Donegal Celtic 1 Cliftonville 1: Cliftonville substitute Rory Donnelly snatched a last-gasp draw at Celtic Park last night with an injury-time leveller, but his team failed to move into second place in the Carling Premiership.
A one-minute silence in memory of Michaela McAreavey, the daughter of Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte, who was killed while on honeymoon this week, was held prior to the game.
At the end of a scoreless first-half it was the visitors who were left wondering how they hadn’t broken the deadlock.
Attack after attack was launched on the Celtic goalmouth and they came closest when striker Chris Scannell rattled the crossbar as he stretched to head George McMullan’s cross in the 11th minute.
Chances flowed for the Reds, but opportunities too often ended with a desperate Celtic foot breaking down an attack or Cliftonville’s final ball undoing positive approach play.
Only twice in the first period did Celtic penetrate the visitors defence and on both occasions the otherwise idle goalkeeper John Connolly dealt comfortably with dangerous crosses from Eamon McAllister and then Paul McVeigh.
After the break, former DC player Ciaran Caldwell struck the Celtic post with a low drive in the 51st minute, but after that Cliftonville simply stalled.
It was all Celtic and Darren McNamee struck a deserved opener when he made the most of McVeigh’s blocked shot from close range.
But on the stroke of injury-time, Celtic ‘keeper Declan Brown was out-jumped by Donnelly in a race for Liam Fleming’s cross and nodded the ball into the empty net.
The result leaves Celtic still rooted to the foot of the Premiership, but they have now closed the gap on Newry City to just three points.
Donegal Celtic: Brown, Muir, Gargan, McNamee, O’Hara, Henderson, McAlorum, Bradley, McAllister, P McVeigh, Watson. Subs: Curran, Dickson (for Henderson 77), McMenamin, Glenholmes, McCann
Cliftonville: Connolly, Fleming, R Scannell, B Holland, McMullan, C Scannell, Garrett, Caldwell, Seydak, Johnston. Subs: Burns (for Holland 78), Bannon, Donnelly (for Garrett 78), Jones, D McVeigh.
Referee: Raymond Hetherington (Dungannon)