Cliftonville reduce Linfield’s lead at top after narrow victory

Cliftonville's Marc Smyth celebrates scoring against Linfield
Cliftonville's Marc Smyth celebrates scoring against Linfield

Cliftonville snipped Linfield’s lead at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership to just two points thanks to a narrow victory at Solitude.

Marc Smyth banked the only goal of the game - stabbing home a Martin Donnelly free-kick on 64 mins - before the Blues’ hopes of a comeback were snuffed out when Robert Garrett received a straight red card from referee Arnold Hunter following a reckless challenge on the scorer.

Liam Boyce twice passed up decent opportunities to extend the champions’ advantage and the hosts were grateful to goalkeeper Conor Devlin for an acrobatic 94th minute save to stop Ross Clarke’s looping cross from creeping in at the far post.

CLIFTONVILLE: Devlin, McGovern, R Scannell, Johnston, McMullan, Donnelly, Smyth, Catney, Gormley, Murray, Boyce. Subs: Caldwell (for Donnelly, 83 mins), O’Carroll, Seydak, Winchester (for Gormley, 69 mins), Curran (for Murray, 54 mins).

LINFIELD: Tuffey, Gault, Haughey, Waterworth, Carvill, BJ Burns, Ward, Garrett, Mulgrew, Sproule, Quinn. Subs: McVey, Thompson (for Burns, 90 mins), Ross Glendinning, McAllister (for Carvill, 69 mins), Clarke (for Sproule, 69 mins).

REFEREE: Arnold Hunter (Maguiresbridge).