Cliftonville close gap at the top despite Stephen McMullan's heroics

Cliftonville moved to within a point of Danske Bank Premiership leaders Linfield after a 1-0 win over Warrenpoint Town at Solitude.

By Steven Crawford
Tuesday, 22nd February 2022, 10:12 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd February 2022, 10:14 pm

The Reds dominated proceedings but were denied a more convincing win over the basement side thanks to an inspired performance by teenage goalkeeper Stephen McMullan.

The young stopper produced several impressive saves to deny the hosts a more comfortable victory in a game which they were in total control of from start to finish.

Both sides were left kicking their heels in frustration at the weekend as their games fell foul to the stormy weather.

Luke Turner wheels away in celebration after putting Cliftonville ahead against Warrenpoint Town

Paddy McLaughlin went with the same starting eleven which defeated Coleraine 2-0 in the last outing.

For the visitors Jonny Leddy came in for Luke Gallagher from the side which lost their last game, ironically also against the Bannsiders last Tuesday night.

The hosts dominated possession in the opening 20 minutes and they were only denied an opener thanks to a superb save from Stephen McMullan.

He got down well to keep out Jamie McDonagh’s header after Rory Hale had picked him out in the box.

Cliftonville continued to have the better of the ball as the half progressed.

Luke Turner did have the ball in the net midway through the half but it was ruled out for offside.

The visitors first opportunity fell to Dylan Hand but his shot was well blocked by the home defence.

McMullan produced another good save as the game moved towards half time.

But he was left helpless as the Reds made their dominance tell two minute before the break.

A short corner found McDonagh on the edge of the box. His clipped cross picked out Ryan Curran, whose header crashed off the bar, but Turner was on hand to head home from close range.

The second half continued in a similar vein with the hosts dominating for large spells.

Joe Gormley was introduced from the bench and forced McMullan into another good save just past the hour mark.

And the keeper was at it again with 15 minutes to go denying the striker with another great save.

In a rare sortie into the opposition’s half the ‘Point forced a free kick on 77 minutes.

Stewart Hutchinson got on the end of the set piece but he couldn’t direct his header towards goal.

The young keeper produced two more superb saves in the dying minutes as the Reds pushed for a second goal.

In the end though Turner’s goal before half-time was enough to give McLaughlin’s men a much easier victory than the score line would suggest.

The result though now means the Reds are within touching distance at the top of the league ahead of this Saturday’s north Belfast derby with Crusaders.

For Warrenpoint Town they will take the positives out of the game despite the defeat.

Saturday’s crucial meeting with Portadown gives Barry Gray’s side the opportunity to move off the foot of the table with a victory at Shamrock Park.