Andrew Waterworth celebrates scoring one of his three goals (©INPHO/Jonathan Porter)
Saturday, 24 November 2018
Linfield moved back to the top of the table thanks to an Andrew Waterworth inspired defeat of Cliftonville at Windsor Park.
The Blues might have opened the scoring just before a quarter-of-an-hour had elapsed when Joel Cooper's cross fell to Kirk Millar but he could only send the ball wide from six yards.
However Millar atoned for this three minutes later with a successfully delivered corner which Jimmy Callacher met to glance a header past Brian Neeson from close range.
The Blues could have doubled their lead after half-an-hour with Millar again involved, this time with a cross for Waterworth to nod just wide of the goal.
Waterworth went one better on 36 minutes after he was allowed to run unchecked to get on the end of a Cooper pass to squeeze the ball inside the post with his right foot.
Cliftonville were thrown a lifeline just before the break when, at the end of a free-flowing move, Joe Gormley fired past Roy Carroll to reduce the arrears.
Linfield restored their two-goal advantage on the hour, however, when Waterworth doubled his tally with a header from another Millar ball.
Back came Cliftonville again barely two minutes later with Rory Donnelly nodding Curran's corner into the path of Jamie Harney who steered the ball home.
The game was effectively ended as a contest with nine minutes to go with Waterworth's hat-trick goal. Jamie Mulgrew initially found Niall Quinn with an inch perfect pass who, in turn, laid the ball off for Waterworth to sweep into the net.
Linfield: Carroll, Robinson, Callacher, Waterworth, Cooper, Stewart, Millar, Fallon, Mulgrew, Quinn, Casement subs Stafford (not used), Forde (not used), Clarke (replaced Cooper 80), Garrett (replaced Stewart 74), Mitchell (not used), Reynolds (replaced Waterworth 90), Deane (not used)
Cliftonville: Neeson, McGovern, Ives, Harney, C. Curran, R. Donnelly, McDonald, Bagnall, Catney, Gormley, J. Donnelly subs Breen (replaced McGovern 60), Harkin (not used), R. Curran (replaced McDonald 70), Garrett (not used), McConnell (replaced R. Donnelly 84), Lavery (not used), Maguire (not used)
Referee: Tim Marshall