CLIFTONVILLE 1 CARRICK RANGERS 0
George McMullan lashed home an unstoppable strike as Cliftonville’s 100% start to the season continued with a deserved victory over Carrick Rangers.
Frustrated for long spells, the Reds finally pulled ahead when the skipper blasted home from distance on 73 minutes.
After Kyle Cherry had seen a chipped attempt gathered by home goalkeeper Peter Burke early on, Cliftonville exerted serious authority on proceedings and bossed proceedings with Martin Donnelly, James Knowles and McMullan all going close in the opening 17 minutes.
Carrick keeper Brian Neeson did well to frustrate Jay Donnelly after the Reds striker had charged Mark Surgenor’s attempted clearance down and the same player was denied again when his fierce volley crashed against Joe McNeill.
An acrobatic Gary Browne effort sailed wide in a rare Rangers forward foray ahead of Jay Donnelly missing out again; this time the combined efforts of a deflection and the post thwarting his ambition to find the net.
The breakthrough finally came on 73 minutes when Martin Donnelly’s cross was knocked down by Knowles and McMullan needed no second invitation to lash home from distance.
Haveron was dismissed from the touchline for his appeals in the aftermath of a rejected Miguel Chines’ penalty claim and then, deep into injury-time, Rangers came close to upsetting the Reds’ perfect start to the season when Cherry glanced a Chines free-kick onto the woodwork.
CLIFTONVILLE: Burke, Bonner, Flynn, Knowles, Curran, McMullan, McDaid, M Donnelly, Seydak, J Donnelly, Cosgrove. Subs: McGovern, Smyth, Catney (McMullan, 76 mins), Winchester (J Donnelly, 76 mins), Murray (Curran, 67 mins).
CARRICK: Neeson, Smyth, Traynor, Surgenor, Kelly, Harmon, McNeill, Cherry, Roy, McCloskey, Browne. Subs: Chines (Roy, 83 mins), Kane (McCloskey, 59 mins), Johnston, McKenna (Smyth, 76 mins), Miskimmin.
REFEREE: Raymond Hetherington (Dungannon)