As football seasons across Europe close in on their traditional May 31 cut-off points, cliftonvillefc.net continues a new weekly mini-series reflecting on the good, the bad and the in-betweens of last term.
Every Monday between now and the new campaign getting under way, we’re taking a chronological look back on a month from the the year just finished – with an almost perfect September taking centre stage today.
Having commenced the new Danske Bank Premiership programme with home wins over Carrick Rangers and Coleraine, it was with a certain degree of confidence that Cliftonville approached their Solitude mission with Glentoran. And with good reason, it turned out, with Ryan Curran’s second-half strike (above) securing another maximum return for Paddy McLaughlin’s side.
A week later, however, the Reds dropped their first points of the season in a disappointing North Belfast Derby display against Crusaders at Seaview.
Trailing to Jordan Forsythe’s well-taken strike, the visitors hit back to level in injury-time when Daniel Kearns (below) pounced to convert after Crues goalkeeper Jonny Tuffey had failed to keep hold of a Cricky Gallagher effort.
Curran and Levi Ives both found the target as Cliftonville’s run to League Cup glory kicked off with a 2-0 victory over Harland & Wolff Welders in the second round, while Curran completed the scoring after Joe Gormley’s double had put the Reds on course for a Premiership win against Dungannon Swifts at Stangmore Park.
The team’s biggest win of the season followed a few days later when nine unanswered goals were scored against Knockbreda in the opening round of the County Antrim Shield.
Paul O’Neill (above) struck a hat-trick in addition to doubles from Colin Coates and Conor Scannell on a night that also saw Aaron Donnelly and Kearns on the scoresheet.
Cliftonville’s next encounter was a considerably tighter affair and they found themselves frustrated for long spells by a resolute defensive showing from Warrenpoint Town, whose resolve was eventually broken by a Curran header (below) as the Reds made it 16 points from the first 18 available to them in the League.
Supporters voted Jonny Addis the season’s first Player of the Month as McLaughlin’s charges looked ahead to kicking October off in a Friday night showdown with Linfield at Windsor Park.
Cliftonville 1-0 Glentoran
Crusaders 1-1 Cliftonville
Cliftonville 2-0 H&W Welders
R Curran, Ives
Dungannon Swifts 1-3 Cliftonville
Gormley , R Curran
Cliftonville 9-0 Knockbreda
Coates , Scannell , O’Neill , Donnelly, Kearns
Cliftonville 1-0 Warrenpoint Town