Gray hails his rampant Reds as Gormley double helps see off Stute
Cliftonville 3 Institute 0
Joe Gormley made it three headed goals in as many Solitude outings as Cliftonville claimed their first Danske Bank Premiership win since the opening day by seeing off Institute.
Though the goalscoring prowess of the man for whom the club's all-time scoring record is now imminent has never been in question, Gormley's tally of headed efforts have been few and far between over the years. But he popped up with another to complete the scoring last night.
The 66th minute conversion came after Gormley himself had added to Ryan Curran's early opener to put Cliftonville in control and end recent frustrations.
Solitude supremo Barry Gray said: "We are delighted with our first clean sheet of the season and this is a performance we can take a lot of heart from.
"It was important to get our first home win and more points on the board and the fashion in which we've done it is pleasing.
"Our players have taken a lot of criticism and we all needed to work harder so this week we have done and you can see the result on the pitch."
Having verbally gone through his players for a shortcut in the wake of last week's dismal display against Newry City, it was no surprise to see Gray make a string of changes to his starting line-up. Such were Cliftonville's lack of options in a backline decimated by injury and bans that, in addition to the restoration of the experienced Jaimie McGovern, they were forced to recall Aaron Donnelly from international duty with Northern Ireland's Under 19s.
Promising winger Thomas Maguire was handed his first Premiership start.
On six minutes, McGovern's long throw-in wasn't dealt with and the ball fell favourably for Curran, who smashed home with a first-time finish.
Soon later, the hosts doubled their advantage when Curran's smart touch set Jay Donnelly scampering away on the left and, when he pulled the ball back, Gormley was on hand to produce a firm finish.
Cliftonville made absolutely sure of the points midway through the second period when Maguire's industry saw him tee McGovern up for the cross that Gormley met at the back post to nod into the bottom corner.
CLIFTONVILLE: Brush, McGovern, Ives, Breen, C Curran, R Curran, Catney, Gormley, J Donnelly, Maguire, A Donnelly. Subs: Neeson, Garrett (Maguire, 67 mins), White, McDonald (J Donnelly, 63 mins), Lavery (Catney, 73 mins), McMenamin, McNulty.
INSTITUTE: Gallagher, R Morrow, McLaughlin, Bonner, D Curry, Doherty, Dunne, McCrudden, Moorehead, Jarvis, Wilson. Subs: Harkin (Jarvis, 56 mins), S Curry, J Morrow, Brown, McIntyre (Dunne, 79 mins), McCready, Henderson (Wilson, 79 mins).
Referee: Andrew Davey (Bangor).