Gareth McKeown does not score scrappy goals — and doesn’t Cliftonville boss Eddie Patterson know it!
McKeown followed up his wonderful volley against the Reds on Boxing Day with two thunderbolt free-kicks to settle this pulsating north Belfast derby at Seaview.
Mark Dickson tortured the visitors’ defence and helped himself to a brace but it was two pieces of McKeown (pictured) magic that earned a standing ovation.
Mark Patterson netted twice for Cliftonville but this was a day to forget for the Reds who also had Ronan Scannell dismissed. But talented right-back McKeown’s two stunning set-pieces in the final five minutes ensured local bragging rights were snatched in some style.
“I thought we were guilty of a scrappy performance,” said McKeown. “To get to 4-2 is a great result for ourselves but we let them put us under a lot of pressure and we had to defend a lot in difficult weather conditions.
“A draw looked likely as we were not at our best and they worked hard but I’ll call it two bits of magic that made the difference in the end. I never score goals but when I do they are good ones. The second one went straight into the top corner of the net and it was an unbelievably good feeling.
“Our main goal is to secure third place in the league, even though we are doing well in the Irish Cup, and Lisburn Distillery will keep the pressure on us. Hopefully we can keep winning.”
Reds boss Eddie Patterson admitted he was sick of the sight of McKeown’s long range finishes.
“It’s very typical of the big man but I’ve got to question our goalkeeper for the first one,” he said. “He should have dealt with it.”