It was 'three and easy' for Reds

Cliftonville…(2) 3 Boyce (19); C Scannell (22); O'Connor (74)Institute…(0) 0

SOME poor defending combined with some deadly finishing saw Cliftonville, inflict Institute's first defeat of the season when playing in Belfast.

For boss John Gregg he will be disappointed with some of the slack marking, which allowed the title chasing Reds to cruise to a comfortable victory.

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Incredibly the Waterside men started in a positive fashion on a snow coated Solitude pitch and they had a half-chance in the fifth minute when Sean Friars' pass found Kevin Ramsey, but his shot on the turn from the edge of the box sailed well wide.

The visitors continued to press forward and in the 17th minute a super run and cross from Friars found Paul Lowry, but his goal bound shot from close range was blocked by Peter Hutton.

Those two half-chance seemed to spark the home side into life and they took the lead two minutes later, following a fantastic slick move.

Chris Scannell's left wing cross found Ciaran Caldwell at the back post, his cushioned header into Kieran O'Connor, saw the midfielder tee up Liam Boyce and he calmly slotted the ball into the net past a flat-footed Gavin Cullen.

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Cliftonville doubled their lead following some slack defending by 'Stute.

Boyce got half a yard away from David Ogilby, before laying the ball back to Ronan Scannell, who was allowed too much space by Thomas Wray and his centre, which also deceived Cullen and found his brother Chris, who gleefully slid the ball home.

A quickly taken throw-in early in the second half by Barry Holland caught out Declan Divin, but fortunately for the left-winger Ciaran Caldwell's dipping shot flew just over Cullen's bar.

A super snap-shot from the lively Scannell just after the hour mark, nearly caught out Cullen, but the big keeper did well to tip the 20 yard effort around his right hand post.

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Institute had a super chance to get back into the game on 73 minutes when substitute Joe McCreadie fed Ramsey, but with his first real clear-cut opportunity the striker dragged his shot wide.

That missed chance came back to haunt John Gregg's side as man of the match Scannell set up the Reds' third goal a minute later.

The striker skipped away from a few challenges before with his weaker left foot picked out an unmarked Ciaran O'Connor who calmly steered his volley into Cullen's bottom left hand corner.

Cliftonville: Connolly, McMullan, Donaghy, Hutton, R Scannell; O'Connor, Boyce, B Holland, Clarke; C Scannell, Caldwell. Subs: Jones for Caldwell (68); Fleming for Clarke (75); Dunlop for Boyce (86); O'Hara & M Holland (not used).

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Institute: Cullen, Wray, McLaughlin, Ogilby, Holmes; McClements, McClean, Friars, Divin; Ramsey, Lowry. Subs: Boyle for Clements (55); McCreadie for Friars (69); Seydak, Crown & Ryan (not used).

Referee: Mr David Malcolm (Bangor).

Cautioned: Friars (41); Ramsey (42); McClean (75).

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