LINFIELD 3 CLIFTONVILLE 1
CLIFTONVILLE’S lead at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership has been cut to six points after the Reds suffered a 3-1 defeat to Linfield.
Matthew Tipton bagged two goals and Michael Carvill added a third to keep the Blues’ title defence alive and kicking - Liam Boyce netted Cliftonville’s only goal.
The result leaves Tommy Breslin’s Reds six points ahead of Crusaders, while Linfield have closed to within 10 points of the leaders.
Cliftonville do have a game in hand but Tuesday’s result will pose some questions to the North Belfast side.
Two goals in three minutes saw Linfield take a commanding lead.
Tipton broke the deadlock in the 20th minute when he raced through on Albert Watson’s through ball and rounded Conor Devlin before squeezing his shot past George McMullan.
It was 2-0 soon after with Tipton bagging his second of the day with a close-range finish after Mark McAllister and Albert Watson both had chances blocked on the line.
Devlin denied McAllister with a world-class save in the 32nd minute, the Reds keeper at full-stretch to parry McAllister’s thunderbolt.
The visitors were back in the game two minutes later with Boyce scoring his 21st goal of the season.
Diarmuid O’Carroll was the provider, threading a pass for Boyce to rush onto before slotting past the advancing Alan Blayney.
Linfield restored their two-goal advantage in the 54th minute.
Tipton played in McAllister down the right channel and the striker unselfishly squared for Carvill to tap home.
Cliftonville thought they were back in the game in the 73rd minute when substitute Joe Gormley fired home, but the striker as adjudged to have been offside.
Blayney then denied McMullan and Gormley as the Reds squandered good chances to get back in the game.
LINFIELD: Blayney, Armstrong, Gault, Carvill, Burns, Tipton (Fordyce 86), Mulgrew, Watson, McCaul (Clarke 80), McAllister, Black.
Subs not used: Douglas, Browne, Garrett.
CLIFTONVILLE: Devlin, McGovern, Scannell, Johnston, McMullan, Garrett, Donnelly (Gormley 61), O’Carroll (Lynch 82), Smyth, Catney, Boyce.
Subs not used: Seydak, Cosgrove, O’Kane.
Referee: Arnold Hunter (Maguiresbridge)