Tommy Breslin hails season's best display as Cliftonville climb to table summit
Ballinamallard United 0 - Cliftonville 4
Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin watched his side produce their best football of the season to date in the opening half an hour at Ferney Park on Saturday as the Reds moved to the top of the Danske Bank Premiership table with a 4-0 victory over Ballinamallard United.
The champions were irresistible in the first 30 minutes as they bossed matters with front pair Davy McDaid and Joe Gormley along with wide men Chris Curran and Martin Donnelly giving the Mallards defence endless problems.
George McMullan opened the scoring from the penalty spot after McDaid was taken down by Mark Stafford and Curran slotted home a fine individual effort, heading the ball over Stafford before racing in on goal and rounding Fergal Murphy to make it 2-0.
The home side did have a good spell either side of half-time but they were unable to pull a goal back and Cliftonville made sure of the points as Gormley and McDaid both found the net to wrap up the win.
"We went about our business well, especially in the first half an hour when I thought we played exceptionally well," said Breslin.
"Probably the first half an hour was as well as we've played this season, but I didn't think that we controlled the game the whole 90 minutes; there were sloppy bits, there was loose passes, so there is still a lot of learning and a lot of improving to do.
"The first half an hour, though, we were very compact and very creative and probably that, and the first half against Portadown, is as well as we've played this season. It was very encouraging."
With Ballymena beaten on Friday night, the win lifted the Reds to the top of the table and, although Breslin says it is nice to be top, he is not reading too much into it at this early stage.
"We want to be there and we will relish being there, it doesn't hold any fears for us. But there is a tough game coming on Tuesday night and I've said before that the league will not really settle down until such times as the first round of fixtures have been played.
"So while we are top of the league we are not reading too much into it."
The Cliftonville boss was also full of praise for recent signing McDaid, who has made a positive impact since arriving from Coleraine.
He added: "I felt him and Joe linked up well and led the line and they were ably assisted by Marty (Donnelly) and Chris (Curran) and the two midfielders.
"Davy has settled in really well and most players do when they come to the club. He really deserved his goal and hopefully there is more to come."
Ballinamallard boss Whitey Anderson felt his side played a big part in their own downfall and was angered by what he described as 'schoolboy errors' by his defence.
"You take the game as a whole, they scored three goals with a ball over the top and I'm absolutely disgusted with my team and I've told them that," said Anderson.
"I don't know where we have started playing this high line out of, it wasn't worked at in training and the boys have decided to do their own thing out there. It was schoolboy errors by senior players who should know better.
"You can't make mistakes against Cliftonville as the likes of McDaid and Gormley are clinical and if you switch off they will punish you and that is what they did.
"The two goals in the second half were just long balls over the top with no pressure on the ball and our defence standing in the same position instead of dropping off."