Carroll (GK), Stafford, Haughey (C), Waterworth, Lowry, J. Stewart (Ryan Strain 61’), Millar (Mitchell 83’), M. Clarke, Casement, Garrett, Quinn
Robinson, Rooney, R. Clarke
Addis, Armstrong, Mayse, Harpur, O'Rourke, Lowe, Clucas, McMenamin (Fitzpatrick 75’), Burke (A Teggart 60’), Hutchinson (McMahon 72’), Lafferty
Linfield had to dig deep to earn the three points against Dungannon Swifts this afternoon with Andy Waterworth’s second half header proving the difference between the two teams.
David Healy was down to the bare bones in terms of attacking selection with Cameron Stewart and Aaron Burns picking up knocks last week and missing out today. Therefore, Jordan Stewart moved up front beside Waterworth as Kirk Millar came back in to play on the right of midfield. A positive was the return of Louis Rooney - he was fit enough to make the bench following a brace for Linfield Swifts during the week. Other than that, Linfield were unchanged from last week’s win away to Glenavon.
The Blues broke at pace from a Dungannon corner in the early stages as Kirk Millar found Jordan Stewart in space. Stewart played a through ball to the galloping Waterworth but his effort whistled just wide from a tight angle.
Millar then picked out Waterworth in the middle with a pinpoint cross before the striker turned and hit a volley on the stretch, only for Stuart Addis to show safe hands to gather at the first attempt.
Dungannon looked certain to take the lead on 17 minutes when Swifts captain Ryan Harpur got on the end of a floated cross to the back post. He headed on target but Roy Carroll came up with a superb save.
Waterworth went close once more before the break when Kirk Millar delivered another good cross from the right. This time Waterworth headed just over from close range as the teams went into the break level. The Swifts were much the happier given all of Linfield’s possession. The Blues just couldn’t find a way through and Dungannon looked a threat on the counter.
Half Time: Linfield 0 – 0 Dungannon Swifts
Dungannon went close against the run of play on 57 minutes when Cormac Burke’s corner was headed just over by central defender David Armstrong, with the former Linfield defender heading onto the roof of the net.
Young striker Ryan Strain was brought on as a substitute and almost made an immediate impact as he fired just wide of the post following Matthew Clarke’s low cross.
Strain went agonisingly close again minutes later, running from inside the Dungannon half before firing a vicious strike just over the bar, to the relief of Dungannon goalkeeper Stuart Addis.
The breakthrough Linfield searched long and hard for finally arrived on 67 minutes, as Andy Waterworth guided a header into the corner with class from Matthew Clarke’s inviting cross.
Strain almost doubled the Blues’ advantage shortly after and it has to be said, his introduction lifted the team and supporters. This time he broke through numerous challenges before firing a half-volley at goal, only to see his effort beaten away by Addis.
Roy Carroll came to Linfield’s rescue ten minutes from time when Peter McMahon raced clear on a mazy run before seeing his shot blocked by the experienced goalkeeper. A monumental points winning save in the game.
McMahon went close again with a speculative effort, picking up the ball on the edge of the box and firing a dipping volley onto the roof of the net when it looked to be heading in for a second.
The Blues held on for a hard earned win and Roy Carroll’s important saves earned him the ‘Man of the Match’ award on a chilly Saturday afternoon where the Blues wrapped up a third consecutive and vitally important win in the league campaign.
Full Time: Linfield 1-0 Dungannon Swifts
LinfieldFC.com Man of the Match: Roy Carroll