Match Details
Season :
2021/2022
Date :
25th January 2022
Competition :
Irish Premier League
Venue :
Solitude
Referee :
Tony Clarke
Linfield Scorers :
Matthew Clarke 60', Ethan Devine 84'
Cliftonville Scorers :
Jamie McDonagh 15', 62'
Linfield Yellow Card :
M Clarke
Cliftonville Yellow Card :
McDonagh
Teams
Linfield Team :
Chris Johns (GK), Michael Newberry, Jimmy Callacher, Sam Roscoe, Matthew Clarke, Kyle McClean (Cameron Palmer 68'), Jamie Mulgrew © (Jordan Stewart 82'), Stephen Fallon, Kirk Millar, Christy Manzinga, Chris McKee (Ethan Devine 68')
Linfield Subs not used :
David Walsh, Martin Donnelly, Andrew Clarke, Adam Carroll
Cliftonville Team :
Luke McNicholas (GK), Conor McDermott (Chris Curran 45’), Jonathan Addis, Luke Turner, Levi Ives, Chris Gallagher (Joe Gormley 90’), Ronan Doherty (Aaron Donnelly 76’), Kris Lowe, Daniel Kearns (Paul O’Neill 65’), Jamie McDonagh, Ryan Curran
Report
Linfield showed resilience to fight back from behind twice to salvage at point under the lights at Solitude thanks to goals from Matthew Clarke and Ethan Devine.

The Blues started on the front foot and had a penalty appeal waved away inside three minutes when Chris McKee went down in the box, although it wasn’t the most passionate plea you’ll see, so perhaps there wasn’t enough in it.

Cliftonville took the lead after 15 minutes and it came through winger Jamie McDonagh who was a real thorn in Linfield’s side in the match. The Reds kept the ball alive in and around the box and after a few blocked efforts McDonagh drove a 20 yard strike low into the bottom corner.

After that the Blues lost their way. Despite plenty of the ball it just wasn’t clicking and the champions’ best chance of the half came when Kirk Millar found Jimmy Callacher who’d stayed forward after a Linfield corner. The Blues defender beat opposition defender McDermott in the air but Callacher’s header came off the back of McDermott’s head when he didn’t know a great deal about it, which was unfortunate for Linfield.

In the first half Linfield played some nice passing combinations but nothing decisive once it reached the final third. The second half brought more threat from Linfield.

Half Time: Cliftonville 1-0 Linfield

In front of sold-out Solitude, the Reds had another decent attempt at goal early in the second half. Once again it was the outstanding Jamie McDonagh who went close when he curled a 20 yard strike at goal which was well saved by Chris Johns.

The Blues then drew level on the hour-mark. It came from brilliant play by Michael Newberry who came into the team on the night at right back. Although a central defender by trade, Newberry showed his general ability on the ball when he cut onto his left foot and supplied a glorious cross to the back post which had ‘head me’ written all over it, and Matthew Clarke obliged as he arrived on cue to head in, in front of the away end.

The Blues then must have been thinking of going and getting another goal after that which was to their detriment as they left the back door open and as a result, they were only on level terms for two minutes. Cliftonville struck on the counter as it was wide open for Kris Lowe when he got the ball in midfield for the Reds before slipping it through to Jamie McDonagh running through on goal before he netted his second goal of the night with a good finish low into the far corner. McDonagh was perhaps fortunate not to be dismissed straight after however as he was already on a yellow card and left the field of play during his celebrations, something which is normally deemed a cautionable offence. That would have been significant as the winger was virtually unplayable on the night and deserves plaudits for his performance.

Matthew Clarke was left scratching his head in wonder how he hadn’t scored his and Linfield’s second. The full-back did everything right as he met Jamie Mulgrew’s clipped cross into the box and despite clean contact on the header, Cliftonville goalkeeper Luke McNicholas made a terrific save, not only to get a hand on it, but to also push it up onto the crossbar.

The Blues did then get their second equaliser six minutes from time. It was another well-worked move down the side as Stephen Fallon fed the overlapping run of Matthew Clarke who whipped in a great cross and it was former Cliftonville striker Ethan Devine who got across his marker to find the corner with a neat header. It’s Devine’s second goal in as many games since joining from Knockbreda a few weeks ago and his physicality boosted Linfield once he came on as a substitute.

It was a cagey ending during the three additional minutes. There was almost a final twist as Linfield worked the ball well from back to front to find Kirk Millar to the right, just inside the box in space but his low driven shot ended up in the side netting via a deflection and the Reds dealt with the resultant corner.

Linfield’s lead at the top has now been cut back to one point. A lot of tired bodies left the pitch but there were positives as Jordan Stewart returned from injury, whilst Cameron Palmer played another 25 minutes after returning with a brief sub appearance on Saturday. David Healy may see this as two points dropped, or a point gained to dig in and come back away to a good team who are only five points behind in third.

Full Time: Cliftonville 2 – 2 Linfield

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