Linfield still up for title fight after beating league leaders Cliftonville

Liam Boyce is crowded out by Billy Joe Burns (left) and Jamie Mulgrew
Liam Boyce is crowded out by Billy Joe Burns (left) and Jamie Mulgrew

Linfield breathed fresh impetus into their ailing title defence as two goals from Matthew Tipton helped the champions overcome Cliftonville at Windsor Park.

Tipton – who belatedly opened his Blues account against Glenavon at the weekend – bagged a brace as David Jeffrey’s men claimed a rousing 3-1 win.

Michael Carvill was also on target for the home side – Liam Boyce claimed Cliftonville’s only goal of the game.

The Reds’ lead at the top has now been cut to six points – and 10 over Linfield – but Tommy Breslin’s side still boast a game in hand over their chief rivals.

Jeffrey described the win as a “big day” for his side, but was remaining philosophical as far as the championship race was concerned.

“Today was simply about trying to make up for the day we played at Solitude when we lost 3-0. The manner of the defeat was hard to take, and the players had a bit of making up to do,” Jeffrey said.

“I thought first half we were excellent and exhilarating.

“Tipton and (Mark) McAllister were the standout players, and their movement was first class.

“Cliftonville are a very good side and we knew they would come into it, and they did that with their goal. But we got the third goal which helped.

“Both teams had chances, but I don’t think anyone would deny us the win.

“Cliftonville are a very good side. If they win their game in hand they will be 13 points ahead of us - 13 points ahead in January.

“If that was us in front people would be declaring the title as Linfield’s to lose. Well, it is Cliftonville’s to lose.”

Reds boss Tommy Breslin said his side now had to bounce back from yesterday’s defeat.

“It is how we respond. We have had days like this before,” he added.

“Ballinamallard beat us earlier in the season, and we performed poorly against Crusaders earlier in the year. We have responded positively before, and I would be confident we do the same this time.”