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Dressed to the nines

Cliftonville 9-0 Knockbreda

Paul O’Neill scored a hat-trick in his first start of the season as Cliftonville made comfortable progress to the quarter-finals of the County Antrim Shield at Knockbreda’s expense this evening.

Colin Coates and Conor Scannell also opened their Club accounts with doubles in addition to strikes from Aaron Donnelly and Daniel Kearns as a ruthless Reds performance yielded nine unanswered goals.

After an opening 10 minutes in which Kris Lowe could conceivably have registered a treble of his own, the deadlock was broken when Coates climbed highest to head Donnelly’s corner past Jonah Magill.

Despite the scoreline, the visiting keeper produced an impressive display and smartly denied Lowe, O’Neill and debut boy Scannell before the latter made it 2-0 on 31 minutes, converting Lowe’s pass before defender Andrew Long could intervene.

Four minutes before half-time, another bullet header from a Donnelly corner saw Coates double his personal tally ahead of O’Neill making it 4-0 when he followed up after Kearns had seen one effort hit the post and another blocked on the line.

O’Neill’s header from a Lowe cross started the second-half’s goalfest and the striker completed his hat-trick when he converted Scannell’s delivery from close range.

Donnelly then raced through to produce a cool finish for 7-0 before another Scannell assist allowed Kearns to thunder home.

Kearns, Lowe and Scannell all went close to adding number nine – and home fans were somewhat shocked not to see referee Tony Clarke point to the penalty spot when Lowe appeared to be tripped inside the box – ahead of the night’s scoring finally being completed when Scannell bagged his second right on 90 minutes.

Cliftonville: McNicholas, O’Neill, Foster, Lowe, Donnelly, Doherty (C Curran, 57 mins), Casey, Turner, Coates, Scannell, Kearns. Unused subs: Dunne, Ives, R Curran, McDonagh, Addis, Gormley.

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