Cliftonville win two on the bounce against Ballymena United

Cliftonville's Ronan Scannell with Ballymena's Eamonn McAllister'.
Cliftonville's Ronan Scannell with Ballymena's Eamonn McAllister'.

CLIFTONVILLE 1

BALLYMENA UTD 0

Cliftonville recorded back-to-back Premiership wins for the first time since November 29 as they edged past Ballymena United at Solitude.

Jude Winchester’s goal in the 75th minute was enough to earn a spirited 1-0 victory.

Winchester picked up James Knowles’ short corner before dispatching a superb strike into the corner of the net from the edge of the box.

The win keeps the champions 11 points adrift of leaders Crusaders - and just one point off the automatic European qualification spots.

The defeat ends Ballymena’s faint hopes of a top six finish this season.

Most of the action arrived following a timid first half where chances were at a premium.

Ballymena almost broke the deadlock in the 48th minute but Peter Cherrie tipped Gary Thompson’s shot over the bar.

From the resulting corner Eamonn McAllister had an effort blocked by Ronan Scannell.

David Cushley squandered a glorious chance to break the deadlock in the 60th minute, the midfielder pulling his shot wide after being played through by Jenkins.

At the other end substitute Johnny McMurray fired wide after being played in by Joe Gormley.

Johnny Taylor denied Gormley in the 74th minute, the defender deflecting the striker’s shot wide.

And from the resulting corner Cliftonville broke the deadlock.

The ball was played back to Winchester on the edge of the area, and he rifled an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner.

CLIFTONVILLE: Cherrie, Scannell (Cosgrove 76), McMullan, M. Donnelly (McMurray 68), Knowles, Smyth, Catney (J. Donnelly 25), Winchester, Gormley, Murray, Bonner.

Subs not used: McGovern, McCarron.

BALLYMENA: Allen, Ervin, McNally, Taylor, Ruddy, McAllister (Gawley 83), Kane, Thompson, Cushley (Teggart 68), McCutcheon (Boyce 83), Jenkins.

Subs not used: Tipton, Munster.

Referee: Evan Boyce (Ballygowan)