NIFL Premiership

Cliftonville 1–0 Glentoran 

KRIS Lowe’s deflected strike saw Cliftonville move into second place, two points behind leaders Larne after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Glentoran at Solitude on Tuesday evening. 

The Glens dominated the majority of proceedings without seriously testing Reds' ’keeper Nathan Gartside and they were made to pay for their lack of cutting edge when Sean Moore teed up left-back Lowe whose shot cannoned off Seanan Clucas and into the net. 

Thereafter, Paddy McLaughlin’s side saw the game out to make it two victories over the East Belfast outfit in the space of a month and move behind pacesetters Larne, much to the delight of their manager. 

“Against good sides, you have to understand that there will be spells in the game where you might be doing a lot of chasing and a lot of defending, that was part of what we set out to do,” McLaughlin revealed. 

“There were going to be spells of the game where we wouldn’t have possession for a while, and it proved to be the case. 

“I don’t remember Nathan (Gartside) making a save that you were thinking he shouldn’t have made, and I think the saves that he made were routine for him. There were shots from distance and were long balls into the box, which we defended really well. 

“All in all, I thought we defended really well out of possession, the shape of our team and work rate was excellent. When we had it we created a couple of chances of our own.

“I thought that McDonagh and Moore in both wide areas were very good for us and Ronan and Joe together linked up really well and caused trouble every time we attacked. 

“That’s how games pan out. Sometimes there can be a defining moment in a game and that’s what it was. There was only one clear chance in the game that came our way. 

“We’re delighted and fair play to Kris Lowe. It’s his first goal for the club and it’s a long time coming. I hope he doesn’t wait 97 games for his next goal."

McLaughlin was forced into one alteration from the weekend's 4-1 win over Portadown as a chest infection ruled out Ronan Doherty, his place was occupied by Jonny Addis in a restricted starting team. 

Cliftonville were first to threaten when Ronan Hale’s snapshot was parried by Aaron McCarey, the follow-up fell to Joe Gormley whose header was off target. 

At the other end, ex-Cliftonville striker Rory Donnelly stabbed an effort wide of the target, just after the quarter-hour mark Aaron Wightman and Bobby Burns put two teasing crosses into the area. Eventually, Danny Purkis hit a snapshot into the side netting. 

Midway through the half Seanan Clucas collected a pass in midfield from Terry Devlin and got himself into a shooting position, but his effort was straight down the throat of Nathan Gartside who gathered. 

Sean Murray then tried his luck from range, again Gartside collected under little pressure and at the break, a largely uneventful half ended scoreless.

The second period started as the first ended with Glentoran on the front foot as Danny Purkis sent in a telling cross which evaded Rory Donnelly in the area. 

Aaron Wightman then slipped a pass through to Seanan Clucas, but Gartside was quickly out to gather ahead of the midfielder. 

Just after the hour-mark, a long pass picked out Rory Donnelly whose goal-bound effort was cleared off the line and behind by Luke Turner, but the resulting corner came to nothing. 

Cliftonville upped the ante approaching the final quarter of an hour, Ronan Hale picked out Joe Gormley with a long pass, but the striker's shot took a deflection off Bobby Burns and McCarey was able to collect. 

The hosts were seeing plenty more possession and with little over 10 minutes remaining, they broke the deadlock. 

Sean Moore used his pace and confidently took on Rhys Marshall. It looked as if the youngster had over-run the ball, but he did just enough to guide a layoff into the path of Kris Lowe whose shot took a deflection off Seanan Clucas on its way past Aaron McCarey.  

Lowe then whipped in a cross-cum-shot that flashed inches past the post moments later and at the other end Danny Purkis's near-post shot was turned behind by Gartside and the resulting corner came to nothing. 

A further opportunity then went a begging through a glancing Jay Donnelly header that went past the post, but the Glens were unable to salvage a share of the spoils and they remain in fifth place in the table with just one win in their last eight games. Victory ensures that Cliftonville moved above Linfield into second place, tucked just two points behind leaders Larne ahead of their meeting at the turn of the year. 

CLIFTONVILLE: Gartside, Addis, Coates, Moore, Gallagher, Lowe, Rory Hale (Casey 75’), McDonagh (C Curran 80’), Ronan Hale (R Curran 75’), Gormley. 

GLENTORAN: McCarey, McCullough, Burns, Marshall, R Donnelly (J Donnelly 70’), Murray (Smith 81’), McClean, Clucas (Crowe 81’), Devlin, Purkis, Wightman (Roy 70’). 

REFEREE: Christopher Morrison