JBE LEAGUE CUP: Cliftonville stay on course for fourth successive cup success

Cliftonville's Ryan Catney's ball finds the back of the net
Cliftonville's Ryan Catney's ball finds the back of the net

Holders Cliftonville are still on course for a record-breaking fourth successive JBE League Cup success.

Gerard Lyttle’s boys marched into the semi finals following this thrilling 3-2 win over Glentoran at a blustry Solitude.

Strikes from David McDaid, Ryan Catney and an own goal from Steven McCullough in a devastating eight minute second half blast, ensured the Reds would be in the weekend draw.

Defender Johnny Addis shot the Glens into a first half lead while Curtis gave the Alan Kernaghan’s team hope by hitting a second after that Reds triple whammy, but the striker was then dismissed after picking up his second yellow card of the game.

Cliftonville haven’t tasted defeat in this tournament since December, 2011 - and it’s going to take something special to derail their ambitions of making it four in a row.

The Glens roared into the lead on 12 minutes, courtesy of a wind assisted Jonathan Smith corner kick which swirled viciously before bouncing into the path of Addis, off Jay Donnelly, and the big defender rammed the ball home from four yards.

But the game exploded for all the wrong reasons on 17 minutes. Allen clashed with goalkeeper Conor Devlin, which developed into a ‘free-for-all’ in the Cliftonville net.

When the dust settled, referee Ross Dunlop produced yellow cards for Allen, Willie Garrett and Tomas Cosgrove.

Glentoran again tried to benefit from the gusting wind with Stephen Gordon trying his luck from distance that Devlin was relieved to see flash past the post.

The visitors threatened on 28 minutes. Addis’ free kick was headed across the face of the goal by Barry Holland, but Stevie Gordon shamefully blasted his shot wide.

Glentoran almost struck again on 29 minutes. Curtis Allen took off on an a brilliant solo dash into the penalty area. His shot was helped on by Stephen McAlorum and Fra McCaffrey looked a certain scorer until big Johnny Flynn popped up to block the effort on the line.

Cliftonville at last began to threaten at the other end, but had to wait until 32 minutes for their first effort at goal. Catney’s clever free kick sent Chris Curran scampering down the left and his vicious drive was brilliantly tipped over the top by Elliott Morris.

Then two minutes later McDaid picked the pocket of defender Garrett, but when he bared down on goal, Morris got down superbly to pluck the ball off the striker’s toe.

Garrett went down clutching his right knee, which ultimately led to him being carried off, replaced by Jim O’Hanlon.

The Reds were level nine minutes into the second half. Young defender Levi Ives sent in a teasing cross to the back post that caused mayhem in the Glens defence and McDaid popped up to poke home at the back post.

They struck again four minutes with a Catney cracker - a contender for goal of the season. He burst into the Glentoran half and let fly from 30 yards and the ball arrowed into the top corner.

And, the game was over as a contest on 62 minutes. Ciaran Caldwell hauled down the flying Chris Curran just outside the penalty area. Jude Winchester fired in the free kick which was hoofed into his own net by Stephen McCullough.

The Glens were not finished. McCaffrey made ground down the right and crossed for Allen, who finished at the near post.

But visiting team’s hopes of forcing extra time went down the tubes 17 minutes from time when Allen was dismissed following a silly hand ball offence -- his second yellow card of the game.