Re-arranged due to the League Cup Final, Linfield faced Cliftonville looking to get a win that would take them one point behind Crusaders.
Linfield got off to a quick start, with Glenn Belezika bursting through to have a strike on goal, before Andrew Waterworth won a penalty that was finished by Aaron Burns.
Burns almost made it 2-0 soon afterwards, but he was unable to get his head on Ross Clarke’s cross.
Every time Linfield went forward, Cliftonville’s defence look nervous.
It was similar to the meeting in October, when Linfield were made to pay for not making it 2-0 when they were on top.
This time, Linfield made it 2-0 when they were on top, when some nice passing between Aaron Burns and Niall Quinn saw them create the space to cross for Jamie Mulgrew to head home.
Andrew Waterworth had a half-chance to make it 3-0, unable to get enough contact on the ball to fire it into the net, after putting it past the goalkeeper, who had rushed off his line.
Cliftonville weren’t out of it when Joe Gormley got behind Linfield’s defence and forced Ross Glendenning into a save, with the ball going out for a corner.
With Linfield’s lack of clean sheets this season, they needed a 3rd goal, and the best way of getting one seemed to be by passing the ball to Ross Clarke for him to run at Cliftonville’s defence. The only way they could stop him was by committing cynical fouls.
As the minutes went by, Cliftonville didn’t offer much and didn’t look like scoring, until a long ball up the field saw substitute Martin Murray beat Sean Ward to the ball, and finish in off the post. It was poor from Ward, he should have either won the ball, or made sure he won a free-kick. He shouldn’t have been giving Murray a sight at goal.
Suddenly, Cliftonville had a lifeline.
It was clear that Linfield needed new blood on the field, but the only change that was made was an enforced one, when Matthew Clarke came on for the injured Niall Quinn.
There was one more sub. It was a sub which is becoming a cliched Feeney sub, bringing on a centre midfielder for a striker when defending a one goal lead. Usually, it is Seanan Clucas, tonight it was Stephen Lowry, coming on for Sammy Morrow.
It was another long ball forward that got Cliftonville an equaliser, when Joe Gormley was able to get space for Murray to fire home his second.
That wasn’t the end of the drama. Cliftonville having a goalbound shot saved by Glendenning, while a goalmouth scramble saw Linfield have an effort cleared off the line, and Andrew Waterworth had a shot saved in injury time.
It’s easy to say he should have shot, bit you can’t blame him for shooting when in that position.
Linfield might have cut Crusaders lead at the top to three points. In reality, it was three points thrown away.