10th November 2017
Irish Premier League
Linfield Scorer :
Robert Garrett 3'
Ballymena United Scorers :
Conor McCloskey 53', Jonathan McMurray 61'
Linfield Yellow Card :
Robert Garrett X2
Linfield Red Card :
Robert Garrett - second bookable offence on 87 minutes.
Ballymena United Yellow Cards :
Gary Thompson, Andrew Burns
Linfield Team :
Deane (GK), Casement (Brandon Adams 77’), Stafford, Haughey (C), M.Clarke, Garrett, Lowry, Millar, J.Stewart, Rooney (Aaron Burns 70’), Waterworth.
Linfield Subs not used :
Stephen Fallon, Niall Quinn and Andrew Mitchell.
Ballymena United Team :
Glendinning (GK), Ervin ©, Andrew Burns (McCaffrey 90’), Flynn (McCullough 45’), Kofi Balmer, McCloskey (Kane 88’), Thompson, Faulkner, Leroy Millar, J. McMurray, Cathair Friel.
Ballymena United Subs not used :
Matthew Shevlin and Joe McKinney.
Linfield remain 11 points adrift of league leaders Coleraine after losing at the Ballymena Showgrounds tonight for the first time in the league since 2012. Despite the Blues leading 1-0 at half-time, Ballymena struck a quickfire double in the second half to turn the game on its head and Linfield had no response.
Linfield got off to a fine start as they raced into an early lead, Robert Garrett finding the bottom corner with a crisp low strike from distance to make it 1-0 to the Blues in the third minute for what was his first goal of his second spell back at Windsor Park.
One almost became two a short time later as Stephen Lowry went agonisingly close, as the midfielder had a go with a fierce drive that United midfielder McCloskey did superbly well to clear off the line.
Chris Casement was next to threaten as he advanced down the right wing before making his way into the box before seeing his shot crucially blocked by Sky Blue defender Andrew Burns, who is, of course, the twin brother of Linfield attacker Aaron Burns.
Ballymena had a spell of pressure around the half-hour mark but were unable to make it count as Conor McCloskey headed just over from a corner before Linfield were back up the other end and asking questions. Firstly, former Linfield ‘keeper Ross Glendinning did well to clutch Jordan Stewart’s shot across goal before denying Robert Garrett a second, clawing away his well-struck strike from distance.
Half Time: Ballymena United 0-1 Linfield
David Jeffrey’s team levelled the scoreline eight minutes into the second half and it was a stunning goal as Conor McCloskey found the top corner with a free-kick from considerable distance.
And things were to get even better for the Sky Blues on 61 minutes as they got their noses in front, with striker Jonathan McMurray lobbing the ball over Gareth Deane from distance with good technique, just moments after Louis Rooney had fired a good chance past the post at the other end.
Ballymena should have put the game beyond doubt in the closing stages when the ball fell to Jonathan McMurray after Deane failed to deal with a corner, however the striker blazed a shot over from close range.
What started off looking like a great night for Robert Garrett ended in bitter disappointment as the Linfield midfielder received his marching orders for a second bookable offence three minutes from time.
It’s sheer disappointment from Linfield’s perspective and with a midweek trip to Seaview on the horizon for a crunch League Cup tie, followed by league fixtures against the current top two of Coleraine and Glenavon, this result means that these next few weeks will be crucial in Linfield’s season and David Healy will have to rally his troops once again.
Full Time: Ballymena United 2-1 Linfield