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Cliftonville 1 Lisburn Distillery 3

It was goal the winner for long stretches of Saturday’s contest at Solitude.

Lisburn Distillery led through Gary Thompson’s 12th minute rebound and, as Cliftonville swamped forward in a relentless stream of pressure, the second strike of the game was always going to prove crucial.

Had the Reds got it, then there’s little doubt they would have gone on to complete the turnaround and claim full points.

If it went the visitors’ way, then it was game set and match — and that’s exactly what happened when, after standing firm in the face of everything Cliftonville had to throw at them, Distillery broke forward in clinical fashion and doubled their advantage through Gary Browne.

Glenn Ferguson then added number three before Ronan Scannell pulled one back for the Reds, who had missed a 45th minute penalty when Phil Matthews got down well to save from George McMullan.

“I'm nearly speechless after that,” said boss Eddie Patterson.

“We've had 75 per cent possession, totally dominated things, played the game in Distillery's half, bombarded their goal but just couldn't find the net when it mattered.

“A bit more composure, a bit more belief and maybe it would have happened for us but it's all about putting the ball in the net.

“You have to give credit to Distillery and say that they were worthy winners — they took their chances when they came and defended heroically but, really, we've played so much worse than that and won matches in the past and will undoubtedly do so again in the future.”

With Whites manager Tommy Wright absent with flu, assistant John Cunningham took charge of proceedings for the day and admitted it was the backline who deserve the bulk of the plaudits.

“We defended brilliantly and, in the second-half, there was a long spell where it was pretty relentless but we held out and then showed what we're capable of at the other end when we put the ball in the net.

“And that was the biggest difference really, we made the most of our chances. Bodies were being put on the line in defence and there were willing workers right across the pitch for us.

“The boys did everything we asked of them and I'm sure Tommy will have felt a hell of a lot better when he heard the result.

“You have to work hard for everything you get against Cliftonville and we asked the boys to make sure they gave it everything in the tank.”

Belfast Telegraph