A 73rd minutes strike from Cliftonville’s Jay Donnelly secured the win over Portadown this afternoon.
That means Tommy Breslin’s North Belfast side have made it three wins out of three in their opening games, even without Joe ‘The Goal’ Gormley.
20-year-old Donnelly rounded sub keeper Billy Brennan to net after George McMullan had won possession and supplied the through ball.
Brennan had come on late in the first half to replace David Miskelly who sustained a knee injury.
Before the goal Cliftonville’s James Knowles hit the bar with as free-kick.
The result sees Portadown drop their first points of the season, with Cliftonville and Linfield the only teams with maximum points after thee games.
Portadown made a bright start but Cliftonville held the upper hand after the interval.
Darren Murray, who withdrew his transfer request on Thursday, returned to the Portadown attack after missing the midweek win over Warrenpoint because of suspension.
He set up an early chance with a pull back from the bye-line but strike partner Gary Twigg was unable to apply a scoring touch in front of goal.
Before that Jay Donnelly, who looked impressive for Cliftonville, slid a low shot wide.
The Ports lost keeper David Miskelly late in the first half with a knee injury and he was replaced by Billy Brennan.
Just before the break Ports defender Chris Ramsey skied over from just a few yards out while Cliftonville winger Martin Donnelly’s lob struck Brennan’s crossbar.
In the second half Knowles saw his free0kick strike the crossbar.
But then came the decisive moment as Mark McAlister was dispossessed in his own half and McMullan slid the pass through for Donnelly to beat Brennan.
Late on Cliftonville’s David McDaid was blocked out in a crowded penalty area.
BALLYMENA UTD 0 V 2 COLERAINE (Morrow 2, Canning 22)
CARRICK RANGERS 1 (Roy 65) V 1 GLENTORAN (Kane 77)
CRUSADERS 5 (O’Carroll 1, Heatley 13 & 20, Owens 45 & 80) V BALLINAMALLARD UTD 0
LINFIELD 5 (Burns 18, Waterworth 57, 82 & 88, Salley 90+1) V 1 DUNGANNON SWIFTS (Armstrong 46, s/o 55)
PORTADOWN 0 V 1 CLIFTONVILLE (J Donnelly 73)
WARRENPOINT TOWN 0 V 3 GLENAVON 3 (Clarke og 21, Bradley 58, Cooper 72)