Joe Gormley wonder goal cements Cliftonville’s Premiership title ambitions

SMOKIN' JOE: Joe Gormley celebrates his winner
SMOKIN' JOE: Joe Gormley celebrates his winner

A wonder goal from Joe Gormley helped Cliftonville surge 14 points clear at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership table.

Gormley fired home in the 70th minute to seal a 1-0 win over Ballinamallard United at Ferney Park.

It was the latest statement of intent from the Reds who capitalised on Crusaders’ slip-up to extend their lead at the summit.

Tommy Breslin’s men now have nine games standing between them and a first title in 15 years.

Captain George McMullan admitted Gormley’s sensational strike was a fitting winner on a testing afternoon.

“It was one of those wonder goals that is needed to win games like this and he took it very well,” McMullan said.

“We always know we are going to score goals and this season we have worked hard on a solid base at the back. If these type of goals don’t win you a league then what will?”

Both sides had chances on Saturday.

Home keeper Alvin Rouse denied Stephen Garrett before Cliftonville’s Conor Devlin pulled off a fine triple-save at the other end.

Devlin pushed a Jason McCartney effort onto the bar before Gormley’s goal on 70 minutes – the striker rifling into the top corner from 25 yards.

McMullan believes Cliftonville are more then capable of proving their mettle from now to the end of the season.

“We knew Ballinamallard would be a difficult place to come,” he added.

“It really could have been 4-4 in the first half. They kept opening us up. They have a lot of pace and strong players for their set pieces.”

Ballinamallard manager Whitey Anderson felt his side could have had a share of the spoils.

“I think we played the champions today but my boys put in a fantastic effort. We haven’t scored in four games though and that is worrying,” he said.

“The goal that won it was a wonderful strike. That’s what beat us today, but if we go into our next three games with that spirit we will collect enough points to make the top six.”

Only excellent goalkeeping from Devlin kept the Reds level, the Solitude stopper first saving from Ryan Campbell before keeping out two McCartney strikes.

The only goal of the game was sheer class from Gormley, the striker flicking the ball up 25 yards out, before firing across keeper Rouse and into the net.