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Football: It's three and easy for Reds...

By Conor Mclaughlin

Cliftonville cruised into the quarter-finals of the CIS Cup with a comfortable victory over a lacklustre Armagh at Solitude yesterday.




Cliftonville cruised into the quarter-finals of the CIS Cup with a comfortable victory over a lacklustre Armagh at Solitude yesterday.

The Reds signalled their intent early on when Gary Kennedy sent a first minute free-kick towards the top corner of Gavin Cushley's goal, only for the visiting keeper to pull of a superb diving save.

The deadlock was broken on 28 minutes when Ronan Scannell sent a free-kick in from the left and Kennedy rose to nod home his first goal of the season.

The advantage was finally doubled on the stroke of half-time in somewhat controversial style.

As Cushley attempted to clear the ball, George McMullan - who had been receiving off-field treatment for an injury - returned to the pitch and charged the Armagh keeper's kick down.

Possession fell to Kennedy and he set up McMullan, who struck the base of the post with his initial effort but made no mistake with the rebound.

It was 3-0 five minutes after the re-start, when a superb ball from Chris Scannell carved the visiting defence wide open and Mark Holland curled a first-time effort into the corner.

Boss Eddie Patterson was a happy man afterwards.

"It was all about attitude today," he said.

"In the past, teams like Armagh have come to Solitude and caused an upset, but our boys approached this game in the right manner and did a professional job.

"Last year, it was after Christmas before we recorded our first home win whereas we've now picked up seven points from three games here this season and that's the sort of form we should be aiming to replicate on a regular basis - it's time we made Solitude a fortress."

Opposite number Gary McKinstry was understandably downbeat following a fifth defeat from five games.

"We're running out of time before the league season gets underway," he said.

"We need to work harder and get things together because we're making things difficult for ourselves, nevermind the fact we were playing a team who'll be up at the top end of the table.

"We all need to pull together in the same direction and, once we begin doing that, I've confidence that we can turn the corner."

CLIFTONVILLE: Connolly 7, Fleming 7, R Scannell 7, Johnston 7, O'Hara 7, McAlinden 7, M Holland 7, G McMullan 8, C Scannell 7, Downey 7, Kennedy 8. Subs: Friars (Kennedy, 71 mins) 6, Smyth (O'Hara, 86 mins) 6, O'Loughlin (McMullan, 71 mins) 6.

ARMAGH: Cushley 6, S Walker 6, Turkington 5, C Walker 6, Gracey 6, Cowan 5, Cullen 6, Best 5, Slater 5, Forker 5, Meehan 5. Subs: McSorley (Best, 45 mins) 6, Campbell (S Walker, 66 mins) 5, Coney (Slater, 71 mins) 5.

REFEREE: Robert Penney (Carrickfergus) 7


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