Belfast Telegraph

Setanta Sports Cup: Cliftonville 4 Crusaders 2

Two late goals means it's Cliftonville who hold the advantage at the halfway stage of the north-Belfast derby's Setanta Sports Cup quarter-final battle.



Having taken a first-half lead, the Reds were pegged back when Crusaders netted either side of the interval at Solitude last night, but a subsequent leveller and red card for David Gibson helped the hosts gain the upper hand in the tie.

Cliftonville made two changes from the selection which lost 3-1 at home to Portadown, with Conal Burns and Rory Donnelly — who combined to net their consolation goal in that game — handed starting berths at the expense of Stephen Garrett and Mark Holland.

It was blatantly obvious, meanwhile, that Stephen Baxter's immediate priority is Crusaders' Premiership title challenge — which continues with a home game against Cliftonville this Saturday.

He made a plethora of amendments to the side which moved joint-top of the standings at the weekend.

Jonathan Magee will have mixed memories of the opening 45 minutes. After his wayward pass allowed George McMullan to stroke Cliftonville ahead, he popped up with a firm 32nd minute header to level things.

Crusaders pulled in front nine minutes into the second period when Darren Cassidy drilled in a low cross which Halliday cheekily flicked beyond John Connolly and into the bottom corner, but it wasn't long before parity was restored once more; the impressive Burns delivering the corner from which Dermot McVeigh powered home a header.

The 78th minute dismissal of Gibson for a second bookable offence helped swing thing in the hosts' favour. First, Garrett stroked into an empty net after Murphy had failed to hold Burns' effort and, barely 60 seconds later, Holland netted after Chris Scannell's effort was blocked by the keeper.

CLIFTONVILLE: Connolly, Hutton, C Scannell, McMullan, Seydak, Johnston, O'Connor, C Burns, Donnelly, Kane, McVeigh. Subs: Fleming, M Holland (for Donnelly, 67 mins), Garrett (for O'Connor, 67 mins), Smyth (for Hutton, 78 mins), Duffin, Bannon, Bradley

CRUSADERS: Murphy, Gibson, Cassidy, Magee, K Owens, Donnelly, Robinson, McCann, Faulkner, Halliday, Sweeney. Subs: Turner, Anderson, Harris, Rosatto (for Robinson, 67 mins), Cowans

Referee: Mark Courtney (Dungannon).

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