Cliftonville 1 Ballinamallard United 0
Davy McDaid scrambled a dramatic 95th minute winner as Cliftonville left it late to overcome Ballinamallard United’s stern resistance at Solitude.
The Reds were below par all afternoon but had nevertheless dominated possession; their first shot on target coming just two minutes before McDaid’s conversion.
Visiting keeper James McGrath had been a virtual spectator for the whole game and, though opposite number Peter Burke was rarely troubled, he did at least have to get down to make a save from Ryan Mayse in the first-half.
Gerard Lyttle’s side had grown more and more frustrated – more with themselves than anything else – before, in the depths of time added on, McDaid seized on a Jason McGuinness flick-on to clip the ball over McGrath and spark wild scenes of celebration in north Belfast.
CLIFTONVILLE: Burke, McGovern, Ives, McGuinness, Curran, Knowles, McDaid, M Donnelly, Catney, Winchester, Cosgrove. Subs: J Mooney, Bonner, Garrett (for Catney, 59 mins), Lavery (for Curran, 78 mins), G Donnelly.
BALLINAMALLARD: McGrath, McMenamin, Taheny, McCabe, McGinty, McKenna, McCartney, McConnell, Lecky, Mayse, Frempong. Subs: Lafferty (for McCabe, 73 mins) Morris (for McConnell, 83 mins), McIlwaine (for Lecky, 90 mins), Owens, Elliott.
REFEREE: Raymond Hetherington (Dungannon)