Cliftonville go top after beating Ballymena United

Ballymena's Mark Surgenor with Cliftonville's Barry Johnston
Ballymena's Mark Surgenor with Cliftonville's Barry Johnston


Champions Cliftonville returned to the top of the Danske Bank Premiership with a 3-1 win at Ballymena.

Cliftonville enjoyed near dominance in the opening period with United goalkeeper Aaron Shanahan proving a stubborn opponent, blocking efforts from Reds strikers Liam Boyce and Joe Gormley.

But instead in was United who took the lead in freak circumstances a minute before the break when keeper Conor Devlin misjudged a Tony Kane corner in the swirling wind and could only punch the ball into his own net to give the home side the lead.

It was a lead which lasted just over 90 seconds, however, as in first half stoppage time, Cliftonville equalised when Martin Donnelly’s free kick from the right flank glanced off the head of Mark Surgenor and ended up in the net.

Cliftonville moved in front five minutes after the break when Joe Gormley scored from the penalty spot after United defender Johnny Taylor had been adjudged to have brought the striker down as he closed in on goal.

After Darren Boyce had headed a good chance wide for Ballymena, Cliftonville clinched victory when Martin Donnelly found the net with a deflected effort from 16 yards.

Ballymena United: Shanahan, Ervin, Munster (sub Lowry 84), Taylor, McBride, Surgenor, Kane, Thompson (sub McLellan 79), Teggart (sub McCullagh 52), Davidson, Boyce. Subs (not used): Taggart, Ruddy.

Cliftonville: Devlin, McMullan, Smyth, Scannell, Seydak, Curran (sub Caldwell 79), Johnston (sub Winshester 83), Catney, Donnelly, Gormley, Boyce (sub O’Carroll 34). Subs (not used): Murray, Doherty.

Referee: Colin Burns (Comber).