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Reds and Blues are left feeling Sky high

By Graham Luney

Linfield and Cliftonville had the Sky Sports 1 viewers on the edge of their armchairs last night - but not everyone was captivated by the entertainment.

Blues boss David Jeffrey said afterwards: "It's not so good for us ? I'm off to book a bed in the Royal Victoria Hospital.

"Sky must be thinking I hope all the games are like this. I think anyone who saw the passion and the performance from both teams must have been entertained and impressed.

"For the neutral sitting at home it must have been excellent for them."

Irish League football has had its share of negative publicity over the years but when Sky Television last night put the spotlight on Cliftonville and Linfield - as well as their supporters at Solitude ? it made for a thrilling spectacle.

The Carnegie Premier League champions twice went in front in the second half but failed to kill of a team which seems determined to last the pace in this season's title race.

The fans served up an electric atmosphere in the league opener while both teams kept the viewers and spectators glued to the action by going for the jugular in the second half.

Glenn Ferguson blasted the visitors into a 57th-minute lead when he pounced on the end of a Paul McAreavey free-kick but two minutes later David McAlinden levelled the scores from close range.

Linfield regained the lead in the 73nd minute when Thomas Stewart hammered home Ferguson's cut back but eight minutes before the finish substitute Stephen O'Neill sparked wild celebrations among the Red Army with a far post header.

Mark Holland almost won it for the home side but his low drive was cleared off the line by Paul McAreavey.

Reds assistant boss Tommy Breslin, who was directing operations while manager Eddie Patterson served his suspension by following the thrills and spills from the stand, admitted a draw was a fair result and both teams could be proud of their battling show.

" We maybe edged it in the first half but if I'm being honest Linfield came on strong in the second half but the game finished 2-2, there was a good atmosphere and everything went well on the night so I'm happy," said Breslin.

"Credit to both sets of supporters ? they were impeccably behaved and they made it the spectacle that it was. The only problem for me is I'm losing my hair because of all this excitement!

"Hopefully the Sky viewers enjoyed it and it will encourage some supporters to come here. The Sky guys were saying to me that you wouldn't see that kind of passion in some of their First and Second Division matches."

Jeffrey added: "The two goals we scored were excellent and we had several other chances but I'm gutted with the two goals we conceded. In the end I'm disappointed because we haven't got the three points."

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