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Close quarters

Cliftonville 2-0 Newry City

Close-range finishes from Ryan Curran and Joe Gormley earned Cliftonville maximum returns against Newry City at Solitude this afternoon.

After a sluggish start, the Reds burst into life and saw waves of pressure rewarded when Curran was on hand to turn a Gormley cross into the net from point-blank range and, though a string of missed opportunities could have come back to haunt the hosts, Gormley secured the victory when he converted Sean Moore’s squared pass in the final minutes.

Though the victory was well deserved, Cliftonville could have found themselves behind in the opening minutes when Kris Lowe’s underhit backpass was capitalised upon by Daniel Hughes but, after being directed wide by goalkeeper Nathan Gartside, he was unable to find the net from a narrow angle.

Most of the first-half’s remaining action was played out at the other end of the park, where Gormley and Ronan Hale were denied by fine saves from Steven Maguire before the deadlock was broken when Lowe played Gormley in on the right and his ball across the face of goal was given the finish it deserved by Curran.

Hale then sent an effort over the top and had another shot cleared off the line by Ryan McGivern inside 60 seconds, with Ronan Doherty next to be denied by Maguire, who also repelled a Gormley volley minutes after Andrew Martin had hacked a Luke Turner attempt clear and Curran had slammed wide.

The Reds’ dominance didn’t carry into the second-half, but they still looked the most likely scorers and almost went 2-0 up when a low drive from Hale almost embarrassed Maguire, who reacted smartly to stop the ball squirming through his legs.

Jonny Addis saw a half-volley deflected wide by Darren King and Hale hit the side netting before Curran threatened twice in a minute – Maguire saving after his first attempt had been steered wide.

The security goal arrived with two minutes left on the clock and came virtue of some slick passing in the aftermath of a Newry free-kick being delivered into the box.

Chris Gallagher seized on the clearance and hooked the ball forward towards Moore, whose flick sent Hale scampering forward. He then returned the favour for Moore, with the substitute’s pass allowing Gormley to seal the deal.

Cliftonville: Gartside, Addis, Gallagher, Rory Hale (Moore, 74 mins), R Curran, Lowe, Robinson, Doherty, Gormley (C Curran, 90 mins), Turner, Ronan Hale (McDonagh, 90 mins). Unused subs: Donnelly, Storey, Casey, Coates.