Cliftonville Ladies have surged into a five-point lead at the top of the Danske Bank Women’s Premiership after a stunning 3-0 victory over champions Glentoran Women.
The win means that no matter what happens in next Wednesday’s final round of matches before the break for the Women’s Euro 2022 finals the Reds will be top of the table when the season resumes again in August.
It could, however, have been very different had the Glens not had a goal disallowed and Jessica Foy scored from the penalty spot – both of which happened after Cliftonville had opened up that three-goal lead.
There was nothing between the teams after a tight first half, but all that changed three minutes after the break when Toni Leigh Finnegan struck the opening goal.
With a shot of confidence gained from taking the lead the Reds took the game by the scruff of the neck and made it 3-0 by the 70-minute mark with both McGuinness sisters, first Kirsty and then Caitlin, finding the net.
The Glens did respond, Cora Morgan had the ball in the net only for her strike to be ruled out for offside and a period of pressure then won them a penalty after Jessica Foy was fouled by Rachael Norney.
The Cliftonville goalkeeper made amends when she tipped Foy’s spot kick onto the crossbar and the Reds still have a 100 per cent record six games into the season. Sion Swifts Ladies kept hold of third place and moved to within two points of the Glens in the process with a 3-0 derby victory over Derry City Women at the Brandywell.
The Strabane side got their noses in front when Naomi McLaughlin scored from the penalty spot, but Derry were still very much in the hunt for a point until Cora Chambers made it 2-0 with just four minutes to go and Aoibhe O’Neill grabbed the third in injury time.
Linfield Ladies are also just two points behind their Big Two rivals, but had to come from behind to see off Lisburn Ladies and needed three late goals to secure a 4-1 win.
Rachel Kerr gave Lisburn the lead before Kerri Halliday levelled for the Blues.
A neat finish from Carla Devine put Linfield ahead midway through the second half and Halliday added her second.
Devine then pounced to head home the fourth.
In Cookstown Crusaders Strikers came from behind to beat Mid Ulster Ladies.
Sharagh Murphy’s opener for Mid Ulster was quickly cancelled out by Emily Wilson before Jessica Magee restored the lead.
After Morganne Beggs levelled the Crues powered on and goals from Megan Ingram and Jessica Rea completed the victory.