7th September 2019
Irish Premier League
Linfield Scorer :
Jimmy Callacher 57'
Linfield Yellow Cards :
Hery, Waterworth, Cooper
Cliftonville Yellow Cards :
Breen, C Curran
Linfield Team :
Rohan Ferguson (GK), Chris Casement, Jimmy Callacher, Mark Stafford, Niall Quinn, Bastien Hery (Stephen Fallon 65’), Jamie Mulgrew ©, Daniel Kearns , Joel Cooper, Kirk Millar, Andy Waterworth (Matthew Shevlin 84’)
Linfield Subs not used :
Gareth Deane, Ross Larkin, Matthew Clarke, Andrew Mitchell, Daniel Reynolds
Cliftonville Team :
Richard Brush, Conor McDermott, Levi Ives, Garry Breen (Thomas Maguire 82’), Jamie Harney, Chris Curran ©, Ryan Curran (Stephen Garrett 76’), Rory Donnelly, Liam Bagnall, Joe Gormley, Conor McMenamin
Cliftonville Subs not used :
Declan Dunne (GK), Seanna Foster, Ronan Wilson, Aaron Donnelly, Joe Gorman
Linfield made a winning return to domestic action following their heroics in the Europa League with a hard fought 1-0 win over Cliftonville this afternoon, thanks to a powerful header from Jimmy Callacher in the second half.
The Blues made a bright start but couldn’t find an early breakthrough despite Casement and Waterworth both having shots from inside the box crucially blocked on the face of goal following spells of Linfield pressure.
Cliftonville goalkeeper Richard Brush was alert to deny Linfield when Kirk Millar’s corner was met by a goalward flick from Callacher at the near post which Brush was able to beat it away,
The best chance of the half fell for The Reds on the half-hour mark when Chris Curran slipped Conor McMenamin through on goal but he could only squeeze a shot just wide of the far post on his weaker right foot.
Linfield had at least five corners in the first and uncharacteristically they failed to make them count, much to their frustration in a frustrating opening 45 where both teams just couldn’t find a cutting edge.
Half Time: Cliftonville 0 – 0 Linfield
The first chance of the second half fell for Cliftonville talisman Joe Gormley after a poor Linfield clearance but the striker poked an effort wide from inside the box.
After many corners it seemed inevitable that one would eventually count and that proved to be the case as Jimmy Callacher opened the scoring at Solitude on 57 minutes. The big defender got across the his man to power home a header from Kirk Millar’s pinpoint corner.
Paddy McLaughlin’s men naturally looked for a response and Gormley almost provided it when he flicked a header towards the far corner from Chris Curran’s free-kick, only to be denied by a good save from Rohan Ferguson in the Blues’ goal. The ball also dropped kindly for Rory Donnelly minutes later but he volleyed just over the crossbar.
The Reds could and should have got back on level terms on 67 minutes. Captain Chris Curran did brilliantly to beat his man to go through into the box but the angle was against him and he picked out namesake Ryan Curran in the middle but just as he looked certain to score, he couldn’t sort his feet out and fluffed his effort into Ferguson’s grateful arms.
Young striker Matthew Shevlin who signed in the summer following the expiry of his contract at Ballymena United, who is the nephew of former Linfield goalkeeper Wes Lamont, made his debut off the bench six minutes from time, replacing Andy Waterworth who’d been booked.
The Reds were piling on intense late pressure but Linfield almost hit them with a hammer-blow on the break in stoppage time when Matthew Shevlin raced down the left before squaring the ball across for Kirk Millar at the back post, but he was denied by an outstanding save by Richard Brush. Still, Linfield held on for a valuable three points in north Belfast.
Man of the Match - Mark Stafford
Full Time: Cliftonville 0 – 1 Linfield