Linfield can turn race on head: Jimmy Callacher
Cliftonville 0 - Linfield 2
Jimmy Callacher makes no bones about the fact that Linfield need a few favours from elsewhere in their bid to land the Gibson Cup - but says the Blues are determined to keep up their end of the bargain by winning as many matches as they can.
Callacher and young starlet Paul Smyth were on target as David Healy's men overcame Cliftonville 2-0 at Solitude to remain five points behind Crusaders at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership.
Assuming the Crues get the better of Carrick Rangers in their rearranged fixture tomorrow night, even if Linfield won every game between now and the end of the season, they would still need Crusaders to lose two matches elsewhere - a prospect that Callacher is certainly not banking on.
"Everything's in their hands," said the 24-year-old. "All the pressure's on them as well because they're expected to go on and win the league, whereas we're not.
"We're just trying to pick up as many points as we can to get as close to Crusaders as possible. If they slip up, we need to be there to take advantage."
Two weeks on from a convincing Irish Cup success at the same venue, the Blues clocked up a long overdue Premiership victory against a Cliftonville side whose aversion to defending set-pieces cost them yet again when Callacher opened the scoring on 38 minutes.
The Blues' lead was doubled when Smyth's 67th-minute strike was too hot for Peter Burke to handle as the Reds - who, having suffered just one defeat in Gerard Lyttle's first 19 Premiership games at the helm, now find themselves on a run of one win in five - slipped to fourth in the standings.
Assistant boss Mal Donaghy said: "We have a confidence issue we need to address and, if we can plug gaps in certain areas of the pitch, we believe we have enough to trouble teams going forward."
CLIFTONVILLE: Burke, Ives, Bonner, Knowles, Curran, M Donnelly, Murray, Brennan, Smyth, Catney, Winchester. Subs: Flynn, Garrett, J Donnelly (Winchester, 46 mins), George (Curran, 72 mins), Hughes (M Donnelly, 85 mins).
LINFIELD: Ross Glendinning, Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth, Burns, Ward, M Clarke, Mulgrew, Reece Glendinning, Gaynor, Smyth. Subs: Lowry, McLellan, Millar (Burns, 66 mins) 6, Kee, Quinn.
Man of match: Paul Smyth
Match rating: 6/10
Referee: Robert Harvey (Dublin)