CLIFTONVILLE 2 IMMACULATA 0
Cliftonville made hard work of Amateur League visitors Immaculata but eventually made sure of Irish Cup progress thanks to second-half goals from James Knowles and Chris Curran
Home boss Gerard Lyttle made three changes to the side which drew with Warrenpoint Town on New Year’s Day, with Marc Smyth and George McMullan stepping in for Johnny Flynn and Ryan Catney, while Martin Donnelly was restored to the line-up with Davy McDaid and new boy Daniel Hughes sidelined through injury.
The Mac were not without telling absences of their own and had to make do minus the considerable talent of talismanic striker John Boyce – brother of former Reds ace Liam – who is on honeymoon but his team mates fared well in his absence throughout a first-half in which the hosts huffed and puffed.
Jay Donnelly and Curran were both denied for Cliftonville, who suffered a scare just before the interval when goalkeeper Conor Devlin had to deal with Sean McGovern’s free-kick.
Lyttle’s side stepped up the intensity after the interval and should have taken the lead when Jay Donnelly was presented with an open goal but, from point-blank range, he steered wide.
The breakthrough came in fortuitous circumstances when Knowles’ effort from the edge of the area took a telling deflection which gave keeper Gerard Smith no chance and the stopper could do little to prevent Curran from making it 2-0 12 minutes from time.
CLIFTONVILLE: Devlin, McGovern, Ives, Knowles, Curran, McMullan, Garrett, M Donnelly, Smyth, J Donnelly, Cosgrove. Subs: Flynn, McNicholl (Curran, 81 mins), Catney (McMullan, 89 mins), George (Garrett, 67 mins), Mooney.
IMMACULATA: Smith, B McGovern, Fisher, Largey, S McGovern, O’Riordan, Heagney, Carson, McGreevy, Adams, Oliver. Subs: Slane (McGreevy, 58 mins), McClenaghan (Carson, 80 mins), Rooney (B McGovern, 64 mins), K McGovern, Sullivan.
REFEREE: Andrew Davey (Bangor)