NIFL Premiership

Cliftonville 0–3 Linfield 

LINFIELD moved back above Cliftonville into second place and nearest challengers to Larne after second half goals from Kyle McClean and substitutes Daniel Finlayson and Chris McKee saw them thump Cliftonville 3-0 at Solitude on Tuesday evening. 

The Blues were wasteful in the opening half and eventually made their pressure pay when McClean rifled home the opener early in the second half. 

Substitute Finlayson doubled the lead within a minute of his introduction and played the provider’s role in Chris McKee sealing all three points, much to the disappointment of Cliftonville boss Jim Magilton who rued the nature of defending in the goals that they conceded.  

“It’s a chastening experience,” Magilton reflected. 

“Obviously in the first half, we’re delighted to come in at 0-0. We didn’t work their goalkeeper a great deal, but it was always a tight game. 

“They created one or two opportunities. There was a very open conversation about having to do things better with the ball, show greater quality, a bit more courage on the ball and taking a few risks in terms of how we play and how we have played at home for so long. 

“We were giving the ball away very cheaply. We should have dealt with the first goal, and it is a lesson that has to be learnt very quickly. Deal with it, defend properly and then move on from that. Then two set-pieces. Again, we’ve defended particularly well but tonight we didn’t."

Linfield should have made the breakthrough after seven minutes when David Odumosu slipped under pressure from Jonny Addis’ back pass, allowing Rhys Annett a golden opportunity he failed to take advantage of as he fired into the side netting. 

Midway through the half, Jamie Mulgrew clipped a pass to the back post and both Annett and Ethan McGee were unable to steer home. 

The hosts’ first half chance arrived shortly after. Jonny Addis provided the cross and Sam Ashford’s header dropped into the arms of Chris Johns. 

Matthew Clarke saw a driven shot blocked by Addis and a minute later, Ethan McGee squared to Matthew Fitzpatrick, but the striker was unable to take advantage and Shea Kearney was forced to bundle clear. 

Fitzpatrick followed up with a downward header after the half hour mark, but Odumosu gathered with ease. 

Just before the break, Rory Hale skipped forward and flashed a low effort past the post and on the stroke of half-time, Ronan Doherty curled a free-kick high and wide as the half finished scoreless. 

Cliftonville began the second period with more intent and almost broke the deadlock when Ronan Doherty’s throw-in was flicked onto the back post by Sam Ashford but Shea Kearney was unable to turn the ball home.

The breakthrough arrived in the 54th minute and fell to the Blues. Odhran Casey was unable to successfully shield the ball out of play as Rhys Annett cut the ball back for Kyle McClean to sweep home and give his side the lead. 

A minute prior to the hour mark, Stephen Mallon dropped in a cross and Ronan Hale collided with Ethan McGee in the area, but referee Lee Tavinder waved away the strikers appeals, much to the displeasure of Hale who was booked for his protests. 

The visitors lost Chris Shields through injury and replacement Daniel Finlayson made an instant impact upon his arrival. 

Sam Ashford is challenged by Chris Shields

Sam Ashford is challenged by Chris Shields

Less than 60 seconds after entering proceedings, he rose highest to turn home Matthew Clarke’s corner to make it 2-0. 

Clarke went close himself from Kyle McClean’s cross and Rory Hale then turned the ball off the line from Fitzpatrick’s attempt. 

Linfield sealed all three points from the subsequent corner. Kyle McClean’s delivery was knocked down by Finlayson and substitute Chris McKee was on hand to thump home and make it 3-0. 

Cliftonville were unable to muster a response in the closing stages as Jim Magilton’s side suffered their first defeat in 14 league outings and suffered a huge blow to their chances of winning the Gibson Cup. 

CLIFTONVILLE: Odumosu, Kearney, Addis, Casey, Burns (Stewart 77’), Mallon, Doherty (Gormley 71’), Gordon (C Curran 67’), Rory Hale, Ashford, Ronan Hale. 

LINFIELD: Johns, East, Shields (Finlayson 63’), McClean, Hall, Clarke, Mulgrew, McGee, Fitzpatrick, Annett (McKee 59’), Archer. 

REFEREE: Lee Tavinder 

NIFL Championship
Portadown 0 Newington 4

Newington bounced back from their weekend defeat against Ballinamallard United with a stunning victory at Shamrock Park on Tuesday.

Darren Stuart netted a hat-trick for the North Belfast side, opening the scoring in the 21st minute and doubled the advantage just four minutes later to establish a 2-0 lead at the interval.

There was no let-up after the break as Ruaidhri Donnelly sealed the points after 70 minutes before Stuart put the icing on the cake five later to secure the match ball.

The result sees them leap-wrong Annagh United into seventh ahead of Saturday's trip to Institute at The Brandywell.