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Early Derrs

Cliftonville 1-2 Derry City

Cliftonville fell to a 2-1 reverse at the hands of Derry City in their opening friendly of the 2022/23 season.

Trailing when Matty Smith converted the rebound after a Will Patching free-kick had taken a nick off both goalkeeper Declan Breen and a post, the Reds drew level through Ronan Hale, who seized upon Gerard Storey’s forward ball and skipped round Nathan Gartside before stroking home.

James Akintunde restored the Candystripes’ lead early in the second period, after which the Reds – who made a raft of substitutions as the game progressed – dominated proceedings without being able to provide a final telling touch in their search for an equaliser.

The first real threat of note came from a Brandon Kavanagh strike that Breen did well to turn round the post after the ball took an awkward bounce in front of him before the City midfielder was undone by a timely gust of wind that appeared to shift possession out of his feet just as he was preparing to get his shot away.

At the other end, Cricky Gallagher and Jamie McDonagh sent efforts off target before the visitors pulled ahead when Smith reacted quickly to Patching’s free-kick coming back off the upright.

Akintunde was denied a chance to make it 2-0 thanks to a sliding challenge from Cliftonville’s trialist before the Reds restored parity when Hale raced through.

Early in the second-half, Joe Gormley sent quickfire attempts over the top and wide ahead of Akintunde  scoring what turned out to be the winner with a deft finish on 56 minutes.

Thereafter, the Reds poured forward in search of another equaliser but saw Seanna Foster blaze over from close range before Calvin McCurry’s volley was deflected behind for a corner.

McCurry was then unable to get on the end of a wicked Foster cross, with Hale dragging wide ahead of substitute Stephen McGuinness denying Derry a third goal with a clearance off the line.

Michael Morgan sent a delivery across the face of goal and Odhran Casey’s header was blocked before the contest ended with Hale blazing high and wide with the last kick of the game.

Cliftonville: Breen Ives, Addis, Trialist, Gallagher, Ronan Hale, McDonagh, Foster, Gormley, Storey, Doherty. Subs: McKenna (Breen, 46 mins), Kelly (Foster, 80 mins), C Curran (Storey, 46 mins), Casey (Gallagher, 66 mins), Coates (Addis, 46 mins), McCurry (Gormley, 68 mins), McGuinness (Trialist, 68 mins), Morgan (McDonagh, 80 mins), Moore (Ives, 80 mins).