Leaders Reds race 12 points clear

Leaders Reds race 12 points clear

Cliftonville could not be blown off course on Tuesday as they battled through gales to defeat Coleraine and move a massive 12 points clear at the top of the Premiership.

The Reds romped to an easy 5-0 victory over the Bannsiders at a wind lashed and bitterly cold Solitude to enforce their seemingly unstoppable race to the title.

Conditions were harsh for both sides but Coleraine's bid to stifle the home team took an early blow when the Reds took the lead when a cross from Ryan Catney was turned into his own net by the unfortunate Aaron Canning with just three minutes on the clock.

It got even tougher for the away side as they paid the penalty for sitting back and allowing the Reds to come at them when Liam Boyce fired in his 26th goal of the season after being set up by Stephen Garrett and Catney on 17 minutes.

Coleraine did respond with Hegarty and Boyce both having efforts on goal without any joy.

George McMullen almost added a third for the home side when he tried his luck from 25 yards out but his free kick just flew over the bar.

Then Joe Gormley thought he had found the net with a deft touch in the box but Canning managed to clear the ball off the line. The pressure continued in the next attack with O'Carroll cutting inside and his long range shot was brilliantly kept out by Michael Doherty.

The Reds were so much on top it was no surprise they made it 3-0 when Gormley ended another flowing move with an angled drive past Doherty on 40 minutes.

Cliftonville were unable to match their dominance of the first half early in the second period while Coleraine did make a fight of it but despite having more of the ball they rarely trouble Devlin in the home goal.

The best chance to pull a goal back came on the hour mark when a Paul Owens free kick found the head of Curtis Allen but his effort lacked pace to trouble the keeper.

At the other end Boyce went on a direct run on goal beating two players before he was brought down by Ogilby just outside the area and from the free kick Seydak smashed the ball straight at keeper Doherty.

Another slick move from the Reds did gain reward when Boyce rolled the ball into the path of
Garrett and his right foot shot flew into the net with seven minutes to go.

There was still time for man of the match Boyce to set up the fifth and final goal with defender Seydak applying a fantastic finish.

Garrett could have made it six right on the whistle but his shot rebounded off the upright.

The game at Solitude was the only match to go ahead on Tuesday after three others were postponed following pitch inspections.

Glentoran v Dungannon Swifts and Lisburn Distillery v Crusaders games were called off following lunchtime inspections.

The Ballymena v Donegal Celtic match was postponed with just an hour before kick-off.

Cliftonville 5-0 Coleraine
Cliftonville: Canning og 3, Boyce 17, Gormley 40, Garrett 86, Seydak 89.

Cliftonville: Devlin, McGovern, Johnston, McMullan, Garrett, O'Carroll, Seydak, Catney, Gormley, McVeigh, Boyce. Subs: Caldwell, Donnelly, Lynch, Cosgrove, Knowles.

Coleraine: Doherty, Beverland, Hegarty, McVey, Scullion, Allen, Harkin, McIlmoyle, Canning, Boyce, Tomelty. Subs: Ogilby, Watt, Jennings, Owens, McMullen.

Referee: Raymond Heatherington.


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