Honours even for Cliftonville from Europa League date with Barry Town United

Cliftonville boss Paddy McLaughlin. Pic by Pacemaker.
Cliftonville boss Paddy McLaughlin. Pic by Pacemaker.
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Cliftonville will welcome Barry Town United to Belfast next week with Europa League progress hanging on home form.

A scoreless draw in Cardiff has left the outcome of the preliminary round first-leg tie in the balance before a clash at Solitude.

Reds boss Paddy McLaughlin cited hard work as key ahead of Cliftonville’s trip to Wales and a spirited performance left the game blank at the final whistle in front of over 2,100 fans.

Luke Cooper proved commanding under early Cliftonville pressure, with a Rory Donnelly header clearing the crossbar and Mike Lewis alert between the posts.

Jon Hood’s looping volley offered an indication of the Barry attacking threat but Cliftonville continued to press and Jack Compton was on hand to hack away the danger from inside the area.

Jordan Cotterill displayed clever control but could only secure a corner-kick - with the Reds then frustrated in the Barry box after a brave Cooper block.

Hood raced on to collect a Kayne McLaggon pass before half-time but Richard Brush enjoyed a solid save.

An acrobatic effort by Donnelly marked an early second-half chance then Conor McDermott’s effort from distance proved high.

A strong second-half display by the visitors served to increase the pressure without a reward, with Conor McMenamim and Donnelly each close.

Luke Cummings’ block was decisive to keep the scoreline blank, with Barry frustrated as captain Cotterill could not capitalise on smart play by substitute Drew Fahiya.

An injury-time free-kick delivery into the penalty area proved beyond substitute Ryan Curran.

BARRY TOWN UNITED: Lewis, Hugh, Cooper, Patten (Hiscock Greening, 72), McLaggon, Cotterill (Fry, 82), Cummings, Compton (Fahiya, 72), Hood, Green, Press. Subs (not used): Ratcliffe, Morgan, Watkins, Snaith.

CLIFTONVILLE: Brush, McDermott (Maguire, 96), Ives, Breen, Curran, Harkin, Donnelly, Bagnall, Doherty (Gormley, 79), McMenamin (R.Curran, 83), Gorman. Subs (not used): Dunne, Harney, Foster, Wilson,