IRISH LEAGUE: Cliftonville too strong for Ballymena at Solitude

Cliftonville's Jude Winchester celebrates his goal.
Cliftonville's Jude Winchester celebrates his goal.


Goals in either half from James Knowles and Jude Winchester maintained Cliftonville’s good form at the expense of Ballymena United.

The visitors were not without chances of their own – indeed, home stopper Peter Burke earned the man of the match award – but the Reds did enough to get themselves over the line.

Having already seen a penalty appeal turned down by referee Tim Marshall, Cliftonville broke the deadlock when Knowles converted from the spot after Kyle Owens had blocked a Davy McDaid drive with a hand.

Burke’s smart save from Cathair Friel maintained the home side’s advantage early in the second period ahead of Winchester making it 2-0 when he touched McDaid’s in from close range.

Winchester and Friel exchanged chances before United’s Willie Faulkner was denied by the base of the post, with Friel smashing his follow-up wide.

Burke made another fantastic one-handed stop to thwart Fra McCaffrey as the visitors sought a route back into the contest but, try as they might, there was no way through as the Reds held on.

CLIFTONVILLE: Burke, Ives, Bonner, McGuinness, Knowles, McDaid, Garrett, Hughes, Harkin, Winchester, Cosgrove. Subs: Curran, M Donnelly (Winchester, 82 mins), Catney (Harkin, 45 mins), Lavery (Hughes, 71 mins), A Donnelly.

BALLYMENA: Glendinning, T Kane, Owens, Jenkins, McCloskey, Faulkner, Friel, Ervin, Millar, Loughran, McCracken. Subs: Lowry (Faulkner, 83 mins), McVey, Mackle (Friel, 80 mins), McCaffrey (McCloskey, 41 mins), McCauley.

REFEREE: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown)