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Cliftonville 5-0 Ballyclare Comrades

Cliftonville completed their home obligations in pre-season with a five-star display against Ballyclare Comrades this evening.

In the first of a double-header of weekend fixtures that concludes with Tony Kane’s Testimonial at Ballymena United tomorrow, goals from Levi Ives, Ronan Doherty, Joe Gormley (2) and Odhrán Casey earned victory over a Ballyclare side with no shortage of Reds connections including Reds loanees Declan Breen and Calvin McCurry, former players Conall McGrandles and Joe Tully, boss Stephen Small and defender Caoimhan McGuinness – brother of Ladies strike pair Kirsty and Caitlin.

Despite a bright start from the hosts, it was the Championship side who grew into the game as the first-half unfolded and they would have taken the lead through McCurry but for smart reactions from Ruadhán McKenna who, having made the initial save, recovered in time to ensure the ball would not drop below the crossbar.

Opposite number Breen did well to turn a Ronan Hale blast into the side netting, while Rory Hale, Jamie McDonagh and Joe Gormley all threatened an opener.

The breakthrough finally came in the closing minutes of the half when Ronan Hale did well to pick out Ives, who converted from close range.

Cliftonville upped the ante after the break and doubled their advantage when an incisive drive forward saw Chris Curran pick out Doherty with a composed pass and the midfielder, unable to get away the first-time shot he had intended, showed neat feet to reset himself and casually stroke the ball into the bottom corner.

Within a minute, Gormley had touched home from another Curran delivery and suddenly the Reds were in full control of proceedings.

Breen made another excellent stop after Ronan Hale bought himself space inside the area but the keeper was helpless to prevent his parent Club going 4-0 up when, with his first touch, substitute Sean Moore drilled in a cross that was missed by a defender and Casey was on hand to finish off.

As had been the case earlier, it didn’t take Gormley long to increase Cliftonville’s advantage and he did so with the goal of the night – a blistering half-volley that roared into the top corner after he had raced in behind the Comrades backline.

Cliftonville: McKenna, Ives (McGuinness), Addis (Robinson), Gallagher (Storey), Rory Hale (R Curran), McDonagh (Moore), Lowe (C Curran), Doherty (Casey), Gormley (Morgan), Turner (Coates), Ronan Hale (Foster). Unused subs: Talley, Mallon.