David McDaid’s well-taken goal just before half-time wasn’t enough to stop Larne slipping to a 2-1 defeat at Solitude.
Rory Hale’s early strike was cancelled out by McDaid’s later leveller in the first half. However, Hale grabbed his second goal of the game just after the hour mark to take all three points.
It was an entertaining affair played in front of sizeable crowd of home and away fans.
The home side went close with less than two minutes on the clock, as Joe Gormely’s header tested Rohan Ferguson.
At the other end, Ben Doherty did likewise when his low drive from the edge of the box called Declan Dunne into action.
The breakthrough for the home side arrived on nine minutes. A cross into the box from left flank was only cleared as far as Rory Hale, and the midfielder fired home from 15 yards out.
Larne came into the game more as the first half wore on, and they were level seven minutes before the break. A brilliant flighted cross from Tomas Cosgrove on the right flank found Davy McDaid at the back post and the striker brought the ball down before firing home his 75th goal for the club.
A minute either side of the hour mark there was a chance at both ends. Firstly, for the home side Kris Lowe had time and space inside the box, and the full-back brought a good save from Rohan Ferguson.
Larne then had a great opportunity to go in front for the first time, but Declan Dunne turned away Ben Doherty’s shot from the edge of the box.
The home side struck what turned out to be the winner on 64 minutes. Cliftonville switched the play to the right to find Jamie McDonagh in space and he crossed for Hale to nod home his second of the day.
Larne pushed for a second leveller, but the closest they came was full-back Graham Kelly shooting wide.
Cliftonville: Dunne, Ives, Hale, R. Curran, McDonagh, Lowe, Addis, Doherty, Gormley, Turner, Gallagher subs McNicholas (not used), Harney (not used), C. Curran (replaced Hale 66), O’Neill (replaced Gormley 85), Foster (replaced Lowe 85), Donnelly (replaced Ives 21), Kearns (not used)
Larne: Ferguson, Balmer, Kelly, Watson, Nasseri, Randall, McDaid, Doherty, Lynch, Mitchell, Cosgrove subs Argyrides (not used), Sule (replaced Mitchell 66), Herron (replaced Randall 74), Hale (replaced McDaid 74), Scott (replaced Nasseri 66), Hughes (not used), Jarvis (not used)
Referee: Raymond Crangle