Goals galore in an action packed second-half here at New Grosvenor as Lisburn Distillery made an early mark on the JJB Sports Premiership.
After drawing with Glentoran on Saturday Paul Kirk’s side defeated last season’s third placed side thanks to a brace from Darren Armour and a goal from Curtis Allen.
Paul Kirk’s side should have gone ahead on seven minutes. Curtis Allen sent a cross into the box, Darren Armour got the touch and Connolly saved superbly. The ball ran to Chris Kingsberry but he could only hit it against Aaron Smyth who was virtually on the goal-line.
The Reds came into the game five minutes later, Chris Scannell breaking clear but Phil Matthews stretched out to push the striker’s effort wide.
The visitors however posed a greater threat when they went forward, Matthews was forced into a couple of saves before Pat McShane slid in to clear a dangerous cross on 26 minutes.
The Whites took the lead on 49 minutes. Peter McCann hoisted a deep free-kick into the Reds box, up went Connolly and a host of bodies, before the ball deflected off Darren Armour and in.
There was no time to catch breath as Cliftonville responded with the equaliser inside three minutes. Rory Hamill curled in a corner that flashed in off David McAlinden on 52 minutes. Another corner also saw Eddie Patterson’s side almost claim a second six minutes later. McAlinden headed on from the edge of the box and Ciaran Donaghy headed over from six yards out.
Whilst the visitors continued to threaten it was the Whites who struck again on 66 minutes. Allen cut inside from the left, slipped past a couple of defenders and went down inside the box following a challenge from Ryan Catney. Armour made no mistake before Allen got on the score sheet six minutes later.
His persistence paid off when he got in between a defender and keeper Connolly to knock the ball goalward, Donaghy got back to clear off the line but Allen followed up to force the ball onto the post before eventually netting at the second attempt.
Connolly denied Allen a second two minutes from time but the Whites were comfortable winners. LISBURN DISTILLERY: Matthews, Thompson (Gawley 46), McShane (Buchanan 54), Magee, P.Muir, G.Muir, P.McCann, Kilmartin, Kingsberry (Cooling 85), Armour, Allen. Subs: Shaw, G.Browne
CLIFTONVILLE: Connolly, Smyth, R.Scannell, Catney, Donaghy, McAlinden, O’Connor (O’Neill 82), Hamill, C.Scannell, McMullan, Murphy (Patterson 82). Subs: Boyd, Lagan, O’Hara.
Referee : Stephen Weatherall (Belfast)