Ruairi Harkin and Niall Quinn (©INPHO/Brian Little)
Saturday, 29 December 2018
Linfield kept the pressure on the league leaders with a two-goal defeat of Cliftonville at Solitude.
Cliftonville might have opened the scoring after nine minutes after Rory Donnelly cut inside to force a save out of Roy Carroll while Joe Gormley could only send the rebound over.
Linfield came close through Jordan Stewart, but his effort was blocked by Damien McNulty before Jamie Harney headed away a dangerous Kirk Millar cross as Stephen Fallon was poised to pounce.
Niall Quinn was next to threaten when his volley from Stewart's cross drifted narrowly wide.
But the deadlock was broken on 39 minutes. Millar collected the ball down the right and laid it off for Stewart with his header being tipped onto the post by Richard Brush before crossing the line.
The Reds might have levelled almost immediately when Ruairi Harkin delivered a cross for Donnelly but his header came back off the post before Jimmy Callacher cleared.
Linfield doubled their advantage a couple of minutes into the second half thanks to Quinn's close range tap in after a moment of confusion in the home defence.
David Healy's side were reduced to ten men on 77 minutes when Michael O'Connor, a substitution just five minutes earlier, was dismissed following an off the ball incident with McNulty for what was his second booking of the afternoon.
Boosted by this, Cliftonville pushed to get back into the game but, despite efforts from Ryan Curran and Donnelly couldn't make a dent in Linfield's lead.
Cliftonville: Brush, McGovern, Ives, Harney, C. Curran, Harkin, Garrett, R. Donnelly, Catney, Gormley, McNulty subs McKenna (not used), R. Curran (replaced Catney 70), Bagnall (not used), McConnell (not used), Lavery, Maguire (replaced Garrett 90+2), A. Donnelly (not used)
Linfield: Carroll, Robinson, Callacher, Waterworth, Stewart, Millar, Clarke, Fallon, Mulgrew, Quinn, Casement subs Deane (not used), Stafford (not used), O'Connor (replaced Waterworth 73), Kearns (not used), Garrett (replaced Millar 90+1), Mitchell (replaced Fallon 68), Reynolds (not used)
Referee: Steven Gregg
|Stephen Garrett||90 +2|
|Kirk Millar||90 +1|
|Thomas Maguire||90 +2|
|Robert Garrett||90 +1|