Irish Premier League
Linfield Scorers :
Mark Stafford 65', Jamie Mulgrew 70'
Linfield Yellow Card :
Carrick Rangers Yellow Cards :
Linfield Team :
Alex Moore (GK), Mark Haughey, Jimmy Callacher, Mark Stafford, Niall Quinn. Kirk Millar, Jamie Mulgrew ©, Robert Garrett, Stephen Fallon, Achille Campion (Kurtis Byrne 57’), Andy Waterworth (Ryan Strain 25’)
Linfield Subs not used :
Robinson, Mitchell, Rooney
Carrick Rangers Team :
Harry Doherty (GK), Mark Edgar, Patrick McNally, Lee Chapman, Gavin Taggart (Liam Hassin 63'), Jonathan Smith (Michael Smith 69’), Daniel Larmour (Andrew Mooney 80’), Ralph Kottoy, Darren Henderson, Damien McNulty, Julien Anau
Carrick Rangers were the visitors as Linfield were aiming to bounce back with a win following defeat last time out when they lost to Glenavon 11 days ago. Roy Carroll remained sidelined and Gareth Deane also picked up a recent injury, meaning a start for 19 year-old Linfield Academy graduate Alex Moore. Mark Haughey, Stephen Fallon and Robert Garrett all came into the team after spells on the sidelines.
The Blues pressed and were on top for most of the first half but they just couldn’t find the breakthrough as Harry Doherty impressed in goal for the visitors. The returning Robert Garrett was first to call the Carrick goalkeeper into action with a strike from distance but it was well beaten away with the ball rebounding over the head of Campion who must have thought he was going to have a tap-in.
Linfield skipper Jamie Mulgrew was next to threaten in the opening ten minutes when he set off on a trademark driving run, advancing into the area before getting a shot away only to see it clawed away. Minutes later, Niall Quinn was also denied as his 25 yard free-kick was also well saved.
Unfortunately, Linfield were dealt a disappointing blow midway through the first half when Andy Waterworth had to depart through injury, after being on the end of a physical challenge earlier in the half. He couldn’t recover and was replaced by 18 year-old Ryan Strain.
The final ten minutes of the first half saw Linfield go close on two occasions but the opener wouldn’t come. Firstly, Mark Haughey got a powerful glancing header to the end of Niall Quinn’s corner, only to see Doherty produce another fine save. Jimmy Callacher was also unlucky when he headed Millar’s delivery downwards with the bounce taking the ball just over the crossbar with the goalkeeper struggling.
Half Time: Linfield 0 – 0 Carrick Rangers
Young Ryan Strain was first to threaten in the second half when he brought the ball down on his chest before turning neatly and firing a left-footed strike just wide of the post, a very good effort.
The deadlock finally came for David Healy’s side on 65 minutes when Niall Quinn - one of Linfield’s best performers this afternoon – fizzed in an inviting free-kick from the left and up popped Mark Stafford to bury a powerful header past Harry Doherty to give Linfield a deserved lead.
The Blues kicked on to make it two on 70 minutes. Captain Jamie Mulgrew went on a surging run before producing a sumptuous finish from 25 yards. A goal of sheer quality as he found the top corner with an effort with the outside of his right foot. Magnificent technique for his first goal of the season.
Mark Stafford was very unlucky not to grab his second and Linfield’s third of the afternoon, getting a powering header to Stephen Fallon’s diagonal cross only to be denied by a magnificent one-handed save from Harry Doherty.
Kurtis Byrne almost put the icing on the cake late on as he fired a volley just wide of the top corner but manager David Healy will be satisfied with the three points and clean sheet for young Alex Moore who looked assured despite having little to do.
Full Time: Linfield 2 – 0 Carrick Rangers
LinfieldFC.com Man of the Match : Mark Stafford