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An Ard watch

Regular readers of our Matchday Magazine will know all the facts and figures behind each new week at Cliftonville Football Club, while our Twitter followers are regaled with daily delves into the archives – and today provides yet another significant anniversary.

For today marks 26 years since Cliftonville played their first ever Premier League fixture.

The opening weekend of the Irish League’s newly-formed top flight saw the Reds welcome Ards to Solitude on September 30, 1995 for what proved, in truth, to be an appalling game of football.

A contemporary report from the 0-0 draw suggests that “if this was a bright new dawn for the Irish League, someone forgot to tell Cliftonville and Ards”, as well as noting that, so dull was the fare on offer, BBC Radio Ulster’s commentary team resorted to describing the altogether more entertaining spectacle provided by the swans in the waterworks’ top pond.

The Reds’ best opportunity of the first-half came when visiting goalkeeper Paul Kee almost made a mess of catching a Mark O’Neill corner, while Ards threatened through half-chances for Paul McBride and Pat Flannery.

Cliftonville were much the better team after the break but, aside from two long-range Gary Sliney blasts sailing wide, rarely looked like breaking the deadlock on a dour afternoon.

Cliftonville: Rice, Hill, Flynn, Tabb, Kerr, Strang, McCann, Sliney, Feehan, McDonald, O’Neill. Subs: Manley, Coleman, McChrystal.