Kurtis Byrne (79)

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Kurtis Byrne celebrates scoring Linfield's winner (©INPHO/Jonathan Porter)

KURTIS CLAIMS POINTS FOR BLUES

New signing Kurtis Byrne grabbed Linfield's winner as the Blues defeated Carrick Rangers at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena.

In a first half of few chances, Denver Gage perhaps came close for Rangers on 16 minutes when his glancing header from Eamon McAllister's corner went wide of the target.

At the other end, ten minutes later, Byrne tested Harry Doherty with a low drive but the Carrick 'keeper did well to make the save. Moments later Achille Campion also threatened, breaking clear of the defence but Doherty reacted quickly to snuff out the danger.

And Bryne came even closer on the half-hour when his goal bound effort was blocked on the line by Danny Magill.

Gage had another chance for Carrick just before the break when Chris Morrow found him from a free-kick only for Roy Carroll to charge down his effort from the edge of the six yard box.

Morrow had an opportunity himself just after the hour with a shot that drifted narrowly over the hour while, at the other end, Josh Robinson nodded wide from Matthew Clarke's corner before, not long after that, Doherty saved from Campion.

However, the deadlock was broken on 79 minutes with what proved to be the only goal of the game. Ryan Strain found his way into the area down the left and crossed for Byrne to hammer home an unstoppable back post finish beyond Doherty.

BBC Sport NI coverage

Carrick Rangers: Doherty, Smyth, Edgar, Gage, Chapman, Taggart, McAllister, Morrow, Smith, Mooney, Magill subs Nimick (replaced Smith 72), Roy (replaced Morrow 82), McKenna (not used), Green (not used), Hassin (not used)

Linfield: Carroll, Robinson, Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth, Lowry, Millar, Byrne, M. Clarke, Garrett, Campion subs Adams (not used), Fallon (not used), Mitchell (not used), Quinn (replaced Waterworth 86), Strain (replaced Millar 78)

Referee: Keith Kennedy

Attendance: 763

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Tags:  Carrick Rangers  Linfield