Irish Premiership: Cliftonville 1-0 Linfield

Marc Smyth celebrates his winning goal at Solitude

Champions Cliftonville trail Linfield by just two points at the top of the table thanks to a 1-0 win over the 10-man Blues at a wet and windy Solitude.

After a lacklustre first half, defender Marc Smyth scored the winner with a powerful header from a Martin Donnelly free-kick in the 64th minute.

Linfield's Robert Garrett was shown a straight red card for a lunge on Smyth two minutes later.

Cliftonville have won all three league games between the sides this season.

Linfield manager David Jeffrey responded to last week's disappointing 3-3 draw at home to Ards by handing midfielder Garrett his first start since his return from Canada.

The Reds meanwhile had new signing Jude Winchester, on loan from Kilmarnock, on the bench, and he entered the fray after the break.

A large crowd at Solitude endured a scrappy first period in which the testing conditions made any flowing football difficult and six players received yellow cards.

Ivan Sproule and Andy Waterworth saw half-chances blocked as neither side was able to create any clear-cut opportunities.

Early in the second half, the visitors had appeals for a penalty turned down when Ronan Scannell appeared to handle the ball inside the area and then Jamie Mulgrew shot into the sidenetting.

Smyth's goal proved the catalyst for a more open game and following Garrett's dismissal, Ryan Catney saw his left-foot shot saved by Jonny Tuffey.

At the other end, Barry Johnston did well to get in the way of a Billy Joe Burns effort while Liam Boyce was clear through on goal but was challenged successfully by Tuffey.

In the closing stages, Michael Gault was fortunate not to be sent-off after a bad challenge on Chris Curran.

Home manager Tommy Breslin admitted that the "elements had contrived to spoil the game" but added that his players had shown "great hunger and desire".

"We managed to get the only goal against the wind and restrict Linfield to very few chances.

"We have no divine right to win matches - it's all about attitude and workrate and if we make it to the top of the league, you might see a different Cliftonville."

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