Cliftonville 0-2 Crusaders
Cliftonville fell to North Belfast Derby defeat on a disappointing night at a snowy Solitude.
Despite enjoying the better of the play in the first-half, the Reds fell behind when Paul Heatley blasted Crusaders in front just before the interval, with Ben Kennedy’s header securing the points for the visitors after the turnaround to bring an end to Cliftonville’s perfect home record in this Danske Bank Premiership campaign.
Things might have been different had the hosts been able to convert either of the chances that came their way just past the quarter-hour, with Ryan Curran heading over from Levi Ives’ corner before Curran and Paul O’Neill appeared to get in each other’s way as they attempted to get on the end of Jamie McDonagh’s cross.
After being dealt a blow when Rory Hale was forced off through injury, the Reds’ best opening of the first-half came on 34 minutes when O’Neill got a touch on Billy Joe Burns’ attempted backpass and, with goalkeeper Jonny Tuffey reluctant to clear the danger, O’Neill was able to seize upon the loose ball only for the keeper to save.
Having offered little forward threat, Crusaders duly scored with their first real attack.
With the snow by now falling heavily, Ben Kennedy did well to deliver a cross after seeing his own initial effort blocked by Jonny Addis and, though Declan Caddell looked certain to convert at the back post, he instead teed up Heatley who made no mistake.
Addis and Luke Turner sent headers over the top early in the second-half before the Crues doubled their advantage in curious circumstances as Kennedy nodded in after Luke McNicholas had been unable to hold Ross Clarke’s ball from the right.
It took until the final 10 minutes for Cliftonville to force any kind of serious response but Tuffey was equal to quickfire efforts from Addis and Ronan Doherty while, deep in injury-time, Daniel Kearns saw a goalbound strike deflected behind by Adam Lecky before the night ended with Addis heading against the bar from an Ives corner.
Cliftonville: McNicholas, Ives, C Curran (Kearns, 58 mins), Hale (McDermott, 23 mins), R Curran, O’Neill (Gormley, 58 mins), McDonagh, Lowe, Addis, Doherty, Turner. Unused subs: Dunne, G Breen, Donnelly, Coates.