Dungannon Swifts 0–2 Cliftonville
RYAN Curran struck either side of the break as Cliftonville moved into third place in the table with a 2-0 win over Dungannon Swifts at Stangmore Park on Saturday afternoon.
Curran poked home midway through the first half that was dominated by the visitors and saw Ronan Hale denied by the crossbar and Declan Dunne on numerous occasions.
The Swifts were much improved after the break but Curran nodded home the insurance goal for Paddy McLaughlin’s side.
McLaughlin was delighted with the three points and various aspects that went with it over the course of the game.
“It’s a great three points and the clean sheet as well too,” he reflected.
“We created numerous chances and dominated possession throughout the game, which was very good.
“All grounds in the Irish League are tough to go to so we knew it was going to be tough here at Dungannon. We watched them against Glentoran last week, they played really well and were just unfortunate that the performances aren’t meriting the results. They’re playing really well but just unfortunate the results are going against them.
“We knew it was going to be difficult. I thought our boys were really good and it was a really strong performance throughout the 90 minutes. We’re delighted that we created plenty of chances, scored two good goals and kept a clean sheet. It’s a good day for us.”
The Reds' boss named an unchanged starting eleven from Tuesday evening's goalless draw with Linfield.
Cliftonville quickly asserted their authority and should have taken the lead as early as the fourth minute when Rory Hale picked out younger brother Ronan whose low effort was blocked by Ethan McGee.
Hale had a second opportunity moments later, but Declan Dunne did well to turn his free kick around the post after it had curled around the wall and was destined for the bottom corner.
The hosts went close through Joe McCready, the striker spun and made room for a shot that Nathan Gartside was forced to push away.
It was a rare forge forward for the Swifts who were on the backfoot again in the aftermath. Ryan Curran fizzed in an effort that Declan Dunne pushed behind at the expense of a corner and Ronan Hale then flashed a volley over the bar from the resulting set-piece.
Three points on the road. pic.twitter.com/YL0W9Qu8xg— Reds By The Minute ☘ (@RedsByTheMinute) November 12, 2022
Dunne denied Hale for the third time on the quarter-hour mark, but the breakthrough eventually arrived midway through the opening half.
Former Swifts' defender Kris Lowe played a magnificent through ball that Ronan Doherty latched onto inside the area. Doherty squared to Ryan Curran whose scuffed shot had enough to beat Declan Dunne and make it 1-0.
The Reds should have doubled their advantage before the break when Ronan Hale let fly with a stinging effort the edge of the box that had Dunne beaten, but not the crossbar.
A further curling effort from Hale ended up in the gloves of Dunne and Rory Hale failed to glance home a Kris Lowe cross as the half ended with Cliftonville taking a slender advantage in at the interval.
Dungannon began the second half much brighter with Joe McCready cutting the ball back for Rhyss Campbell, though Jonny Addis made an important block.
At the other end, Ronan Hale released Joe Gormley and Declan Dunne got fingertips to the striker’s effort.
It took until midway through the second half for Cliftonville to double their advantage. Luke Turner clipped in a ball from the left and Ryan Curran’s cushioned header found the net to make it 2-0 and double his account for the afternoon in the process.
Dungannon almost made it a nervy finish when a header struck the upright and then substitute Ben Gallagher saw a shot come off the post and into the path of a grateful Red shirt.
In the end, Curran’s goals proved the difference as Cliftonville moved into third place ahead of Crusaders in the table.
DUNGANNON SWIFTS: Dunne, Scott, Marron (Walsh 76’), Knowles, Mayse (McGinty 76’), McCready (Gallagher 73’), O’Connor, Campbell (Cushnie 76’), Barr (Bruna 83’), McGee, Animasahu.
CLIFTONVILLE: Gartside, Lowe, Addis, Robinson, Turner, Doherty, Gallagher, Rory Hale, R Curran, Ronan Hale (Moore 80’), Gormley (McDonagh 79’).
REFEREE: Ian McNabb