Irish Premiership: Cliftonville 4-2 Ballymena Utd

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Cliftonville beat Ballymena United to go second

Cliftonville moved up to second place in the Premiership with this victory over battling Ballymena at Solitude.

Chris Curran lobbed Alan Blayney for the fifth-minute opener, then David McDaid scored two penalties inside six minutes to put the Reds in command.

Willie Faulkner lashed home from 25 yards and in the second half Gary Thompson prodded in from close range.

Tomas Cosgrove slipped the ball to substitute James Knowles, who netted past Alan Blayney with a deft touch.

The Reds remain eight points adrift of leaders and north Belfast rivals Crusaders, but Gerard Lyttle's side have a game in hand.

Curran's exquisite wind-assisted opener gave the forward his fourth goal of the season, before McDaid twice beat Blayney from the spot.

The striker sent the visiting keeper the wrong way in the 17th minute after Curran had been brought down inside the area by Paddy McNally and repeated the feat on 23 minutes when Blayney fouled Stephen Garrett.

Faulkner pulled one back on 25 with a spectacular half-volley after Johnny Taylor's initial header was adjudged to have been cleared off the line.

After the interval, Curran saw his shot cannon off the inside of the post into the arms of a relieved Blayney and Thompson reduced his team's deficit to a single goal after David Cushley had been denied by Conor Devlin.

Knowles popped up to ease the home side's nerves and extend the Reds' unbeaten run in the league to 11 games.

Cliftonville manager Gerard Lyttle: "I was delighted with our play in the first half hour but then we took our feet off the gas and let Ballymena back into it.

"Credit to Ballymena, they kept going and made it hard for us, they don't make it easy for you. Once they scored their second goal we stopped playing so I was relieved to get the fourth."

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