Rampant Cliftonville roast Welders
Cliftonville 3 H&W Welders 0: Holders Cliftonville eased into round three of the League Cup with a second-half pummelling of H&W Welders at Solitude.
Frustrated throughout a pretty actionless opening 45 minutes, the Reds sped through the gears to register two goals from man-of-the-moment Joe Gormley before up-and-coming prospect Johnny McMurray sealed the win.
Reds boss Tommy Breslin made five changes from the team that beat Warrenpoint Town little more than 48 hours earlier and handed a debut to former Glentoran starlet Martin Murray, who was denied a ninth minute goal when Welders keeper Lee Windrum stood up tall to deny him in a one-on-one opportunity.
Prior to that, the visitors had come even closer to opening the scoring when Stephen Garrett looked certain to poke home at the far post only for a smart reaction stop from Windrum.
Matty Burrows then shot straight at Cliftonville keeper Conor Devlin when team-mate Stuart Beattie was better positioned inside the 18-yard box and the visitors would come to rue missing what proved their final goalscoring opportunity before Gormley put the Reds in front.
There were 54 minutes on the clock when Marc Smyth and Liam Boyce teamed up on the edge of the area and when their attempt at a one-two was cut short by Philip Simpson's hand, referee Keith Kennedy had no option but to point to the penalty spot and Gormley made no mistake to rack up his eighth of the season.
The next wasn't long in coming and again there was a touch of good fortune about it when Boyce's initial effort took a nasty deflection that deceived Windrum and left Gormley with the most simple of finishes from close range.
His hopes of a second hat-trick in as many outings were dashed by his 64th minute substitution, but the hosts did go on to claim a third when McMurray – introduced for Murray – took just four minutes to open his own account when he reacted quickest after Ciaran Caldwell's delivery wasn't properly cleared inside the six-yard box.
CLIFTONVILLE: Devlin, R Scannell, Donnelly, McNeill, Smyth, Catney (Doherty 64), Gormley (Caldwell 64), Cosgrove, Murray (J McMurray 76), McVeigh, Boyce. Subs not used: McGovern, O'Carroll.
H&W WELDERS: Windrum, G Beattie (Middleton 64 mins), Armstrong, Devine, D McMurray, Simpson, Cockroft (Black 83), S Beattie, Burrows (Cahoon 70 mins), Garrett, Dickson. Subs not used: Magennis, Harris,.
Referee: Keith Kennedy (Belfast).