IRISH LEAGUE Cliftonville see off Portadown thanks to first-half firepower

Jude Winchester slides home Cliftonville's opening goal at Solitude against Portadown. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Jude Winchester slides home Cliftonville's opening goal at Solitude against Portadown. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

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Cliftonville fired home three first-half goals to secure three points at the expense of basement side Portadown.

Cliftonville played host to Portadown aiming to extend an 11-game winning sequence that included the same number of clean sheets.

In truth, an extension to the run always appeared the most likely outcome as Portadown struggled to compete with Cliftonville’s movement and tempo.

Ports boss Niall Currie shuffled his line-up in a bid to bolster the team’s bid for welcome points in the fight against relegation.

Injuries and suspensions left Currie was a new-look back four and Cliftonville managed to find a way past the backline on 11 minutes when Jay Donnelly’s delivery from the right was steered home by Jude Winchester.

Chris McGaughey clawed out of the top corner a curling free-kick effort by Martin Donnelly then Jay Donnelly’s snapshot drifted just wide of the near post.

However, a second arrived just past the half-hour mark as strong work along the left wing from Levi Ives ended with a close-range finish from Jay Donnelly.

A dangerous Shea McGerrigan free-kick from wide on the right offered a rare attacking threat from Portadown but Cliftonville entered the interval with a 3-0 lead and three points effectively wrapped up.

Chris Curran had turned away after his low drive appeared on course for a comfortable McGaughey save but the ball somehow found a way under the body of the Ports goalkeeper.

McGaughey produced second-half saves following neat control to find space by Daniel Hughes and two low drives from Martin Donnelly.

Portadown worked hard and engineered some positive passages of play but lacked a cutting edge to gain any consolation.

Cliftonville substitute David McDaid had an angled strike pushed on to the crossbar by McGaughey.

CLIFTONVILLE: Peter Burke, Jaimie McGovern, Levi Ives, Jason McGuinness, Chris Curran, Martin Donnelly, Daniel Hughes, Jude Winchester, Jay Donnelly, Tomas Cosgrove, Kym Nelson. Subs: Jason Mooney, David McDaid (J.Donnelly, 67), Ross Lavery, Paul Finnegan (McGuinness, 70), Aaron Haire (Winchester, 62).

PORTADOWN: Chris McGaughey, Jake Richardson, Mark Carson, Ken Oman, Garry Breen, Niall Henderson, Tim Mouncey, Robert Garrett, Shea McGerrigan, Adam Foley, Mark McAllister. Subs: Conor Larkin, Tiarnan Mulvenna (Mouncey, 33), Jackson Holmes (Foley, 80), Scott Megaw, Marcio Soares (McAllister, 82).

Referee: Steven Gregg.