COOPER GOAL ENOUGH AS LINFIELD CONTINUE CUP DEFENCE
An early Joel Cooper goal proved enough to secure victory for holders Linfield over Cliftonville in this BetMcLean League Cup quarter-final at Windsor Park.
What proved to be the only goal of the game came after ten minutes. Kirk Millar's corner was headed towards his own goal by Cliftonville defender Conor McDermott but was cleared by Chris Curran only as far as Cooper who pounced to beat Richard Brush with a first-time effort.
The Blues had a chance to double their advantage midway through the first half when Shayne Lavery was fouled inside the area but his subsequent penalty was saved by Brush with Cooper and Matthew Clarke seeing their follow-up efforts cleared off the line.
Cooper had another chance for Linfield soon after but his right-foot effort went just wide of the target.
Millar had a chance early in the second half to extend Linfield's lead from a Bastien Hery pass but Brush saved easily.
Cliftonville failed to mount a serious challenge as the game progressed with Linfield looking the more likely to score.
Even then, most action was reserved for the final ten minutes. Hery had an effort from distance fall a few yards wide, Clarke tested Brush from the edge of the area before Andrew Waterworth came closest with a shot against the post while Stephen Fallon fired the rebound over.
Linfield: Deane, Callacher, Cooper, Millar, Lavery, Clarke, Fallon, Hery, Mulgrew, McGivern, Quinn subs Ferguson (not used), Robinson (replaced McGivern 42), Waterworth (replaced Lavery 56), Shevlin (not used), Stewart (not used), Mitchell (replaced Mulgrew 90+2), Hume (not used)
Cliftonville: Brush, McDermott, Harney, C. Curran, R. Curran, R. Donnelly, Doherty, Gormley, McMenamin, A. Donnelly, Gorman subs Dunne (not used), McKee (not used), Foster (not used), Wilson (replaced McMenamin 69), Bagnall (replaced McDermott 19), Maguire (replaced Bagnall 78), Rocks (not used)