CLIFTONVILLE 5 BALLINAMALLARD 0
A blistering nine-minute hat-trick from Liam Boyce helped Cliftonville put Ballinamallard United to the sword at Solitude on Saturday.
Boyce fired home his clinical treble in the first half as the Reds cruised to a 5-0 victory in north Belfast.
Joe Gormley and Chris Curran added further goals in the second half to wrap up a convincing win for the champions.
The victory keeps Tommy Breslin’s side two points behind Linfield at the top of the table with seven games remaining.
It was Boyce’s first competitive hat-trick for Cliftonville - and was the catalyst behind this commanding performance.
Cliftonville started brightly and almost claimed the lead in the 11th minute, but Gormley’s shot cannoned off the top of the crossbar.
The Reds made the breakthrough in the 29th minute, with Boyce’s low shot from the edge of the area finding the bottom corner of the net.
It was 2-0 on 36 minutes with Boyce coolly slotting past Rouse after being playing in by Chris Curran.
And the striker completed his hat-trick in the 38th minute, picking up Barry Johnston’s pass on the edge of the area before squeezing a low shot past Rouse.
Gormley made it 4-0 in the 57th minute, the striker outsmarting Steve Feeney before beating Rouse with a low shot from 10 yards.
Curran added to his former club’s misery in the 65th minute, the winger earning enough space inside the box before rifling a shot into the top corner.
Marc Smyth could have made it 6-0 but his header was cleared off the line by Steve Feeney.
CLIFTONVILLE: Devlin, McGovern, Johnston, McMullan, Donnelly (Garrett 69), Seydak, Smyth, Catney (Caldwell 70), Gormley, Curran, Boyce (O’Carroll 74).
Subs not used: Scannell, Murray.
BALLINAMALLARD: Rouse, Keohane, Stafford, Hutchinson (Currie 62), Crawford (Lecky 62), McCartney, Feeney, Beacom (Martin 69), McManus, Campbell, Crilly.
Subs not used: Murphy, Hill.
Referee: Colin Burns (Comber)