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Abbie daze

Crusaders Strikers 1-2 Cliftonville Ladies

Abbie Magee struck a late winner as Cliftonville Ladies claimed North Belfast Derby delight to maintain their 100% record in the Danske Bank Women’s Premiership.

Ahead through Kirsty McGuinness early on, the Reds were pegged back when Mairead McCann drew Crusaders Strikers level before goalkeeper Rachael Norney’s penalty save provided a platform for the League leaders to go on and win the game.

Returning to Premiership action for the first time in two months, the visitors named all six of their Euro 2022 stars in the line-up and it took just three minutes for one of them to make an impact; McGuinness lifting the ball over advancing goalkeeper Maddy Harvey-Clifford.

Marissa Callaghan sliced an effort wide and the same player was also off target with a shot she had lifted over the keeper.

A Kirsty McGuinness cross just evaded Louise McDaniel at the back post before the first-half ended with both Caitlin McGuinness and Magee seeing attempts blocked.

Harvey-Clifford then tipped a Toni-Leigh Finnegan free-kick against the crossbar and reacted quickly enough to prevent the ball crossing the line ahead of Crusaders equalising when McCann beat the offside trap to slot in.

Two minutes later, Kelsie Burrows’ foul on McCann earned the hosts a penalty but Norney saved Emily Wilson’s spot kick and also repelled Jessica Rea’s rebound to maintain parity with half an hour to play.

Fi Morgan sent an acrobatic effort wide and Kirsty McGuinness drew a save from the keeper, who also made stops from Callaghan and Magee as the Reds went in search of a winner.

Harvey-Clifford dealt with another Kirsty McGuinness blast, while McDaniel failed to make the most of being teed up inside the box before Cliftonville’s pressure told with 11 minutes left when Magee worked hard to win the ball back and promptly dispatched it into the net.

Magee might have had a second had Amy McGivern not cut Grace McKimm’s cross out, but a third goal wasn’t necessary as the Reds held on for a crucial three points.

Cliftonville: Norney, White, Burrows, Morgan, Finnegan, McDaniel, C McGuinness, K McGuinness, McKimm, Callaghan, Magee. Unused subs: Murphy, Montgomery, Reilly, Thompson, O McGuinness, Irvine, Mailey.