Linfield 1-0 Cliftonville
Cliftonville slipped to a narrow defeat in a closely contested encounter with Linfield at Windsor Park this afternoon.
Jordan Stewart’s header in the opening minutes of the second-half ultimately proved decisive and, though the Reds enjoyed long spells of pressure thereafter, were simply unable to force the leveller that their efforts deserved.
Christy Manzinga might have opened the scoring with just over 10 minutes on the clock when he burst through on goal but, with only Declan Dunne to beat, he lifted his left-foot shot over the crossbar.
The Blues came close again when Jimmy Callacher thumped a header against the crossbar from Kirk Millar’s delivery.
Cliftonville’s first effort of note came just before the half-hour mark but Jonny Addis’ close range header from a Levi Ives cross was directed over.
What proved to be Linfield’s winner came five minutes after the break. A great cross from left by Ahmed Salam was met by Stewart, who got into a bit of space to guide a header past Dunne and into the net.
Despite bossing possession for the remainder of the contest, the closest Cliftonville came to getting the equaliser their display merited arrived six minutes from time when Chris Curran’s cross was just too high for Paul O’Neill, who was only able to direct his header wide of the post.
Cliftonville: Dunne, McDermott (O’Neill, 54 mins), Ives (Coates, 86 mins), C Curran, R Curran, McDonagh (Kears, 67 mins), Lowe, Donnelly, Addis, Gormley, Turner. Unused subs: McNicholas, Foster, Casey, Morgan.