Gerard Lyttle was delighted that Cliftonville followed up last week’s victory over Linfield by pocketing maximum points against Ballymena United.
Goals in either half from James Knowles and Jude Winchester maintained the Reds’ fine form at Solitude and, though the visitors were not without chances of their own – indeed, home stopper Peter Burke earned the man of the match award – Lyttle’s men did enough to get themselves over the line.
“It was important we added another win after beating Linfield last week,” said the Cliftonville boss.
“Often you see teams get results like that but fail to back them up. Thankfully, we’ve got the job done here. I thought both teams played well and there were plenty of chances, so to get the win and keep a clean sheet was pleasing.”
Having already seen a penalty appeal turned down by referee Tim Marshall, Cliftonville broke the deadlock when Knowles converted from the spot after Kyle Owens had blocked a Davy McDaid drive with a hand.
Burke’s smart save from Cathair Friel maintained the home side’s advantage early in the second period ahead of Winchester making it 2-0 when he touched McDaid’s in from close range.
Winchester and Friel exchanged chances before United’s Willie Faulkner was denied by the base of the post, with Friel smashing his follow-up wide.
Burke made another fantastic one-handed stop to thwart Fra McCaffrey as the visitors - who should have been awarded a penalty when Levi Ives felled Neil Lowry late on - sought a route back into the contest but, try as they might, there was no way through as the Reds held on.
“When we beat Cliftonville earlier in the season, Gerard felt a bit hard done by and down on his luck,” said United manager David Jeffrey.
“I think we can say the same about us today. We’ve created a number of chances but their goalkeeper has made some magnificent saves.
“I can see why the Cliftonville penalty was awarded. In this day and age, referees would be instructed to give that but I can’t understand how we weren’t given one when Lowry was taken down.”