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Full Time

Second nature for Gormley

Cliftonville 4-1 Crusaders

By Conor McLaughlin

Hat-trick hero Joe Gormley says he knew that he'd be ordered to retake a penalty on Saturday - and insists that's why he missed it.

Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter erupted after referee Raymond Hetherington handed the Cliftonville striker a second chance to break the deadlock in this typically feisty north Belfast derby.

Having seen his initial strike saved by goalkeeper Brian Jensen, Gormley was offered a reprieve when it transpired that visiting midfielder Declan Caddell - whose concession of the spot-kick for a foul on Conor McDonald had earned a second yellow card - was still on the pitch.

The Reds goal ace made sure of things at the second time of asking and would dispatch another penalty before sealing his treble shortly after the interval.

Stephen Garrett put the hosts 4-0 ahead, with Crues winger Gavin Whyte completing the day's scoring - inevitably - from the spot.

"I knew I'd have to take it again, so that's why I missed it," said a straight-faced Gormley afterwards.

When probed further, a smile broke out before he admitted: "I hadn't a clue what was going on. The referee just said it was being retaken, so I picked the ball up again."

Having won a discussion with Rory Donnelly about who was taking the initial kick, Gormley said he never had any qualms about stepping up again.

"Rory wanted the first one, but I told him I was the penalty taker and then he said he wanted to hit the retake, but I was always taking that, too."

The victory brought an end to Crusaders' dominance of the derby.

Baxter's side had won 13 of the previous 14 duels, with a solitary point earned on Boxing Day 2015 Cliftonville's sole reward for their efforts since October 4, 2014.

Gormley proved the difference that day, too and, given he's since been sold to Peterborough United, suffered and recovered from a cruciate ligament injury, loaned to St Johnstone and returned to Solitude in between times, the relieved delerium which greeted all of the hosts' goals on Saturday was understandable.

"It's been a bit of a wait but we knew we had to beat Crusaders some time," added the 28-year-old.

"A lot of things have been said and written about us and it was time to deliver and show what we can do. Thankfully, we've been able to do that."

Crues chief Baxter made no secret of his fury over the decision to allow Gormley a second bite at the cherry.

"We've come in at half-time and I've told the players to get in the showers because we're not going back out," he revealed.

"That shows how much days like this hurt. Refereeing has simply got to improve.

"Raymond Hetherington is a lovely guy, one of the nicest you could meet, but you just can't talk to referees these days, they don't want to know.

"That's the weekend ruined for me, I'll go home now and not speak to my wife, she'll be in the dog house for three days and won't get any dinner - or maybe it'll be me that gets no dinner!

"Do referees care after performances like that? Do they examine things and do they stay with him for the next few days?

"The referee is the one who has let the penalty be taken in the first place, so we should just get on with it. If it had been scored, I very much doubt it would have been taken again."

CLIFTONVILLE: Neeson, Cosgrove, Harney, Breen, Ives, Garrett, Bagnall, McDonald, Curran, Gormley (J Donnelly, 80 mins), R Donnelly. Unused subs: Dunne, McGovern, Winchester, Lavery, A Donnelly, Grimes.

CRUSADERS: Jensen, Forsythe, Burns, Ward, McClean, Whyte (Cushley, 69 mins), Snoddy, Caddell, Bonner (Suarez, 58 mins), Heatley (Glackin, 80 mins), Owens. Unused subs: O'Neill, Beverland, Lowry, Carvill.

Ref: Raymond Hetherington (Dungannon)

Man of the match: Joe Gormley

Match rating: 8/10

Belfast Telegraph

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