Irn Bru Challenge cup
Iwan Griffith (Wales)
Dundee United Scorer :
Linfield Yellow Card :
Kirk Millar and Jordan Stewart
Linfield Team :
Deane (GK), Haughey, Stafford, Robinson, M.Clarke, Garrett, Mitchell (R.Clarke 79’), Mulgrew ©, Millar, Waterworth (J.Stewart 75’), Burns
Linfield Subs not used :
Moore (GK), Casement, Fallon, Lowry, Adams.
Dundee United Team :
Mehmet (GK), Murdoch (C), N'Koyi, Stanton, Allardice, Smith, Taylor, Ritchie, Hornby (Chalmers 79'), Thomas, Piggott
Both teams had early opportunities, firstly, Sam Stanton drove forward before firing a low drive just past Deane’s far post from the edge of the box. Then, shortly after, Aaron Burns raced onto the end of a through ball and had a go from the angle, but it was well saved by the feet of Deniz Mehmet in the United goal.
Waterworth also went close with just shy of twenty minutes on the clock when he headed a Kirk Millar cross just over the bar following excellent play by Linfield in the build-up.
Gareth Deane displayed he wasn’t just good with his hands as he set Linfield away on the counter-attack with a long pass which ended with Aaron Burns seeing his effort deflected just wide. You could see right from the off that Linfield were there to win, despite many thinking a Dundee United win was a certainty.
Later in the half Burns held the ball up with his back to goal before teeing up the onrushing Robert Garrett, whose fierce drive was well beaten away by Mehmet, before the ball finally broke out to Kirk Millar who was desperately unlucky as his powerful strike whistled past the top corner.
Although Linfield were superb in the first half and arguably their only regret would have been not being in the lead at the break, they were almost hit with a sucker-punch in the closing stages of the half when Matthew Smith cut inside and fired a ferocious strike just over Deane’s crossbar.
Half Time: Dundee United 0-0 Linfield
After an even start to the second half it was the tangerines who went close on the counter attack when Patrick N’Koyi created space in the box before cutting the ball across the box, only for it to be crucially cleared by Mark Haughey who was impressing at right back.
Aaron Burns then arrived at the back post to reach Mitchell’s pinpoint swinging cross, but he headed off target when he should have hit the target.
The inform Millar also threatened for David Healy’s team, getting on the end of Haughey’s cross but his low shot was well saved by Mehmet.
With extra time looking increasingly likely, Healy opted to make a change with Jordan Stewart replacing Andy Waterworth, who had recently returned from injury, and Stewart almost made an immediate impact as he shrugged a defender off the ball before curling an effort at goal, but it was well held by the goalkeeper again.
Dundee United forced a late scare when a counter-attack ended with Graham Taylor hammering the ball off the inside of the post, Deane was beaten all ends up and watched on with his heart in his mouth as Linfield scrambled the ball to safety. Deane also kept United out with an outstretched right arm to palm away a deflected shot that was heading for the corner.
Unfortunately Linfield were struck by a crushing blow in the last minute when Logan Chalmers volleyed in a last minute winner to give Dundee United the win. It will be a hard one for Healy and his team to take after all their hard work but they will have no time to dwell on it with a big game away to Coleraine next weekend.
Full Time: Dundee United 1-0 Linfield
LinfieldFC.com Man of the Match: Robert Garrett