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Hale damage

Cliftonville 2-1 Larne

Rory Hale’s deadly double maintained Cliftonville’s unbeaten start to the season as Larne were put to the sword in this afternoon’s Danske Bank Premiership clash at Solitude.

Leading through Hale’s powerful 10th minute finish, the Reds were pegged back when Davy McDaid tucked home an equaliser before an absorbing contest was settled when Hale connected with Jamie McDonagh’s inch-perfect delivery to nod the ball past goalkeeper Rohan Ferguson.

Both sides had gone close to early breakthroughs with Joe Gormley’s header forcing Ferguson into a save before Ben Doherty shot straight at Declan Dunne.

It was’t long, however, before the ball was in the net at the other end when Levi Ives’ low delivery found Ronan Doherty and, when his shot was blocked by a ricochet that sent the ball up in the air, Hale was on hand to volley home.

Albert Watson then stopped Ryan Curran capitalising on a poor kick-out by Ferguson, who was called into action to keep Kris Lowe at bay before Larne levelled when McDaid controlled a Tomas Cosgrove cross and stroked into the corner from close range.

Early in the second-half, Hale dragged an attempt wide and Lowe was again denied by Ferguson ahead of Dunne turning a Doherty curler behind.

Another goal looked inevitable and it duly came when McDonagh sent in a delivery which dropped perfectly for Hale to head into the net.

It was something of a surprise that there were no further additions to the scoreline, with the closest Larne came being a Graham Kelly effort which, under pressure from McDonagh, he was only able to volley wide.

Cliftonville: Dunne, Ives (Donnelly, 21 mins), Hale (C Curran, 66 mins), R Curran, McDonagh, Lowe (Foster, 85 mins), Addis, Doherty, Gormley (O’Neill, 85 mins), Turner, Gallagher. Unused subs: McNicholas, Harney, Kearns.