CLIFTONVILLE 5 LISBURN DISTILLERY 0
Cliftonville set up a north Belfast derby in the quarter-finals of the County Antrim Shield after putting five unanswered goals past Lisburn Distillery at Solitude.
Three weeks on from eliminating the same opponents from the League Cup, the Reds booked a last-eight date with Crusaders at Seaview thanks to goals from Ryan Catney, Jay Donnelly, a Joe Gormley double and Ryan Curran’s late strike.
After Gormley had nodded an early attempt over the bar, the Whites came close to taking a shock lead when Paul Young and Jonathan McCaw combined to tee up Nick Beta, whose point-blank header was straight at goalkeeper Brian Neeson.
The overwhelming majority of action took place at the other end of the park, where Gormley endured a torrid time.
Six goals shy of Cliftonville’s goalscoring record, he could well have hit the milestone last night were it not for a combination of poor fortune and smart goalkeeping.
First, he glanced a close-range header wide of the mark and, after Jaimie McGovern had wellied a strike into the side netting, Gormley found himself off target when another Curran delivery had provided him with an open net.
The deadlock was broken when Neeson’s inch-perfect pass set Curran free down the right and his cutback picked out Catney; who rifled in off the underside of the crossbar from 22 yards.
Donnelly would make it 2-0 with a well-placed drive soon later before Gormley’s woes continued when Nicholl kept him at bay yet again.
Ryan Curran and Conor McDonald each went close to extending Cliftonville’s advantage and, early in the second period, Gormley twice saw opportunities go to waste before Nicholl’s outrageous save stopped McDonald from converting the rebound after Jamie Harney had struck the bar.
The third goal eventually arrived on 62 minutes when Ross Lavery cut in from the flank and picked out Gormley, who showed neat feet to sidestep his marker and fire home.
A similarly composed finish made it 4-0 soon later and the scoring was complete three minutes from time when Conor McMenamin set Gormley through on goal and, though he found the angle too tight after dodging the challenge of Nicholl, Ryan Curran was perfectly placed to take advantage.
CLIFTONVILLE: Neeson, McGovern, Ives, Harney, C Curran, R Curran, McDonald, Catney, Gormley, J Donnelly, McNulty. Subs: McConnell (C Curran, 68 mins), Lavery (McNulty, 46 mins), Maguire, McMenamin (J Donnelly, 63 mins), A Donnelly.
DISTILLERY: Nicholl, Corry, Curran, Moore, Reid, Wright, McMurtry, Harrison, Beta, McCaw, Young. Subs: Kennedy, Harris (Harrison, 64 mins), Dugan (Young, 69 mins), Ferguson (Beta, 63 mins), O’Hanlon.
REFEREE: Evan Boyce (Ballygowan)