IRISH LEAGUE: Cliftonville strong in second half to see off Ports

Alan Byrne. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Alan Byrne. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Cliftonville scored three goals at Shamrock Park across a slick final half-hour run to add to Portadown’s problems in a 3-0 defeat.

Cliftonville looked sharp early on but Garry Breen and goalkeeper Chris McGaughey combined to prevent Jude Winchester from breaking the deadlock.

Jason Mooney produced a superb save to push Breen’s close-range effort on to the post and the Cliftonville number one was also alert to stop at a stretch Matthew Parker’s long-range drive.

Stephen Hughes came close to capping a slick Ports team move with the opening goal but his low angled shot flashed wide of the post.

Portadown wrapped up the first half with another dangerous attack after Hughes won back possession and Parker’s left-wing cross was hooked over by Brendan Shannon, with the ball appearing to bounce off the post.

Aaron Haire and Hughes carved out an opening for Robert Garrett after the interval but his off-balance header lacked direction.

However, the visitors placed Portadown under pressure across the second half and only a superb save by McGaughey stopped Daniel Hughes from a few yards off Tomas Cosgrove’s cross, with Jay Donnelly blasting wide at the far post.

The pressure produced an end product on 58 minutes when James Knowles’ corner-kick dropped in the packed penalty area and Jason McGuinness smashed home the loose ball.

Portadown’s problems continued on 75 minutes when Cliftonville doubled the advantage as Breen and Mark Carson slid in to cut out a ball in the penalty area but Winchester reacted first to cut the ball back for substitute David McDaid to convert.

Cliftonville capped the afternoon with a superb third goal in injury-time as substitute Stephen Garrett found the top corner of the net from the edge of the penalty area within seconds of joining the match.

PORTADOWN: Chris McGaughey, Mark Carson, Adam Rodgers, Keith O’Hara, Garry Breen, Alan Byrne, Robert Garrett, Brendan Shannon, Aaron Haire, Stephen Hughes, Matthew Parker. Subs: David Miskelly, Sam Simpson (O’Hara, 71), Nathaniel Ferris (Parker, 80), Niall Henderson, Eoin Kirwan (Hughes, 80).

CLIFTONVILLE: Jason Mooney, Jaimie McGovern, Leui Ives, Jason McGuinness, James Knowles, Martin Donnelly, Daniel Hughes, Ruairi Harkin, Jude Winchester, Jay Donnelly, Tomas Cosgrove. Subs: Caoimhin Bonner, Chris Curran, David McDaid (Hughes, 70), Stephen Garrett (J.Donnelly, 90), Gary Donnelly (Harkin, 70).

Referee: A.Utmans.