Ards 0 Cliftonville 3
Goals from Martin Donnelly, David McDaid and Stephen Garrett last night helped write Cliftonville into the record books.
Gerard Lyttle’s boys became the first team to win the JBE League Cup for the fourth successive year following a hard fought win over Ards at Solitude.
It could have been a lot easier because McDaid shamefully had a penalty kick saved by Ards goalkeeper Ryan Brown in first half injury time.
But it hardly mattered. The Reds are becoming accustomed to popping the bubbly in this tournament.
Following a totally forgettable opening period, the game at last itnited as Cliftonville began to make their domination count.
Indeed, they were almost presented with an opening goal on 27 minutes when Denver Gage’s loose clearance was picked up by David McDaid, whose 25 yard drive inched just past the post.
Ards lived in their nerves again three minutes later when McDaid skipped past Thomas Lambe on the left before seeing his shot whacked off the line by Greg Hall.
But it was Ards that missed the best chance on 34 minutes when Hall sent in a super ball which was met by Jordan Baker, whose header failed to hit the target.
And, they were punished for that miss 60 seconds later when Marty Donnelly cut in from the right before firing home a beauty.
It really could have been worse for Ards as James Knowles missed a glorious chance with a free header following another great delivery from Martin Donnelly.
But the Reds missed the chance of piling on the agony seconds before the break when Martin Donnelly’s corner kick was handled by Thomas Lambe and referee Andrew Davey awarded a penalty kick. McDaid stepped up to see his drive saved brillianty by Ryan Brown.
Cliftonville went looking for an early killer second goal after the break and they were almost gifted that opening when Gage’s howler let in Jay Donnelly, whose clever lob left Brown helpless, but Gage managed to get back to clear.
McDaid then scooped a great pass from Chris Curran over the top before the action burst to the other end with David McAllister sending Baker clear, but Conor Devlin produced a telling save.
But the Reds struck again on 62 minutes. Curran was the architect providing the chance for Knowles, whose shot appeared to be creeping wide, but McDaid popped up at the back post to convert.
Ards were almost back into it seconds later when Baker’s header squeezed past Conor Devlin, but defender Marc Smyth managed to hoof the ball off the line.
The Reds sealed the deal seven minutes from time when substitute Garrett picked up a return pass from Tomas Cosgrave before rifling the ball past Brown.
Ards: Brown, Hall, Gage, Cully, Lambe, Dorrian (O’Neill 46), McMillen (E McAllister 73), Arthurs, D McAllister (Warick 83), Baker, Carson.
Subs not used: Convery, Browne.
Cliftonville: Devlin, Cosgrove, Smyth, McGovern (Flynn 77), Ives, M Donnelly, Catney, Knowles, Curran (George 86), J Donnelly, McDaid (Garrett 81).
Subs not used: Bonner, Mooney.
Referee: A Davey (Bangor).