Belfast Telegraph

Cliftonville no match for Linfield

Linfield 4 Cliftonville 1: David Jeffrey admitted it was refreshing to see a visiting team come to Windsor Park and play an attacking game — but it’s unlikely anyone will fancy following Cliftonville’s lead after this Linfield romp.

The Blues have been frustrated by opponents’ negative tactics in recent times and while Jeffrey did not criticise any of his fellow managers’ approaches, he gave credit to the Reds for staying true to their principles, even if it ultimately saw them fall to a heavy defeat.

“Cliftonville came out and tried to play,” he said.

“I am not critical of teams who play defensively — they do what they have to do — but, besides BATE (in the Champions League), they were the only side we played this season who looked as if they wanted to pass the ball.”

Linfield’s afternoon got off to the perfect start when Aaron Burns fired them in front after just two minutes with a deft finish following a smart run down the left flank — the fourth time in six outings that the Reds have fallen behind in the opening exchanges.

Another theme of the Solitude side’s recent form has been slipping 2-0 down before the interval and for the third Premiership game in succession that proved to be the case when Michael Carvill was left with the simple task of tapping into an empty net from Mark McAllister’s 26th minute assist.

Cliftonville had enjoyed plenty of possession, but did absolutely nothing with it and rarely can Blues keeper Alan Blayney have had a more relaxing afternoon.

Indeed, the Reds’ first shot on target came 13 minutes from time when Chris Scannell acrobatically netted with an awkward-looking strike — by which time Jeffrey’s side had already extended their advantage by virtue of Jim Ervin’s finish after Carvill had seized upon a wayward pass from George McMullan.

Linfield’s response to that Cliftonville goal was to promptly bag a fourth of their own and after Carvill had taken a very soft tumble under the challenge of goalkeeper Ryan Brown, McAllister stepped up to lash home.

“To score four against a team as big as Cliftonville is a great boost to confidence,” said Ervin |(pictured) afterwards.

“If we continue that form in the next few games, which are all tough — Coleraine next week, then Glentoran and Portadown in the league soon after — we should be OK.

“We maybe got a little bit sloppy in the second-half and credit to Cliftonville because they tried to attack all game and maybe that’s what made it so open.

“We have been frustrated in a few games this season where teams have sat back and tried to counter-attack.”

As for getting on the scoresheet himself, the full-back added: “It is probably my first goal with my left foot!

“It happened that quick I didn’t have much time to think about what I was going to do.

“Sometimes when you act on instinct, it comes off better.”

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