Belfast Telegraph

Cliftonville's high five brings the title a step closer

Cliftonville 5 Coleraine 0

By Conor McLaughlin

Cliftonville delivered yet another five-star performance to sweep Coleraine aside in devastating fashion at Solitude.

Ahead through an early Aaron Canning own goal, strikes from Liam Boyce and Joe Gormley handed the Reds a commanding interval advantage, which they added to with late strikes from Stephen Garrett and Eamonn Seydak to climb an astonishing 12 points clear at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership.

"We're only looking after ourselves, we knew with the Crusaders game being off this was a chance to send a message and go 12 points clear," said Reds manager Tommy Breslin.

"The target is to win all our home games and we'll try to win a few away from home as well and hopefully that will be enough.

"We have 10 games left to play, 30 points still to play for and there is a long way to go.

"Until it's mathematically over we won't be celebrating."

There was no danger of the elements forcing a cancellation thanks to the efforts of a band of volunteers – including players Conor Devlin and Boyce – in removing the snow from the 3G pitch earlier in the day.

And Devlin put his hands to further good use with barely 90 seconds on the clock with a flying fingertip save to turn Ruairi Harkin's free-kick round the post – but that was as good as it got for Coleraine in the opening half.

They were behind less than a minute later when the unfortunate Canning's attempted clearance of a Ryan Catney cross rocketed past his own keeper and into the bottom corner.

Michael Doherty was beaten again just past the quarter-hour when the Bannsiders defence failed to react as Catney's flicked header fell into Boyce's path and he produced a typically assured finish from close range.

Cliftonville went in search of further goals and Canning had to be sharp to clear a Gormley shot off the line on 35 minutes.

The third eventually arrived on 40 minutes when George McMullan's throw-in fell to Gormley's feet and after a smart exchange of passes with Boyce he stroked home from an acute angle to draw level with his strike partner on 26 goals for the season.

The Bannsiders had strong appeals for a 77th minute penalty waved away by referee Raymond Hetherington, who felt there had been insufficient contact to send Curtis Allen to ground amid a goalmouth scramble.

Goal number four arrived when the referee played advantage following David Ogilby's foul on Diarmuid O'Carroll, allowing Boyce to thread a pass through to Garrett, who netted via the post.

The best was saved until last, however, as Seydak powered home a beauty of a strike for his first goal of the season.

CLIFTONVILLE: Devlin, McGovern, Johnston, McMullan, Garrett, O'Carroll, Seydak, Catney, Gormley, McVeigh, Boyce. Subs: Caldwell, Donnelly (for Gormley, 72 mins), Templeton, Cosgrove (for McMullan, 82 mins), Knowles (for Johnston, 84 mins).

COLERAINE: Doherty, Beverland, Hegarty, McVey, Scullion, Allen, Harkin, McIlmoyle, Canning, Boyce, Tomelty. Subs: Ogilby (for McVey, 49 mins), Watt, Jennings (for Boyce, 55 mins), Owens (for Tomelty, 64 mins), McMullan.

Referee: R Hetherington (Dungannon).

Belfast Telegraph


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