McMENAMIN HITS SOLITUDE HAT-TRICK
Conor McMenamin bagged a hat-trick as Cliftonville defeated Carrick Rangers at Solitude.
Cliftonville moved in front as early as the sixth minute after Conor McDermott punted a long ball forward which fell for McMenamin who duly kept his composure to hold off the attentions of Mark Surgenor and fire past Harry Doherty.
The Reds were reduced to ten men around the half-hour mark when Liam Bagnall was dismissed following an incident with Kyle Cherry as he attempted to win possession of the ball.
But Cliftonville doubled their lead just before the break with McMenamin's second of the evening, a sweeping finish into the far corner after Joe Gormley had squared the ball into his path.
After carving out a number of opportunities Carrick eventually pulled a goal back on 69 minutes through Michael Smith after he rose highest to nod Lee Chapman's inch perfect delivery from the right past Richard Brush.
Chances followed at either end with Joe Gormley firing straight at Doherty from a good position while Christopher Rodgers might have levelled with a header but Brush responded with a superb fingertip save.
However, Cliftonville made sure of the points with nine minutes remaining when McMenamin bagged his hat-trick courtesy of a successfully converted spot-kick awarded after Doherty had upended Gormley.
Cliftonville: Brush, McDermott, Ives, Harney, C. Curran, R. Curran, Bagnall, Doherty, Gormley, McMenamin, Donnelly subs Dunne (not used), Harkin (not used), Foster (replaced McMenamin 87), McCrudden (replaced Gormley 89), Rocks (replaced Doherty 90+1), McCurry (not used)
Carrick Rangers: Doherty, Neale, Surgenor, Rodgers, Chapman, Magill, Smith, Cherry, Hassin, Murray, Anderson subs Nicholl (not used), Carson (not used), Reynolds (replaced Murray 87), Colligan (not used), Dunne (not used), Gawne (replaced Cherry 66)