Irish Premiership: Cliftonville 5-0 Ballymena Utd

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Cliftonville beat Ballymena 5-0 at Solitude as they close in on the Irish Premiership title

Cliftonville moved a step closer to the Premiership title with a convincing win over struggling Ballymena at Solitude.

Liam Boyce blasted past Dwayne Nelson into the corner of the net in the ninth minute and Ronan Scannell poked the ball home after poor defending on 22.

Stephen Garrett rounded the keeper and slotted home on 49 and Ciaran Caldwell headed in at the back post after 59.

Boyce grabbed his second when he fired in after 72 minutes after Diarmuid O'Carroll played the ball across goal.

Boyce's opener set the Reds on their way, but Ballymena went close to an equaliser through a Tony Kane free-kick and a Mark Surgenor header which skimmed the bar.

Scannell earned the Reds a deserved second goal and Barry Johnston provided the pass for Garrett to make it three.

Caldwell met Boyce's cross at the back post to score his fourth goal in three games since returning from injury.

Boyce's second strike extended the winning margin for the Reds, who still lead Crusaders by 11 points at the top of the table.

Nelson went off injured with 13 minutes remaining, with Surgenor replacing him in goal.

The Sky Blues, who lost 8-0 when the sides last met at the Showgrounds in November, have now gone nine league matches without a win.

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