Irish Premiership: Linfield 1-3 Cliftonville

Cliftonville beat Linfield 3-1 to move to the top of the table

Cliftonville moved one point ahead of Linfield in the race for the league title thanks to a pulsating 3-1 victory over the Blues at Windsor Park.

Liam Boyce gave the Reds a deserved lead in the 47th minute when he curled a shot round Jonny Tuffey into the bottom corner of the net.

Gormley headed in the second after 70 minutes but Michael Gault hammered in an unstoppable drive soon after.

Boyce turned and fired home a left-foot effort to secure the win on 83 minutes.

"It was a good performance - we played good football and it is in our hands now, which is a nice position to be in," said manager Tommy Breslin afterwards.

"We've been showing the form of champions since the turn of the year and the players have been outstanding after a slow start to the campaign.

"But there are still four competitive games to come and there could yet be lots of twists and turns."

Cliftonville began the game confident in the knowledge that they had won six of the last seven Premiership meetings between the sides, and all three of the league matches the teams had played this season.

Jimmy Callacher and Joe Gormley
Jimmy Callacher and Joe Gormley in aerial action at Windsor Park

The Blues were without influential suspended pair Sean Ward and Philip Lowry, plus injured duo Niall Quinn and Ivan Sproule.

Jimmy Callacher came in for his first Linfield start in central defence, with Robert Garrett also drafted in for the first time since being sent-off the last time the sides locked horns at Solitude.

The Reds had George McMullan missing because of injury, with Ronan Scannell stepping in.

Callacher squandered an early opportunity when he headed wide from a corner, then Boyce skied an effort over the bar.

Boyce also fired an attempt just off-target as David Jeffrey's side were mostly forced into a rearguard action while, at the other end, Conor Devlin denied Billy Joe Burns before the break.

Boyce latched onto a through ball after Aaron Burns had been caught in possession to open the scoring two minutes after the interval.

Tuffey then easily collected a Boyce 20-yard shot and Martin Donnelly cleared off the line to deny the hosts an equaliser.

Callacher was wide with two more headers, but Gormley gave his side some breathing space with his 35th goal of the season.

Gormley ran onto Chris Curran's perfect slide-rule pass but saw his first shot saved by Tuffey and his second cannon off the bar, before he headed the ball over the line at the third attempt.

The goal came just a minute after Linfield had penalty appeals for a handball by Curran in his own area turned down.

A frenetic second half continued when Gault drilled into the top right hand corner, but Boyce made the points safe with his second of the game.