Cliftonville won 4-0 against Institute at Solitude after an early goal from Jay Donnelly and a hattrick from Joe Gormley in the second half.
‘Stute had regained form before this match in 1-1 draws against Crusaders and Glenavon, while the Reds lost 2-0 versus Coleraine last week.
Paul Kee’s team stayed mainly unchanged, Martin Gallagher remaining in nets ahead of Eugene Ferry, but departing Stephen O’Flynn missed out.
Cliftonville quickly threatened when after 3 minutes Gormley broke free ahead of Stephen O’Donnell, but his attempted lob was misfired wide.
The scoreline opened on 5 minutes when Martin Donnelly’s pass found Jay Donnelly who fired into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Institute could’ve been further behind when a long pass by Martin Donnelly found Gormley in space, but the frontman’s shot hit the woodwork.
The Sky Blues had a hopeful opportunity when Cormac Burke launched at Conor Devlin’s top corner from range, but the keeper made a good save.
Next Gallagher was called into action as Jay Donnelly found himself free before goal, and the net-minder got down well to stop his low shot.
Paul McVeigh was lively for ‘Stute in attack, but things became more difficult for the visitors when Declan McKeever exited with an injury.
Institute had a lucky escape when the ball rebounded to Gormley inside the box after he forced an initial save, but the forward struck wide.
HT: Cliftonville 1-0 Institute
As the second half began it was immediately clear that the home team were going to take the driving seat, despite Institute’s best attempts.
Tomás Cosgrove and Ryan Catney threatened when they linked up inside the box, but Graham Crown ended the threat with a last ditch challenge.
The second half deadlock was broken after 10 minutes, Davy McDaid assisted Gormley who slotted the ball perfectly into bottom, right corner.
Joe Gormley was played into the penalty area again, this time by Martin Donnelly, however his shot was scuffed and dragged wide of the post.
Cliftonville continued to press, George McMullan laying off Jay Donnelly for a shot, but it was well held by out-stretched Martin Gallagher.
Gallagher couldn’t prevent the next chance though as Gormley, met by Ronan Scannell’s pass, blasted into the bottom corner after 60 minutes.
7 minutes later the scoreline was extended by another goal, Gormley converting a carbon copy of his last finish, assisted by Tomás Cosgrove.
‘Stute didn’t give up, and Aaron Walsh slotted Stephen Curry into the box on 75 minutes, but Devlin pushed Curry’s strike over the crossbar.
Substitute Ronan Doherty created a threat late on, the midfielder’s shot was saved and cleared off the line, before a follow up was blocked.
This result hasn’t changed the league standings of either team as they rest in 2nd and 10th place, but the gap at the bottom remains narrow.
FT: Cliftonville 4-0 Institute
After the game, Institute First Team Coach Brian Donaghey said:
“When you come to the home of the champions you don’t expect it to be easy, but they didn’t have to work as hard for the goals as they should have today.”
“These are the places you have to come to and stand up but we didn’t threaten their goal as often as we should have, and we just didn’t have the cutting edge.”
“They have the likes of Joe Gormley and you can see why he’s the leading goalscorer, he’s lethal and goals change games, and I think it was one of those games.”
“We’ll dust ourselves down and get at it again, now we are looking forward to next Saturday against Ballymena and to Boxing Day against Warrenpoint.”
Cliftonville: Conor Devlin, Jaimie McGovern, Ronan Scannell, Johnny Flynn (calf strain 64′), David McDaid (70′), Martin Donnelly, Ryan Catney, Jude Winchester (75′), Joe Gormley, Jay Donnelly, Tomás Cosgrove
Subs: James Knowles (75′), Eamonn Seydak (70′), Martin Murray, George McMullan, Tiarnan Mulvenna (64′)
Institute: Martin Gallagher, Paddy McLaughlin, Stephen O’Donnell, Dean Curry, Graham Crown, Declan McKeever (31′), Aaron Walsh, Cormac Burke, Stephen Curry, Paul McVeigh, Robbie Hume (64′)
Subs: Mark Scoltock, Eugene Ferry, Lee Toland (31′), Mark Forker, Ronan Doherty (64′)
Referee: Raymond Hetherington (Dungannon)
This article is sponsored by W & J Chambers, Drumahoe, County Derry/Londonderry.
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