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Ladies are five alive

Cliftonville Ladies 3-0 Glentoran Women

Cliftonville Ladies pulled five points clear at the top of the Danske Bank Women’s Premiership with a convincing defeat of Glentoran Women at Solitude this evening.

The Reds – who remain the only team in the division with a perfect record this season – broke the deadlock through Toni-Leigh Finnegan’s inch-perfect free-kick early in the second-half.

Kirsty McGuinness made it 2-0 just past the hour and sister Caitlin extended Cliftonville’s advantage soon later.

The Glens were offered some hope of a late consolation when Jessica Foy was fouled by goalkeeper Rachael Norney, who picked herself up to touch Foy’s subsequent penalty kick on to the crossbar to ensure the latest clean sheet of an impressive campaign.

In a promising opening, the Reds threatened through Louise McDaniel and Danielle Maxwell before Fi Morgan saw a header repelled by visiting goalkeeper Emma Higgins.

Grace McKimm was next to test Higgins, who also did well to deny Maxwell space as he attempted to seize upon a pass into the area.

Just before the half-hour, McDaniels nodded Casey Howe’s corner delivery off the line as Glentoran started to build momentum, while Norney was grateful to gather a Nadene Caldwell header before Lauren Wade’s corner clipped the outside of the post.

Despite finding themselves under pressure in the closing stages of the first-half, it was Cliftonville who grabbed the game by the scrub of the neck in the second period, opening the scoring through Finnegan’s free-kick.

Norney then gathered attempts from Foy, Kelly Bailie and Wade as the Glens went in search of a leveller, but it was the Reds who came closest to claiming the next goal when a Caitlin McGuinness chip drifted just wide.

Joely Andrews was next to be kept at bay by the impressive Norney and that save would prove crucial because, within minutes, the home side were 2-0 up; Kirsty McGuinness racing on to a ball over the top and confidently slotting in.

Cliftonville took a similar route to goal for the third, the younger McGuinness sibling this time doing the damage.

With nine minutes left, a spot kick provided Glentoran with an avenue back into the contest only for Norney to deny Foy before Cora Morgan planted her rebound wide.

Cliftonville: Norney, White, Moran, Morgan, Finnegan, Maxwell, McDaniel, C McGuinness, K McGuinness, McKimm, McHenry. Unused subs: Welsh, Montgomery, Reilly, Irvine, Mailey, Wilton, Campbell.