Cliftonville 2-1 Coleraine
Quickfire goals in the closing stages helped Cliftonville get the better of Coleraine in an absorbing Danske Bank Premiership encounter at Solitude this evening.
In a second-half temporarily delayed by floodlight failure, Joe Gormley – who had seen an earlier effort controversially ruled out for offside – converted a 79th minute header from a majestic Jamie McDonagh cross to set the Reds on their way.
McDonagh would then provide the delivery from which Bannsiders captain Stephen O’Donnell turned the ball into his own net to double the hosts’ advantage – a goal which would ultimately prove decisive following Aaron Traynor’s 88th minute consolation for Coleraine.
The first threat of the evening came with just five minutes gone when Rory Hale picked Gormley out with a ball over the top and, though he got there before goalkeeper Gareth Deane, the striker’s attempted lob lacked the necessary elevation.
Soon later came that disallowed effort which left home fans scratching their heads. McDonagh provided the cross and, while Deane repelled Gormley’s initial header and the rebound was also blocked by a defender, Ryan Curran saw an acrobatic backheel come down off the crossbar and Gormley had another thrash at it before eventually forcing the ball over the line – only for an offside flag to be raised in spite of at least two Bannsiders players being grounded on the line at the time.
Cliftonville felt they should have had a 26th minute penalty when Lyndon Kane appeared to handle Jamie Harney’s header before Matthew Shevlin sent a strike over the top at the other end.
A half-time blackout meant the second period started just over 20 minutes later than scheduled and the extended break appeared to have been to Coleraine’s benefit as they emerged with greater purpose; Conor McKendry sending a 48th minute free-kick just wide as they went in search of the breakthrough goal.
O’Donnell stopped Gormley teeing Hale up inside the box and Deane made another save from Gormley before the visitors wasted a trio of chances to take the lead; Levi Ives clearing an Eoin Bradley blast off the line, Jamie Glackin drilling wide and Shevlin shinning an effort off target from a promising position.
They would pay for those misses soon later when Gormley’s bullet header from McDonagh’s delivery put the Reds in front and things would get even better for Paddy McLaughlin’s side when O’Donnell directed a McDonagh cross into his own net.
Though Traynor pulled one back with two minutes left on the clock, Cliftonville saw the evening out with relative comfort to make it back-to-back wins at the start of the season.
Cliftonville: Dunne, Ives, Harney, C Curran, Hale, R Curran, McDonagh, Addis, Doherty, Gormley, Gallagher. Subs: D Breen, Foster (McDonagh, 82 mins), McCurry, Casey, Turner, Lowe (Hale, 86 mins), Kearns.
Match Sponsor: Gerard Lawlor
Matchball Sponsor: David Begley
Half-Gate Draw Number: 7129