Linfield made it 4 league wins from the first 4 league games, with tonight’s 5-0 win at New Midgley Park against Cliftonville.
All the goals were scored in the first half, with Kirsty McGuinness (2), sister Caitlin McGuinness, Casey Howe and Louise McDaniel all on the scoresheet.
Linfield have yet to concede a league goal and the Blues are the early season pacesetters in the league table, ahead of strong Sion Swifts and Glentoran teams close behind in 2nd and 3rd place respectively.
Tonight’s Linfield team was the same starting line up as the team that won 3-0 away to Glentoran last week but returning from injury on the bench were Ashley Hutton and Louise McFrederick.
The team lined up
1 - Lauren Perry
18 - Rebecca McKenna
25 - Naomi Donnan
19 - Abbie Magee
14 - Kelsie Burrows
97 - Chloe McCarron
24 - Casey Howe
7 - Megan Bell
22 - Louise McDaniel
26 - Caitlin McGuinness
11 - Kirsty McGuinness
9 - Rebecca Bassett - replaced Casey Howe
16 - Clare Timoney - replaced Rebecca McKenna
3 - Louise McFrederick - replaced Naomi Donnan
5 - Ashley Hutton
12 - Nicole Adams
Linfield took the lead in the 3rd minute. A blistering shot from Casey Howe from 30 yards came crashing back off the crossbar and the rebound fell to Kirsty McGuinness left side of the box. Her efforts to get past the full back were prevented, as she was up ended and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. McGuinness confidently sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot for her first goal of the season and giving Linfield an early advantage.
Cliftonville fought back strongly and had several opportunities to equalise - most notably when their captain Marissa Callaghan turned cleverly on the edge of the box but from a good position, curled her shot wide of the post. On another occasion, Linfield defender Kelsie Burrows did well to get back on the line to scramble a goal bound scuffed effort off the line to maintain Linfield’s advantage.
At this stage, it was an open end to end game with both teams looking likely to score when on the attack but the game turned decisively in the 29th minute when Linfield added a second goal.
A teasing left wing cross by Kirsty McGuinness to the back post was met by the onrushing Louise McDaniel who fired into the net from close range to double Linfield’s advantage.
Linfield grew in confidence and continued to create chances and it was no surprise when a third goal was added after 33 minutes. This time it was a right wing Caitlin McGuinness cross (after she’d dispossessed a Cliftonville defender) that found elder sister Kirsty at the back post and she made no mistake from close range for her second goal of the evening.
Linfield added two goals from two young stars in the closing stages of the first half. Firstly, Caitlin McGuinness was again the provider this time for Casey Howe (aged 16 years 8 months) to shoot from the edge of the box for Linfield’s fourth goal.
In the final minute of the half, a short Kirsty McGuinness corner freed Megan Bell to provide the left wing cross which was headed in at the back post by Caitlin McGuinness (also aged 16 years 8 months) for her first senior goal and which sent Linfield into a comfortable interval lead.
Half time - Linfield 5 Cliftonville 0
Linfield continued to threaten and create further openings but were unable to add to their goal tally.
Chloe McCarron fired just over, Megan Bell shot wide, Kirsty McGuinness came close to a hat trick goal on several occasions and younger sister Caitlin had an effort well saved by the visiting keeper when in a good position.
Linfield had two goals chalked off due to an offside flag, as a sixth goal proved elusive and Cliftonville defended resolutely.
Linfield introduced Rebecca Bassett for Casey Howe with half an hour remaining and were then able to replace Rebecca McKenna and Naomi Donnan with experienced Clare Timoney and Louise McFrederick.
Overall, it was a stunning performance and result against highly talented opponents.
Ronnie Morrison Player of the Match - Kirsty McGuinness
Match sponsored by Mervyn and Elizabeth Bryson.
Final score - Linfield 5 Cliftonville 0
Linfield are next in action on May 22 in an 8pm kick off against Comber Rec at New Midgley Park