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Cliftonville back on top of Women’s Premiership after seeing off a Linfield fightback

Cliftonville 2 Linfield 5


Cliftonville's Kirsty McGuinness

Cliftonville's Kirsty McGuinness

Cliftonville's Kirsty McGuinness

Cliftonville Ladies are back in front in the race for the Danske Bank Women’s Premiership title after a battling 5-2 victory over Linfield Ladies.

The Reds, who had slipped to second on the back of a defeat to Glentoran Women and the Glens playing more matches, breezed back to the top and now hold a two-point lead with both teams having played nine matches.

Early goals from Erin Montgomery and Niamh Connolly put Cliftonville in control and Fi Morgan added a third before half-time. Linfield fought back through Rebecca Bassett and Rebecca McKenna early in the second-half and they threatened to snatch a point before two late strikes from Kirsty McGuinness secured the win.

The game was only three minutes old when Montgomery struck. Her first touch after getting onto the end of Megan Moran’s right-wing cross wasn’t strong enough to send the ball over the line, but it was close enough to her feet for her to score with her second.

Cliftonville doubled the lead on 15 minutes with a move that went the length of the pitch and owed much to Kirsty McGuinness. She nicked the ball off the toe of Linfield striker Bassett just as she was about to shoot from the edge of the box and, seconds later, Marissa Callaghan delivered a left-wing cross that Connolly tapped in at the far post.

Bassett had a shot comfortably saved by Rachael Norney and then sent a weak effort wide as Linfield worked to get back into the game, but they were hit with a third Reds goal just after the half hour mark. Kirsty McGuinness tapped a corner to Callaghan, who sent in a cross that was almost impossible to defend and Morgan stretched to put the ball over the line at the far post.

Linfield came out strongly at the start of the second period and gave themselves a glimmer of hope with a cool finish at the end of a great move.

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McKenna made a strong run into the Cliftonville half, slipped a pass to Ebony Leckey on the right of the box and her low ball across the face of goal was tucked away by Bassett.

McKenna herself cut the deficit to a single goal on the hour mark when she broke through one-on-one and showed great composure to beat Norney.

After surviving a few nervous moments, Cliftonville made sure of the points 15 minutes from time when they broke from a corner and Callaghan sent Kirsty McGuinness through and she shot across goal to net the fourth and then netted a superb fifth with a 20-yard free kick that crashed off the underside of the crossbar and just over the line.

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