Cliftonville 4 Ballinamallard 2
Cliftonville boss Tommy Breslin says all talk of an Irish Cup date with Donegal Celtic will be eclipsed by their vital Premiership games in the next four weeks — starting with tomorrow’s clash against the same opponents.
After seeing off Ballinamallard United thanks to doubles from Joe Gormley and Liam Boyce, the Reds were handed a repeat of last year’s sixth round tie but, rather than plotting revenge for that miserable exit, Breslin instead turned his attention to the possibility of opening up a nine-point lead at the top of the table in west Belfast tomorrow night.
“The fact they put us out 12 months ago means we know not to take anything for granted,” he said. “Packie McAllister’s starting to get them playing the way he wants to and I’m sure that, by the time the game comes around, they’ll be well fired up to come here and upset us all over again.
“At the minute, though, that match goes on the back burner because we have a lot of very important fixtures between now and then — starting, ironically, against DC on Tuesday night. That’s a massive game for us and one that we know we need to be at our very best to get anything out of because they’ll be well up for it, as always.”
Saturday’s contest got off to a bright start with Gormley and Ryan Campbell exchanging goals in the opening six minutes before the Mallards were reduced to 10 men when David Kee picked up two quickfire bookings from referee Alan Black.
A foul by goalkeeper Alvin Rouse allowed Gormley to net his second from the penalty spot before fellow frontman Boyce netted either side of a Steven Sheridan lob as the game ended as it had started, with a flurry of goals.
“Some of our defending was very poor,” said visiting boss Whitey Anderson.
“We were also very frustrated with some of the refereeing decisions and felt he lacked consistency. I’ve not said much about officials this season but, though our lives are governed by rules and regulations, common sense should always over-rule everything and I’m not sure that’s happened here.”