Irish Premiership: Carrick Rangers 0-1 Linfield

Kurtis Byrne hits a 79th-minute winner as Linfield beat Carrick Rangers at Taylor's Avenue

A 79th-minute goal by striker Kurtis Byrne on his Premiership debut gave Linfield a 1-0 win over Carrick Rangers in Tuesday's rearranged league game.

The victory moves Linfield into fourth place in the table, two points ahead of Cliftonville, while Carrick remain six clear of Ballinamallard at the bottom.

David McAlinden's side have now gone 15 matches without a win.

Both sides created chances but recent Blues signing Byrne volleyed home at the back post to secure the victory.

Substitute Ryan Strain set up the former St Patrick's Athletic forward for his first goal for the club soon after his introduction from the bench.

Linfield fashioned several opportunities on a pitch which resembled a quagmire in patches but found home goalkeeper Harry Doherty in fine form.

Byrne and fellow recent recruit Achille Campion were denied by the Carrick stopper, while Stephen Lowry, Mark Haughey, Josh Robinson and Kirk Millar also went close for the champions, while Danny Magill cleared off the line.

Denver Gage saw a header flash past the post and had a shot well saved by Roy Carroll, while Chris Morrow was off-target with his second-half effort.

Byrne and Campion, who is on loan from Cork City, made their debuts for the Blues in Saturday's Irish Cup win and looked threatening throughout this keenly contested top-flight encounter.

For Linfield, it was a second win of the season over Carrick but their hopes of challenging for the Gibson Cup appear remote as they still lie 14 points behind pacesetters Crusaders, with one match in hand.

The Windsor Park outfit had lost their previous two league outings against Glentoran and Crusaders.

Carrick have not won a league game since defeating Dungannon Swifts 2-1 in mid-October.

What they said

Linfield manager David Healy: "It was raining heavily on a heavy pitch and the wind was swirling so it was difficult conditions. We knew to expect a tough test as Carrick are fighting for their lives and I know the temperament of their manager. so they were never going to lie down and let us roll over them.

"We were looking for a wee bit of magic and cleverness and thankfully Ryan Strain gave us that wee bit of brightness and Kurtis (Byrne) was able to put the ball in the back of the net."

Carrick manager David McAlinden: "We were undone by a bit of quality and a decent finish but we showed good endeavour and attitude and looked like we believed we could win the game.

"Credit to the players, we defended superbly, marshalled them well and Harry Doherty made some good saves, but ultimately we come away with nothing."

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