Cliftonville 7 Bangor 1
Midfielder Gary Donnelly hit a hat-trick on his first start as Cliftonville left Bangor chasing shadows at Solitude on Tuesday night.
Having initially threatened the game entirely, a pre-match floodlight failure put kick-off back for 15 minutes but, once the action got underway, the Reds wasted little time in booking County Antrim Shield progress; Jay Donnelly, Davy McDaid and Ross Lavery also on target in addition to a second-half own goal from the Seasiders.
Visiting keeper Darren Gibbons twice thwarted Martin Donnelly during the opening exchanges, while Daniel Hughes saw a fine solo run ended with a last-gasp intervention from Noel Halfpenny.
There was a certain inevitability about Cliftonville breaking the deadlock and it duly happened when Jay Donnelly touched home from Hughes’ 14th minute cross and, just five minutes later, Gary Donnelly’s bullet header doubled the hosts’ advantage.
Ethan Knipe was unlucky not to reduce the arrears with a free-kick that clipped the post but, within 60 seconds of that effort, the ball was in the net at the other end when Martin Donnelly’s quick free-kick was nodded down by Caoimhin Bonner and Gary Donnelly pounced to bank his second of the night.
He completed his hat-trick with a 54th minute penalty and, after Davy McDaid had emerged from the bench to make it 5-0, a Bangor own goal – via a combination of Brett Widdowson and Keith Armstrong – extended the hosts’ advantage further.
Ross Lavery dispatched number seven with three minutes remaining but it was Bangor who would have the final say on the night’s scoring when Gerard McMullan first won and then converted a spot-kick for a late consolation.
CLIFTONVILLE: Burke, McGovern, Bonner, Curran, M Donnelly, Hughes, Seydak, Catney, J Donnelly, Cosgrove, G Donnelly. Subs: Ives, Knowles, McDaid (for Hughes, 58 mins), Winchester (For J Donnelly, 69 mins), Lavery (for M Donnelly, 58 mins).
BANGOR: Gibbons, Long, Calvert, Widdowson, Armstrong, Walsh, Knipe, Halfpenny, Beattie, Patton, McMullan. Subs: Craig (for Patton, 65 mins), Dalzell (for Beattie, 46 mins), Edgar, Mulgrew (for Knipe, 71 mins), Lucas.
REFEREE: Raymond Crangle (Belfast)