Reds hoping to flip the formbook

BUILDING BLOCKS...Cliftonville will hope to build on last weekend's late winner from Jay Donnelly Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
By Padraig Kelly

CLIFTONVILLE will hoping to flip the recent formbook when they welcome Coleraine to Solitude this afternoon.

The Reds had a very bad record against Oran Kearney's side last season as they picked up just one point from a possible 12 in the league. The Bannsiders also got the better of them in May's Irish Cup final as they triumphed 3-1 at Windsor Park.

Early season optimism is a great leveller though and Barry Gray's team will be on a high following last weekend's dramatic 2-1 win away to Glentoran.

They had trailed at the break, but goals from Joe Gormley and Jay Donnelly – the latter of those in additional time – sparked wild scenes in the away end.

“We hope to bring the confidence of the injury-time winner into this game and hopefully we'll make it two wins from two,” Liam Bagnall told the Cliftonville website ahead of today's clash.

They may have needed a late strike to take the points but there was no denying that Gray's side were the dominant force at the Oval with Chris Curran in particular creating a host of chances that his teammates failed to convert. It goes without saying that they will have to be more clinical today.

Coleraine, who lost just one league game last year and still came up shy of a first Gibson Cup since 1974, also got off to a winning start last weekend as they eased to a 3-0 home win against Warrenpoint Town.

Kearney was without 10 players for various reasons but goals from Ian Parkhill, Stephen Lowry and Eoin Bradley secured a comfortable win.

Injury is still ruling out Lyndon Kane and James McLaughlin today while Stephen O'Donnell is suspended. A number of key players, such as Adam Mullan, Brad Lyons and Jamie McGonigle, will be available for selection though.

Elsewhere, Warrenpoint will be aiming to bounce back from last week's loss as they welcome Glenavon to Milltown.

Stephen McDonnell's side were second best last week, although they weren't helped by goalkeeper Johnny Parr's huge blunder that allowed Coleraine in for an easy third goal.

Glenavon are also aiming to get off the mark after paying the penalty – literally – at home to Linfield last week. Andrew Mitchell had the chance to put them ahead from the spot early on but he skied his kick and Linfield would go on to win 1-0.

One of the most impressive performances on the opening weekend came from Ballymena United who won 2-0 away to Dungannon Swifts.

Problems with their pitch means that they are again on the road as they travel to take on champions Crusaders. The Seaview outfit started their defence with a 4-2 home win against Ards on Monday night.

Today's other match will see Glentoran travelling to Ards.

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