Cliftonville swept Crusaders aside with a scintillating performance in a North Belfast Demolition Derby at Solitude this afternoon.
After registering two goals inside one first-half minute, the Champions extended their advantage immediately after the turnaround and could well have banked more than the four goals they eventually settled for at the end of a majestic display.
Chris Curran broke the deadlock with a smart left-footed finish on 37 minutes and, with the Crues still reeling, Barry Johnston took command of a goalmouth scramble to double the advantage almost immediately afterwards.
Visiting boss Stephen Baxter introduced Declan Caddell at the break in an attempt to shore things up but the second period was barely a minute old by the time Joe Gormley had made it 3-0 with a cheeky lob.
Gormley then provided the assist for strike partner Liam Boyce to complete the scoring as the Reds maintained their one point lead at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership.
CLIFTONVILLE: Devlin, Johnston, McNally, McMullan, Donnelly, Seydak, Smyth, Catney, Gormley, Curran, Boyce. Subs: Caldwell (for Johnston, 82 mins), C Scannell, O’Carroll (for Gormley, 78 mins), Cosgrove, Murray (for Boyce, 74 mins).
CRUSADERS: O’Neill, Leeman, Coates, McClean, Robinson, Watson, Heatley, Clarke, Adamson, McCutcheon, Owens. Subs: Magowan (for Coates, 57 minutes), Hanley, Caddell (for Adamson, 46 mins), McMaster, Snoddy (for Watson, 75 mins).
REFEREE: Mervyn Smyth (Belfast)