Two days after Cliftonville’s opening friendly of the 2022/23 season, cliftonvillefc.net continues a weekly mini-series reflecting on the good, the bad and the in-betweens of last term.
Every Monday between now and the new domestic campaign getting under way, we’re taking a chronological look back on a month from the the year just finished – with a busy November taking centre stage today.
Having registered nine home wins out of nine across all competitions, the Reds duly made it a perfect 10 when they put four unanswered goals past Portadown.
An early header from Joe Gormley (above) set them on their way and, after the unfortunate Paul Finnegan registered an own goal against his former employers, Gormley struck again ahead of a Ryan Curran penalty completing the job.
A headed opener also set Cliftonville on course for victory in their next outing – but few would have predicted that Ronan Doherty (below) would be the man to produce it.
His glanced finish against Dungannon Swifts laid the platform for Gormley and Jamie McDonagh to further extend the hosts’ lead as that run of Solitude successes continued.
A few days later, the Reds’ League Cup prospects looked bleak when a dogged Portadown side assumed a quarter-final lead through Lee Bonis at Shamrock Park only for Doherty to scramble in a leveller that took the tie to extra-time, during which Daniel Kearns settled the issue.
Things appeared to be running much more smoothly the following weekend when strikes in the opening minutes from Ives and Ryan Curran gave Cliftonville a commanding lead away to Warrenpoint Town, only for the hosts to roar back to level before the interval.
The contest hung in the balance for long stretches as a nervous Red Army looked on – and their relief was palpable when Curran registered a bullet header to restore the visitors’ advantage ahead of Kearns making absolutely certain of things late on.
The team’s winning streak would, however, come to an end the following week when Linfield claimed a narrow 1-0 success at Windsor Park ahead of the Reds suffering a series of frustrations in a goalless draw at Coleraine.
An inch-perfect Ives free-kick broke the deadlock when Paddy McLaughlin’s men visited Larne for a midweek battle, only for Ronan Hale to rifle in an equaliser to ensure a share of the spoils.
Supporters voted Ives their Player of the Month as Cliftonville prepared to begin December with a vital League Cup semi-final showdown against Ballymena United.
Cliftonville 4-0 Portadown
Gormley , OG, R Curran
Cliftonville 3-0 Dungannon Swifts
Doherty, Gormley, McDonagh
Portadown 1-2 Cliftonville
Warrenpoint Town 2-4 Cliftonville
Ives, R Curran , Kearns
Linfield 1-0 Cliftonville
Coleraine 0-0 Cliftonville
Larne 1-1 Cliftonville