Lightning really did strike twice, as Joe Gormley inspired Cliftonville to a comfortable 5-1 win over Institute.
The 25-year-old striker netted a hat-trick when the sides met in December and he was at it again today.
Incredibly, Paul Kee’s side started the game very well, but a seven-minute treble from Gormley combined with Martin Donnelly’s opener ended the game as a contest.
The visitors had half a chance on two minutes but Michael McCrudden headed wide from 10 yards while under pressure Marc Smyth, after Robbie Hume’s left wing centre had created the opening.
Stute had a great opportunity on 24 minutes when a miss-placed pass by Peter Cherrie only found Duwayne McManus, who fed Cormac Burke but the striker’s tame effort from 20 yards fell well wide.
The Reds broke the deadlock a minute later against the run of play when a long ball caught out the Stute backline and Martin Donnelly ghosted inbehind and he made no mistake firing home past Martin Gallagher.
After a promising start the visitors conceded three goals in seven minutes when red-hot striker Gormley, showed why he’s the deadliest hitman in the league.
Firstly, he raced onto Caoimhin Bonner’s inch-perfect pass before firing home on the half-volley from the edge of the box and within a minute Gormley added his second of the day when he calmly slotted home from close range after Johnny McMurray’s cross.
McMurray was in the thick of the action again on 38 minutes when he was brought down inside the box by Gallagher, who initally dropped the ball inside the box and Gormley made no mistake with the resulting spot-kick, to complete a stunning seven minute hat-trick.
The home side added a fifth on 52 minutes when Martin Donnelly’s right wing corner found his namesake Jay, who had ghosted in behind McCrudden, to head home past Gallagher from close range.
Just after the hour mark Gormley missed a clear-cut opening when Aaron Walsh lost possession to Martin Donnelly on the half-way line, he in turn passed to the striker, but surprisingly the leading marksman’s touch let him down and Gallagher saved.
The Waterside men were denied a consolation goal on 66 minutes when McCrudden’s left-footed strike from 10 yards was superbly tipped over by Cherrie.
Minutes later Gormley again broke of the Stute offside trap, but his curling chip over Gallagher, clipped the crossbar.
On 76 minutes substitute Declan McKeever broke clear down the left and his centre found McCrudden, but his side-footed strike was turned around the post by a diving Cherrie.
Institute did score two minutes later when McCrudden’s left wing corner found Dean Curry, who headed home past Cherrie from close range.
Cliftonville: Cherrie, Cosgrove, Bonner, Smyth, Seydak; J Donnelly, Bayly (Knowles 80), Catney, M Donnelly; McMurray (McDaid 58), Gormley (McCarron 68).
Institute: Gallagher, Crown (Young 64), Scoltock (O’Donnell H-T), McLaughlin (McKeever 70), D Curry; McManus, Walsh, McCrudden; S Curry, Hume, Burke.
Referee: Mr Christophe Lautier (Malta).