Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

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Gray pays tribute to Reds troops after dynamic duo lead the way

Ballymena United 3 Cliftonville 0

By David Thomson

Cliftonville boss Barry Gray saluted his players after they cruised to a 3-0 victory at Ballymena United.

Rory Donnelly bagged a double after Joe Gormley's opener while the Sky Blues also had Cathair Friel sent off for dissent.

"Full credit to the boys, it was a tough night but they dug in and got a win and a clean sheet," said Gray. "The penny is dropping with the players. They have stepped up and produced performances. Joe and Rory are scoring goals and the most pleasing thing is their partnership is flourishing. Strikers thrive on scoring goals, it gives them more confidence.

"Third place in the league would guarantee European football and it would take some pressure off us in the Cup final."

It took Gormley only three minutes to find the back of the net again after Kofi Balmer had been caught out by a ball over the top from Jamie Harney.

United found themselves a man down in the 34th minute after Friel was shown a straight red card for dissent by referee Ian McNabb.

Cliftonville doubled their lead in the 39th minute as Donnelly collected a Levi Ives cross and poked the ball past keeper Ross Glendinning.

Donnelly made it 3-0 late on for the visitors to seal the comfortable win.

Belfast Telegraph

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