Cliftonville sparkle in derby defeat of Crusaders

Cliftonville's Ben Wilson celebrates his goal in Saturday's derby day victory over Crusaders at Solitude                                    PICTURE: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker
Cliftonville's Ben Wilson celebrates his goal in Saturday's derby day victory over Crusaders at Solitude PICTURE: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker

CLIFTONVILLE sparkled against Crusaders in the north Belfast derby at Solitude on Saturday, their comfortable victory studded with fine performances.

Joe Gormley justified his manager’s decision to start him with the opening goal, Rory Hale feathered home the second and Ben Wilson came off the bench to rediscover his scoring boots with a clinical finish late on.

Ronan Hale had a hand in two of the goals, Johnny Addis cruised through the game at the back and there was a full supporting cast to easily sweep their neighbours aside.

The Crues struggled to get purchase in the game and were not as sharp as the Reds.

Cliftonville boss Jim Magilton revealed his delight at his team’s performance and had particular praise for left wing-back Stephen Mallon, who has been through a trying time on and off the pitch, but ripped Solitude up in the first half.

“Believe it or not, that’s the first time he has played in three consecutive games in four years,” said the former Ipswich Town manager.

“To come through that takes unbelievable resilience and character, so he deserves all the plaudits, he had a great first half.

“You have to think about where that lad has been and what he’s had to go through – personally as well.

“He’s lost his brother and he’s had to deal with so much and to have that character to be able to come back and play is huge, and it says an awful lot about him

“I thought the intensity in our play was great, with and without the ball.

“We acted really quickly when we didn’t have the ball and I thought we looked really dangerous when we did have it, it’s as simple as that.

“We’re delighted with the

performance, the clean sheet and three goals.”

Heatley was booked for an incident with Chris Gallagher, revealed later on TV replays to have been an elbow.

Referee Jamie Robinson brandished a yellow card to the Crusaders forward and Magilton said the responsibility lay with the official.

“He’s booked him, so he saw something, whether he deemed it a red card or not is down to the referee.”

“That’s not what we want to see in a game,” said Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter.

“If I see it back and it’s a real, blatant one, well then we’ll look at it and have a chat with him.”

Elsewhere on Saturday, Mathew Fitzpatrick scored twice as Linfield returned to the top of the table with a 4-0 victory over Ballymena United. Kirk Millar and Kyle McClean were also on target for David Healy’s side.

Matty Lusty scored twice as Dungannon Swifts moved five points clear of the relegation zone with a 2-1 win over Loughgall.

Coleraine striker Davy McDaid scored with 11 minutes to go to cancel out Reece Glendinning’s opener for Carrick Rangers in a 1-1 draw at the Showgrounds.