Crusaders 1-1 Cliftonville
Substitute Daniel Kearns pounced in injury-time to maintain Cliftonville’s unbeaten start to the season with a dramatic equaliser against Crusaders at Seaview.
A lacklustre North Belfast Derby duel had looked set to be decided by Jordan Forsythe’s well-taken strike just past the hour only for Kearns to salvage a last-gasp point when he reacted quickest after home keeper Jonny Tuffey had spilled Chris Gallagher’s low drive.
Both sides lost key players to injury during the first-half; Rory Hale limping off for the Reds following an awkward fall, while home midfielder Declan Caddell would follow after an innocuous-looking collision.
Prior to that, Crusaders’ Ben Kennedy saw an attempt deflected behind by Jamie Harney and Declan Dunne did well to deny Johnny McMurray before Cliftonville threatened through a Hale effort that scaled the bar before Joe Gormley blasted a free-kick wide.
Early in the second-half, Daniel Larmour threw himself in the path of a fierce Gormley blast just minutes ahead of McMurray teeing Paul Heatley up for a one-on-one match-up which Dunne emerged on top of.
Forsythe then looped a header on to the roof of the net but would get his angles right soon later when, after receiving possession from Larmour inside the box, he manoeuvred his feet to work some space and struck a crisp strike into the bottom corner.
The Reds’ main threat by way of response came in the form of a 76th minute Levi Ives attempt which Tuffey was able to gather while, at the other end, Dunne twice saved from Heatley.
Those interventions would prove crucial because, with the contest having ticked into injury-time, Cliftonville finally created the opening they had been looking for when Jamie McDonagh set Chris Curran scampering down the right and, though his cross evaded everyone in the box, Ives assumed possession and set Gallagher up for a shot which Tuffey was unable to hold and Kearns was perfectly placed to apply the finish and secure a point.
Cliftonville: Dunne, Ives, Harney (Turner, 86 mins), C Curran, Hale (Lowe, 23 mins), R Curran, McDonagh, Addis, Doherty (Kearns, 76 mins), Gormley, Gallagher. Unused subs: McNicholas, Foster, Donnelly, Coates.