Match Details
Season :
2017/2018
Date :
26th August 2017
Competition :
Irish Premier League
Venue :
Windsor Park
Referee :
Evan Boyce
Linfield Scorer :
Andrew Mitchell (PEN) 77'
Linfield Yellow Cards :
Garrett, Lowry
Ballymena United Yellow Cards :
Kane, Flynn
Ballymena United Red Card :
Burns 79'
Teams
Linfield Team :
Carroll (GK), Casement, Haughey, Stafford, Quinn, Millar, Mulgrew ©, Garrett (Lowry 64’), Mitchell, J.Stewart (Burns 25’), Smyth
Linfield Subs not used :
Robinson, C.Stewart, M.Clarke
Ballymena United Team :
Brennan (GK), Ervin, Owens, Flynn, Burns, McKinney (Faulkner 45’), Thompson, T.Kane, McCloskey, McCaffrey (McCullough 84’), Friel (Shevlin 84’)
Ballymena United Subs not used :
Gault, Glendinning
Report
Linfield threatened for the first time on nine minutes when Paul Smyth danced around Kyle Owens before firing a low cross by the face of goal. However, there was no player in a blue shirt following up to take advantage.

Roy Carroll then kept the visitors out with a smart save as he palmed Joe McKinney’s deflected shot around the post.

Blues boss David Healy was forced into an early change as a frustrated Jordan Stewart departed as a result of an early challenge by a Ballymena United defender.

The best move of the first half saw Linfield go close again as Kirk Millar’s deep cross was cushioned down into Garrett’s path by the head of Casement, only for the onrushing Garrett to see his low strike whistle past the far post.

The first half was arguably one of frustration for Linfield due to Jordan Stewart’s injury and a struggle to break down Ballymena United’s sturdy defensive performance. The Sky Blues were happy to soak up pressure and hit Linfield on the counter attack.

Half Time: Linfield 0 – 0 Ballymena United

Ballymena stormed out of the traps early in the second half and Roy Carroll produced a magnificent save as he tipped over Kyle Owens’ scorching effort on the half-turn.

The Blues went agonisingly close to the opener on 55 minutes when Mark Haughey saw his downward header from Kirk Millar’s corner cleared off the line by former Linfield defender and current United captain Jim Ervin.

Minutes later, Mark Stafford played in Paul Smyth whose cross-come-shot from the angle was well saved by Conor Brennan in the United goal before Ervin knocked the ball out for a corner.

Paul Smyth almost brought the Linfield fans to their feet was a superb curling effort which was crucially tipped over by Conor Brennan.

Linfield were awarded a penalty on 77 minutes when Paul Smyth found Mitchell with a beautifully weighted pass, Mitchell cut inside and was caught by the lunging Johnny Flynn. New spot-kick taker Mitchell fired the ball into the bottom right corner, sending Brennan the wrong way for his second goal in as many games. The Blues finally had the breakthrough they were searching long and hard for.

Just two minutes later Ballymena were reduced to ten men following a really poor, late challenge by Andrew Burns on Jamie Mulgrew. After prolonged treatment, Mulgrew was thankfully able to continue playing.

The Blues got the job done in the end which was a credit to their patience in a tough encounter to make it four wins, four clean sheets and 12 points from a possible 12.

Full Time: Linfield 1 – 0 Ballymena United

LinfieldFC.com Man of the Match: Mark Haughey

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