NIFL Premiership

Cliftonville 4–1 Coleraine 

CLIFTONVILLE narrowed the gap to the league summit to just three points after making it four wins from four against Coleraine this season with a 4-1 win at Solitude on Saturday afternoon. 

Ronan Hale and Shea Kearney struck inside of 22 minutes as the hosts held a 2-0 lead at the break. 

The Bannsiders halved the deficit early in the second half through Jamie McGonigle, but Sam Ashford restored the two-goal lead within a few minutes. 

Odhran Casey received his marching orders for a second yellow card in the closing stages, but despite finishing with 10-men, Rory Hale would extend Cliftonville’s lead in injury time and make it 13 league games unbeaten. 

Manager, Jim Magilton was delighted with the result but felt his side made things difficult for some periods in the game. 

“I’m delighted with the result and delighted with the three points,” Magilton acknowledged. 

“2-0 and thinking we were really going to go on and really stamp our authority on the game - we didn’t. We were a little bit lackadaisical and encouraged a good team with good players back into the game. I just thought we took our foot off the gas and they lulled me into a false sense of security. 

“When they train, their standards are so high and then when they start giving the ball away cheaply, it doesn’t sit well with me. 

“I think we needed half-time to come and I expected us then to go on, which we eventually did. 

“In between that, Coleraine had opportunities and I was slightly disappointed with one or two aspects of our play but obviously overjoyed with the result.” 

Magilton made two changes to the side that came back from 2-0 down to earn a draw at Glentoran on Tuesday evening: Stephen Mallon returned to the starting line-up and Paddy Burns came in for his first start since signing on deadline day. 

Coleraine opened brightly with Conor McKendry having a snapshot that Odumosu gathered. The goalkeeper then almost fumbled another McKendry effort that would fall behind for a corner, but the Bannsiders couldn’t make anything happen from it. 

The hosts’ first venture forward saw Stephen Mallon pick out Sam Ashford and his cross was glanced over by Rory Hale. 

The deadlock was broken after 11 minutes and it’s a moment that Rory Brown will want to forget. 

Lyndon Kane played the ball back to his ’keeper and with Ronan Hale trying to close him down, Brown slipped as Hale was able to roll the ball into the empty net to make it 17 for the season. 

Hale lifted another effort over the bar from Shea Kearney’s pass and it would be Kearney who doubled his side’s lead midway through the first-half. 

Shea Gordon slipped a pass inside to Rory Hale and Shea Kearney ran onto his cut-back and thumped a low drive into the net for his second goal of the season. 

Rory Brown needed to be alert to cut out a through ball to Sam Ashford before the half-hour mark that prevented a third.

Coleraine upped the ante before the break. Lee Lynch saw a shot deflected behind at the expense of a corner, then Graham Kelly sent a pinpoint cross and Matthew Shevlin’s close-range header drew a fine stop from Odumosu. 

McKendry would flash a curling effort past the post on the stroke of half-time as Cliftonville were in control at the interval. 

The Bannsiders were briefly back in contention five minutes into the second half. Lyndon Kane sent a ball up the line to Lee Lynch who quickly found Conor McKendry. The midfielder clipped a high ball in and whilst Matthew Shevlin’s header was kept out by Odumosu, Jamie McGonigle was on hand to tap in at the back post.

Ronan Doherty with Conor McKendry

Ronan Doherty with Conor McKendry

Their joy was short-lived as Cliftonville restored their two-goal lead less than two minutes later. 

Paddy Burns’ long throw was flicked on by the head of Sam Ashford that ricocheted off Kieran Farren and back into the path of Ashford to steer a shot into the bottom corner to make it 3-1. 

Coleraine huffed and puffed in the aftermath but were unable to reduce the deficit again. 

They were handed a numerical advantage for the final 10 minutes plus added time after Odhran Casey tripped Jamie McGonigle. Already on a yellow card, referee Lee Tavinder would show Casey a second yellow. 

They failed to make the use of the advantage and it was the 10 men of Cliftonville who added a fourth in injury-time. 

Rory Hale closed down Lyndon Kane on the edge of the box and curled a low shot beyond the reach of Brown and off the post to wrap up a 4-1 win at the conclusion. 

CLIFTONVILLE: Odumosu, Kearney, Casey, Addis, Burns, Mallon (Stewart 60’), Doherty, Rory Hale, Gordon (C Curran 76’), Ashford (Gormley 75’), Ronan Hale (Wilson 60’)(Pepper 86’). 

COLERAINE: Brown, Kane, Kelly, McKendry, Shevlin, Carson (A Jarvis 51’), Farren, Lynch, Scott, McGonigle, Cole (A Scott 76’). 

REFEREE: Lee Tavinder