Cliftonville 2-0 Carrick Rangers
Cliftonville made it a perfect 10 home wins out of 10 in the Danske Bank Premiership with a 2-0 victory over Carrick Rangers this afternoon.
Paul O’Neill’s inch-perfect finish set the Reds on their way ahead of an acrobatic Ryan Curran strike doubling the hosts’ advantage as Paddy McLaughlin’s side entered the Christmas period without having dropped a single League point at Solitude this season.
A sharp start was rewarded when the deadlock was broken after just 17 minutes; Ives playing O’Neill in behind and the striker gave goalkeeper Matthew Skeet no chance with a perfectly-executed lob that dropped into the net.
Joe Gormley headed wide at the end of a patient passing move, while a similar sequence ended with the striker being denied by Skeet as he attempted to seize on a Chris Curran throughball.
It was 2-0 just before the interval when, again, Cliftonville passed and probed their way up the pitch before powering through the gears in the final third as Jamie McDonagh dinked a ball over the top for Conor McDermott, whose delivery into the area was met with an emphatic volley from Ryan Curran.
There was still time for Lloyd Anderson to clear an O’Neill attempt off the line and for Gormley to nod wide before half-time, after which a Luke Turner cross almost ended with O’Neill converting at the near post.
Gormley did well to engineer some space for himself only to thunder into the side netting and O’Neill saw a free-kick easily gathered by Skeet before another Turner delivery caused chaos in the middle, where neither McDonagh nor Daniel Kearns were able to get a decisive touch.
Carrick should have pulled one back when Kyle Cherry’s pass put Ewan Kelly in the clear but, possibly caught in two minds about whether to take a touch or get a first-time shot away, he ultimately did neither and Luke McNicholas was quickly out to eradicate the danger.
Cliftonville: McNicholas, McDermott (Doherty, 75 mins), Ives, C Curran, R Curran, O’Neill, McDonagh (Hale, 90 mins), Lowe (Donnelly, 86 mins), Addis, Gormley (Kearns, 75 mins), Turner. Unused subs: Dunne, Harney, Coates.