NIFL Premiership

Cliftonville 1– 0 Glentoran 

RYAN Curran shot down Glentoran with a goal 20 minutes from time to wrap up a third successive victory for Cliftonville after a 1-0 win at Solitude on Saturday afternoon. 

In a tense encounter that hadn’t many clear-cut opportunities, the Glens dominated possession but just like the beginning of last season, the game was settled by Ryan Curran after Aaron McCarey had twice repelled efforts in the build-up. 

Reds’ manager Paddy McLaughlin was delighted with the victory and especially coming off the back of beating Coleraine in midweek. 

“I’m delighted, we know how good Glentoran are,” reflected McLaughlin. 

“I’m sure they’ll be up there as one of the title contenders and to have them early in the season was a tough ask. We played Coleraine - another team that are contenders in midweek - (so) to come out on top in both games we’re delighted. Especially keeping our first clean sheet of the season too. 

“It’s imperative we keep clean sheets if we want to try and build on that and win games. We don’t want to be giving away soft goals, so it was important we kept a clean sheet. It’s been a tough week for us with Carrick, Coleraine and Crusaders coming up. To come out with maximum points so far, we’re delighted.” 

McLaughlin named an unchanged starting 11 from Tuesday evening's win over Coleraine, but recent addition Colin Coates made the bench. 

Glentoran were almost ahead inside of two minutes when a corner from the right came through the crowded area and landed at the feet of Paddy McClean whose thumping effort deflected off Jay Donnelly and clipped the bar on the way over. 

On 10 minutes, a Hjvore Plum deep cross was met by Rory Donnelly whose header skidded across the goal and just past the post. 

It took Cliftonville a quarter of an hour to create their first half chance as Jamie McDonagh and Ryan Curran did well to hassle and harry on the edge of the area with Curran steering the ball into the path of Levi Ives, but the left-back’s curling effort was met by former Reds' shot-stopper Aaron McCarey. 

A few minutes later, Jamie McDonagh exchanged passes with Ronan Doherty and got a shot off, but it was straight down the throat of McCarey. 

Marcus Kane let fly with a low drive which Dunne gathered low down and Plum had a chance to trouble the Reds’ ’keeper from a free-kick on the half hour mark, but Dunne was equal to his near post effort. 

Sixty-seconds later, the Glens forced the best opportunity of the half when marquee summer signing Shay McCartan sent a dangerous ball across the face of goal. Jonny Addis got to it in time and Ryan Curran completed the clearance. 

Just before the break, Jamie McDonagh sent in a free-kick from right but the player that went the other way in the summer swap deal thwarted him as McCarey claimed it and the sides went in level at the interval. 

Glentoran threatened early in the second period with Marcus Kane crossing from the left and Dunne coming to collect. 

Jamie McDonagh is challenged by Glentoran's Shay McCartan and Bobby Burns

Jamie McDonagh is challenged by Glentoran's Shay McCartan and Bobby Burns

At the other end, Aaron McCarey was forced to claw Jamie McDonagh’s cross behind for a corner and from the resulting set-piece, McDonagh’s delivery dropped in the area, Chris Gallagher played it back to the winger who lifted the ball a few inches over the angle of post and crossbar. 

The game was beginning to open up with Jay Donnelly snatching at an opportunity at the back post and shooting into the side-netting. 

Older brother Rory then tried to pick out Robbie McDaid at the back post, but his cross was poor and intercepted en route by Dunne. 

The deadlock was broken after 70 minutes at Solitude when Joe Gormley got in behind and forced a save from Aaron McCarey - the first any ’keeper had to in the game - the ball was recycled into the path of Jamie McDonagh who burst into the area and forced McCarey into a further save with Ryan Curran on-hand to smash the rebound home and make it 1-0. 

A second almost arrived within two minutes when Levi Ives lifted the ball high over the top for Gormley who dragged his effort inches past the post. 

Cliftonville were disciplined out of possession all afternoon and saw out the remaining quarter of an hour with ease to make it three home wins on the bounce and keep their place at the league summit. 

CLIFTONVILLE: Dunne, C Curran, Harney, Addis, Ives, McDonagh (Foster 89), Gallagher, Doherty, Hale, R Curran, Gormley (Lowe 81). 

GLENTORAN: McCarey, McCullough, Kane (Bigirimana 79), Burns, McCartan (O’Connor 79), J Donnelly (Mitchell 84), R Donnelly (Marron 79), McDaid, McClean, Marshall, Plum (Smith 88). 

REFEREE: Tim Marshall