes.

The Reds responded to that by claiming a vital win at Portadown the following weekend; Curran netting twice during a dominant display that secured a top-six finish in the Danske Bank Premiership.

Though Glentoran claimed full points at Solitude in the subsequent midweek outing, Cliftonville delivered a five-star display to sink Carrick Rangers in their final League outing of the month.

McCrudden banked a first-half hat-trick in addition to Garry Breen nodding home from close range before a superb Barry Coffey blast completed the scoring after the break.

April concluded with the long-delayed opening round of the Sadler’s Peaky Blinder Irish Cup; Breen making it two goals in as many games to set the Reds on course to overcome Portstewart.

O’Connor found the net either side of the Premier Intermediate League side pulling one back, with Daniel Kearns and Curran adding their names to the scoresheet in the closing stages.

April ended with supporters voting McCrudden their Sean Graham Player of the Month as Cliftonville geared up for vital post-split action throughout May…

April 2021
Warrenpoint Town 0-5 Cliftonville
McCrudden [3], R Curran, O’Connor

Cliftonville 3-0 Dungannon Swifts
McCrudden [2], O’Reilly

Crusaders 2-2 Cliftonville
R Curran, McCrudden

Portadown 1-2 Cliftonville
R Curran

Cliftonville 0-2 Glentoran

Cliftonville 5-0 Carrick Rangers
McCrudden [3], Breen, Coffey

Cliftonville 5-1 Portstewart
Breen, O’Connor [2], Kearns, R Curran