With the curtain having last month closed on Cliftonville’s 2022/23 season, cliftonvillefc.net today continues a new weekly mini-series reflecting on the good, the bad and the in-betweens of last term.
Every Monday between now and the new campaign getting under way, we’ll take a chronological look back on a month from the the term just finished – with September taking centre stage today.
An early goal from Ronan Hale and neat finish from Ryan Curran (above) ensured the Reds maintained their winning run at the expense of Portadown, who were invigorated by pulling one back before the half-hour mark in a Shamrock Park contest largely dominated by a Cliftonville side that could scarcely believe their own inability to extend their advantage into more comfortable territory.
Manager Paddy McLaughlin made 10 changes to his line-up for a midweek County Antrim Shield engagement at Bangor where, following 90 dour goalless minutes, the Reds had looked set to exit on penalties only for goalkeeper Fynn Talley’s heroics to put the seal on what proved a nervy victory.
The postponement of the Danske Bank Premiership clash with Glentoran owing to the death of Queen Elizabeth II meant Cliftonville’s next action was the commencement of their BetMcLean Cup defence against Harland & Wolff Welders at Blanchflower Stadium.
Hale opened the scoring with an inch-perfect lob before Joe Gormley emerged from the bench to register a double on his 400th appearance for the Club.
A late Hale free-kick was all that separated the sides when the Reds tackled Glenavon at Mourneview Park a few days later, with the month rounded off in an historic SPFL Trust Trophy tie with Queen’s Park – the team that had played a key role in Cliftonville’s formative years.
Twice behind at Solitude, defenders Colin Coates and Jonny Addis (main image) drew the Reds level before the Spiders wrapped up a 3-2 victory in a hugely entertaining game that visiting boss Owen Coyle predicted would not be bettered in the remainder of the competition eventually won by Hamilton Academical.
Disappointed to exit the tournament, Cliftonville were left to focus solely on domestic matters and a home clash with Newry City to kick October’s action off.
Portadown 1-2 Cliftonville
Ronan Hale, R Curran
Bangor 0-0 Cliftonville [4-5 on penalties]
H&W Welders 0-3 Cliftonville
Ronan Hale, Gormley 
Glenavon 0-1 Cliftonville
Cliftonville 2-3 Queen’s Park