Joe Gormley at the double as Cliftonville close the gap
Cliftonville put their Irish Cup disappointment behind them as they moved to within one point of Danske Bank Premiership leaders Linfield thanks to this 2-0 win at Portadown.
Talisman Joe Gormley did the business for the Reds once again as he scored in either half to make sure Paddy McLaughlin’s men kept the pressure on in the title race.
The Reds should have broken the deadlock on 16 minutes as Daniel Kearns fed Paul O’Neill, but his near-post effort was parried by Jethren Barr. The loose ball was recycled to Levi Ives on the edge of the box, but his shot was blocked by the Ports defence.
Stephen Teggart tried his luck from distance for the hosts but it was never troubling the visitors’ goal.
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They went closer on 26 minutes as Adam Salley tried his luck with a volley from a tight angle, and he was inches away from a spectacular opener.
O’Neill had another effort blocked before the half hour thanks to a combination of Barr and Greg Hall.
Gormley then had an effort pushed away by the home keeper before he opened the scoring seconds later.
The front man read Jonny Addis’ long ball perfectly to loop a header over the advancing Barr.
Ives felt he should have had a penalty 10 minutes before half-time after a tussle with Teggart but referee Ross Dunlop was unmoved.
Portadown should have drawn themselves level before the break as that man Salley spurned two opportunities.
First he headed over Hall’s cross before he sliced a shot well wide minutes later.
O’Neill was first to threaten again after the restart, but Barr smothered his shot.
The Ports though were still carrying an attacking threat as Billy Steadman glanced a header wide of the target.
At the other end Gormley fired wide of the target as the visitors looked for the crucial second goal.
And they didn’t have long to wait as that man Gormley wrapped up the game with 17 minutes left to play.
Ryan Curran’s clever knock down allowed Gormley to lash the ball into the top corner from eight yards out.
The striker almost completed his hat-trick on 79 minutes but his shot was deflected wide of the target by Hall as McLaughlin’s men went on to pick up all three points.