BLUES EDGE IT AT WINDSOR
Linfield edged to victory over Cliftonville in a closely fought encounter at Windsor Park.
Scoreless at the break, Linfield's best opportunity came on 31 minutes when Kyle Lafferty almost marked his debut with a goal only to miss the target from close range while, for the Reds, Levi Ives was denied at the near post by Chris Johns.
The Blues squandered a great chance early in the second half after Kirk Millar found Chris McKee who could only fire over from inside the six yard box.
Linfield came close again from a Chris Shields free-kick which Michael Newberry failed to send past keeper Nathan Gartside.
But the deadlock was broken just before the hour. Again Millar provided the ball from the right for the inrushing Matthew Clarke but, in his attempt to cut out the danger, the unfortunate Kris Lowe could only send the ball into his own net.
David Healy's side almost doubled their lead but Rory Hale made a goalline clearance to thwart another McKee effort.
Cliftonville came close to snatching a late equaliser when, in the closing moments, Ronan Hale hit the woodwork while Joe Gormley's subsequent follow up was ruled out offside.
Linfield: Johns, Roscoe, Newberry, Shields, Millar, Cooper, M. Clarke, McKee, Finlayson, Mulgrew, Lafferty subs McClean, Hall, Devine, Haygarth, Pepper, Quinn, Annett
Cliftonville: Gartside, Ives, Addis, Gallagher, Rory Hale, Parkhouse, Lowe, R. Doherty, Ronan Hale, Coates, Moore subs G. Doherty, C. Curran, McDonagh, Traynor, Gormley, Casey, Turner