Carrick Rangers 0–3 Cliftonville
CLIFTONVILLE moved to within five points of league leaders Linfield with a 3-0 win over Carrick Rangers at the Loughview Leisure Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Rory Hale gave his side the lead against the run of the play in the opening half and younger sibling Ronan doubled their advantage midway through the second half.
Hosts Carrick remained a threat, but the game was settled when substitute Stephen Mallon swept home a third late on as Jim Magilton’s men avenged their earlier defeat to the Amber Army in the County Antrim Shield back in September to the delight of boss Jim Magilton.
“We talked about Carrick being a momentum team and when you give them encouragement, it is a very difficult place to come,” he reflected.
“They’ve shown that and had great results here. We mentioned it before the game, it was important that we got off to a really good start. They forced a succession of corners and set pieces, which we had to defend. We played really well off the second ball, which was important, so we had to show our quality off that.
“We scored at the right times, all three were counterattack goals. They were pressing late on so we were aware that if we could get that first pass away it was really important. We had to be clinical.
“Hypercritical, we probably could have done it a bit better. At 3-0 Stuart [King] might feel hard done by, I’m not sure. For me, it was three real quality goals and a great result.”
Magilton made one change from his side’s 1-0 win over Newry City eight days previous. Odhran Casey returned from suspension to replace Chris Gallagher [suspended].
Carrick were almost ahead inside of two minutes when Lewis MacKinnon got his shot off inside the area and David Odumosu needed to react to keep out the low effort.
Luke Turner then dallied and that allowed Nedas Maciulaitis an opportunity from a tight angle and Odumosu got down to divert the shot behind for a corner.
The hosts were caught on the counterattack as Cliftonville made the breakthrough on 17 minutes.
Andrew Mitchell picked out Ben Tilney unmarked from a free-kick and Tilney’s effort from the edge of the box was blocked. The Reds then turned defence to attack as Stephen Mallon carried the ball forward and slipped the ball to Rory Hale to tuck a low shot past Ross Glendinning and make it 1-0.
The home fans thought their side had drawn level when Kyle Cherry’s speculative looping effort from 35 yards dropped agonisingly close to the net with Odumosu back tracking, though it narrowly scaled the bar to the relief of the Reds goalkeeper.
Sixty seconds later and the ball was in the back of the Rangers net for the second time when Ronan Doherty shot across the face of goal and in, but the offside flag curtailed Cliftonville’s celebrations as Ben Wilson was adjudged to have impeded Ross Glendinning’s vision in the build-up.
It was end to end stuff as the Loughview Leisure Arena as mix-up from Luke Kenny allowed Curtis Allen an opportunity and only a well-timed dive at the feet of the striker allowed Odumosu to gather.
The tempo dropped which appeared to suit the visitors, Stephen Mallon overhit a cross and Ronan Doherty side-footed wide from Luke Turners cross.
Carrick were almost back on terms before the break. Ben Tilney saw a deflected shot blocked by the foot of Odumosu and after a further scramble Andrew Mitchell’s shot took a deflection and the offside flag was raised.
Stuart King’s side were then convinced that they should have had a penalty in injury time when Tilney’s cross hit the arm of Jonny Addis in the area, though referee Evan Boyce wasn’t convinced it was intentional and Hale’s goal was the difference at the interval.
The second half began quietly with Ronan Doherty going closest to doubling his sides lead before the hour mark, glancing wide from Luke Turner’s through ball.
Midway through the half, Cliftonville doubled their lead. Jonny Addis picked out the run of Ronan Hale with a long ball and Hale raced through one-on-one before lifting the ball over Ross Glendinning to give his side a degree of breathing space and score his third goal of the season.
David Odumosu needed to show quick instincts to prevent the hosts pulling a goal back with a quarter of an hour remaining.
Reece Glendinning’s flick on released Curtis Allen. The striker lost his footing and Odumosu was able to gather.
The on-loan Reds keeper was assured to collect Kyle Cherry’s cross after Luke Kenny slipped and Rangers’ substitute Emmet McGuckin almost latched onto the loose ball.
The three points were secured in the 83rd minute as Stuart King’s men attempted to play a high line which was breached by Stephen Mallon.
The winger kept himself onside and reached Sam Ashford’s cross-field pass, before rounding Ross Glendinning and sliding home his first league goal of the season to ensure his side would run out 3-0 winners at the conclusion.
CARRICK RANGERS: Glendinning, Surgenor, Mitchell (Crowe 72’), Allen, Maciulaitis (Cushley 67’), MacKinnon, Buchanan-Rolleston (McGuckin 76’), Cherry, Glendinning, Purkis, Tilney.
CLIFTONVILLE: Odumosu, Kearney, Addis, Kenny, Turner, Casey (C Curran 86’), Doherty, Rory Hale (Pepper 90+1’), Mallon, Ronan Hale (Gormley 85’), Wilson (Ashford 67’).
REFEREE: Evan Boyce