League Cup Third Round
Ards 1 Cliftonville 4
CLIFTONVILLE progressed to the quarter-final of the Bet McLean League Cup after three second-half goals saw them run out 4-1 winners over Championship leaders Ards at the Bangor Fuels Arena on Tuesday evening.
Leading 1-0 at the break to Jonny Addis first-half header, the Reds were pegged back by a well-worked Jamie Glover equaliser.
It was only short-lived though as Cricky Gallagher immediately restored his side’s lead and further strikes from Ryan Curran and Joe Gormley gave Paddy McLaughlin’s side a safe passage to the last eight and a meeting with Portadown in two weeks’ time.
🏆 Cliftonville will be away to Portadown in the League Cup quarter-finals. pic.twitter.com/vhFzP3wWEf— Cliftonville FC (@cliftonvillefc) October 26, 2021
Reds boss Paddy McLaughlin was delighted with his side’s response to Ards equaliser and with the second half performance.
“If your heads are down and you concede like that at 1-1 you never know how the game can go,” he reflected.
“We responded straight away and got the ball moving again and scored within 60 seconds and retook the lead again.
“We probably dominated the rest of the game for that, so it was a good response and shows a good test of their character.
“Whenever we concede a soft goal, to bounce straight back again within minutes. It was brilliant and fair play to them, they were superb in the second half especially.”
McLaughlin made three changes from the 11 who were beaten 1-0 by Ballymena United on Saturday afternoon.
Luke McNicholas, Chris Curran and Paul O’Neill all came into the starting 11 at the expense of Declan Dunne, Jamie McDonagh and Joe Gormley.
It was a quiet opening quarter in Bangor with both sides struggling to adapt to the windy conditions.
It was Cliftonville who eventually created the first half chance, Chris Curran managed to dig out a cross into the danger area and the ball dropped to Ryan Curran who was crowded out as he attempted a shot on Ethan Carry’s goal.
Just after the half-hour mark Christopher Crane blocked Kris Lowe’s attempted cross at the expense of a corner.
The set-piece was played short, and Aaron Donnelly delivered an inch-perfect cross which was headed home by Jonny Addis for his first goal of the season.
A second should have arrived on 41 minutes when Paul O’Neill slipped Rory Hale through, but the midfielder lifted his effort high over the bar.
Addis then missed the chance to double his and Cliftonville’s account, heading over from a set-piece from the other side, though his goal separated the sides at the interval.
The second half started in opposite fashion to the first with two goals in the opening free minutes.
Ards hit back on 47 minutes when Daniel Reynolds was chopped down outside the area and Patrick Cafolla slipped a low pass to Jamie Glover to pick his spot pass Luke McNicholas and draw the hosts level.
It was short-lived though as Cliftonville restored their lead 60 seconds later, after a neat attacking move down the right channel and the ball was played into the feet of Cricky Gallagher who sent a peach of shot past Carry and into the top corner to make it 2-1 for his first goal since his summer arrival from Glentoran.
The Reds secured their place in the last eight on 64 minutes when Ryan Curran powered home at the near post from Jamie McDonagh’s cross to make it 3-1 and score his fourth goal of the season in the process.
Carry denied McDonagh from making it four on 80 minutes, but the Ards ’keeper was helpless a few minutes later as Joe Gormley clipped in from range for his eighth of the campaign to make it a comfortable evening and set up a quarter-final clash with Portadown.
ARDS: Carry, Young, O’Kane, E McAllister (TJ Murray 68’), Ferrin, O’Hare, Glover (Dinu 78’), Crane (Jallow 67’), Calderwood, Cafolla (D McAllister 68’), Reynolds (Arthurs 68’).
CLIFTONVILLE: McNicholas, Lowe (Harney 79’), Addis (Foster 85’), Turner, A Donnelly, Gallagher, Doherty, Hale (McDonagh 61’), R Curran, C Curran (Kearns 79’), O’Neill (Gormley 61’).
REFEREE: Shane McGonigle