Irish Premiership: Linfield extend winning run as O'Connor double sinks Newry

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O'Connor at the double as Linfield go six clear at the top

A Michael O'Connor double gave Linfield a 2-0 away victory over Newry City and doubled their lead at the top of the Irish Premiership table to six points.

The striker scored from close range in each half to extend the Blues' winning run to eight consecutive matches.

The home side missed an opportunity to equalise early in the second half when goalkeeper Gareth Deane, deputising for the injured Roy Carroll, saved Dale Montgomery's penalty.

It was a sixth loss in a row for Newry.

The second-from-bottom side were dogged throughout at the Showgrounds but are without a win in eight games and remain eight points behind 10th-placed Dungannon Swifts.

Deane's penalty save means David Healy's men, who have played a game more than second-placed Ballymena United, have kept a clean sheet for seven successive league matches and they are now unbeaten in 12 outings in all competitions.

They did, however, lose half-time substitute Andrew Mitchell when he had to be stretchered off after a tackle by Mark Hughes, but boss Healy is hopeful the injury will not be a serious one.

Linfield's Andrew Mitchell was stretchered off after a tackle from Mark Hughes
Linfield's Andrew Mitchell was stretchered off after a tackle from Mark Hughes

O'Connor, who replaced Linfield's suspended top scorer Andy Waterworth in the starting line-up, opened the scoring for the visitors in the seventh minute.

Defender Jimmy Callacher sprayed a superb cross-field pass to Niall Quinn on the left wing and his low cross was tapped home by the former Dundalk forward, who moved to Windsor Park last summer.

Referee Arnold Hunter awarded the Blues a penalty 10 minutes before the break for what he initially thought was an infringement on Callacher, but he quickly changed his mind and overturned his decision.

Linfield's second goal came on 56 minutes minutes and was once again from a low, left-wing cross. Joel Cooper beat his man to deliver the pass and O'Connor got across his marker at the near post before adjusting his feet well to finish.

The Blues never looked like letting their two-goal lead slip, but they were almost pegged back twice at 1-0 up as the hosts came desperately close to equalising either side of half-time.

First-half substitute Karl Moody ran onto a Declan Carville pass and beat the advancing Deane with his low shot but it came back off the base of the post.

Newry won their penalty three minutes into the second half when Mitchell fouled James Walker. Montgomery stepped up but Deane, making his first league start of the campaign, dived to his right to save well.

It means Linfield have now gone almost 11 hours of league action without conceding a goal.

Both sides are in derby action in their next outing, with Newry welcoming Warrenpoint Town to the Showgrounds on Saturday and Linfield hosting Glentoran on Monday.

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