IRISH LEAGUE: Gerard Lyttle delighted with clean sheet as Cliftonville earn 1-0 win over Portadown

Cliftonville's Jay Donnelly skips past Robert Garrett
Cliftonville's Jay Donnelly skips past Robert Garrett

With so much focus applied to Cliftonville’s new-found wealth of attacking options, it was a second consecutive clean sheet that had boss Gerard Lyttle beaming in the aftermath of Saturday’s defeat of Portadown.

Jay Donnelly’s 33rd minute header proved decisive as the Reds clocked up a ninth consecutive victory over Ronnie McFall’s side to remain in second place in the table ahead of a three-week hiatus from Danske Bank Premiership action.

“We’ve strengthened really well during the transfer window and I now have a serious headache when it comes to picking a team, especially up front,” said Lyttle.

“Darren Murray couldn’t play today because of an agreement between the clubs but he’ll be available again next week, which will give me even more of a problem but a brilliant one to have.

“Jay has started today and Daniel (Hughes) did really well on his first start, then we were able to bring Davy (McDaid) off the bench after his injury so we have plenty of options and they give me plenty to think about when I can’t sleep on a Thursday and Friday night.

“Our aim was to win this match and keep a clean sheet – so it’s job done. It might not have been the prettiest and it would have been nice to have added another goal or two just to make things a wee bit more comfortable for ourselves, but I always felt we were in control of things.

“Portadown had a good spell where they put us under a bit of pressure in the second-half and I was pleased with how we stood up to that. Last week’s was our first clean sheet in I don’t know how long, so to back it up with another is very pleasing.

“That’s an aspect of our game we have worked very hard on and I think it’s shown out on the pitch; you can see the boys are determined not to concede.”