Gareth Deane (GK), Mark Haughey, Jimmy Callacher (Andrew Mitchell 90’), Mark Stafford, Niall Quinn. Kirk Millar, Jamie Mulgrew ©, Stephen Lowry, Jordan Stewart (Ryan Strain 87’), Louis Rooney (Kurtis Byrne 87’), Andy Waterworth
Linfield travelled to the Q Radio Arena, Warrenpoint to take on Matthew Tipton’s Warrenpoint Town in this evening’s rearranged Danske Bank Premiership fixture. It was a night of milestones for a Linfield duo. Legendary Captain Jamie Mulgrew made his 500th Linfield appearance, joining Alex Russell, William Murphy, Noel Bailie MBE, George Dunlop and Tommy Dickson in the 500+ club, whilst winger Kirk Millar made his 150th appearance for Linfield after rejoining from Oldham Athletic in the Summer of 2014.
The Blues were once again without goalkeeper Roy Carroll, striker Achille Campion and attacking midfielder Stephen Fallon due to injuries. Joe Crowe was eligible for a Linfield debut after serving a suspension in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Newry City in the Irish Cup sixth round.
The first half was very open with both teams playing attacking football. The first near miss came after ten minutes when the ball sat up invitingly for Martin Murray to fire a strike at goal from distance but he drilled a half-volley just wide.
Warrenpoint opened the scoring on 19 minutes. Highly rated prospect Lorcan Forde caused mayhem in the Linfield box before seeing his shot superbly saved by Blues ‘keeper Gareth Deane, although Linfield’s inability to clear the danger allowed Alan Davidson the chance to ghost in and poke the ‘Point into the lead.
Linfield almost hit back immediately when Millar’s cross found Jordan Stewart at the back post but his shot was crucially blocked by Stephen Moan. The equaliser did arrive shortly after, however, as Jimmy Callacher rose well and produced a nice guided header into the net to convert from Kirk Millar’s corner on 24 minutes, opening his account for the season.
Linfield kicked on and really started to press but unfortunately, couldn’t quite get their noses in front before the break. Louis Rooney raced into space before firing a low strike just past the far post. Mulgrew almost made his 500th appearance a goalscoring one when he lobbed at goal with the goalkeeper out of his net but his effort didn’t quite dip enough to hit the target.
The Blues’ final chance of the half came a few minutes before the break when Mark Haughey got a head on Niall Quinn’s corner, but he headed just over the crossbar..
Half Time: Warrenpoint Town 1– 1 Linfield
Jordan Stewart produced some trickery down the left to make room for a cross before finding Louis Rooney at the back post but he headed just over. Up the other end, Gareth Deane produced a great outstretched save to push away Lorcan Forde’s cross.
It was like two buses coming along at once for Jimmy Callacher as he added his and Linfield’s second on 74 minutes. Another tidy delivery from Kirk Millar from the corner, Callacher got a strong header at goal and although his header was blocked on the line he was able to bundle Linfield in front with 15 minutes remaining.
Ironically, Callacher very nearly found himself taking home the match ball, as he produced another powering header on goal only to see it cleared off the line by Seanna Foster on 82 mins.
Linfield made sure of the points on 85 minutes and it came from yet another Kirk Millar corner on his 150th Linfield appearance for his third assist of the night, this time it was a powerful header from Mark Haughey that left the goalkeeper watching on with the Blues going 3-1 ahead.
A morale boosting victory for the Blues who looked back to their best at set pieces and a valuable three points to move into fourth position, the only concern coming late on as Jimmy Callacher departed holding his hamstring after a very impressive performance.
Full Time: Warrenpoint Town 1 – 3 Linfield