Roy Carroll (GK), Chris Casement (Trialist 45’ – Joe Crowe 59’), Jimmy Callacher (Stafford), Josh Robinson, Matthew Clarke, Kirk Millar (Stephen Fallon 59’), Andrew Mitchell (Robert Garrett 45’), Niall Quinn (Jamie Mulgrew 45’), Joel Cooper (Brandon Doyle 59’), Jordan Stewart (Jonathan Smith 59’), Daniel Kearns (Daniel Reynolds 59’)
Linfield continued pre-season preparations with a second win in as many outings with victory over Bangor by the sunny seaside this afternoon. It proved to be a worthwhile runout for the Blues with manager David Healy able to give game time to 19 players.
The Blues started brightly and only for heroics from Bangor goalkeeper Darren Gibbons they would have been ahead in the opening minutes. Firstly, Niall Quinn – who was operating in central midfield – had a clean strike from 20 yards pushed brilliantly around the post when it looked destined for the bottom corner. In the fourth minute, the ‘keeper pulled out another stunning save to push a powerful strike from Kirk Millar onto the post.
Joel Cooper also threatened early on, but the opener was on its way and what a fine goal from Jordan Stewart it was. The attacker dazzled his way inside from the right before shifting the ball onto his left to unleash a well-placed shot into the net from the edge of the box on seven minutes.
New signing Daniel Kearns looked lively and he also tried his luck with a decent effort, firing a shot just past the far upright from a tight angle. Bangor mounted an attack themselves on 13 minutes but it was well dealt with by Josh Robinson on the cover.
Jordan Stewart almost added to his and Linfield’s goal with a piece of individual brilliance, dancing his way through three or four Bangor players in the box, but he eventually ran out of room and the ‘keeper did well to block before the ball was cleared off the line.
The Bangor shot-stopper denied Stewart again before the break with another top-class stop, this time getting a fingertip to push Stewart’s curling effort away for a corner. The teams went into the break with Linfield leading 1-0, and only for the brilliance of Gibbons it would have been a bigger lead.
Half Time: Bangor 0 – 1 Linfield
David Healy introduced captain Jamie Mulgrew, Robert Garrett and a trialist at the break and the Blues responded by doubling their lead within two minutes of the restart. The lively Daniel Kearns linked up well with full back Matthew Clarke, who stormed up the pitch before firing home a sweetly-struck drive low into the net from 20 yards out.
The Trialists afternoon only lasted 14 minutes, however, as Joe Crowe replaced him on 59 minutes. The right back was knocked down moments before and seemed to pick up a knock.
Bangor’s big chance arrived shortly after Linfield’s second goal as Mark Magennis threaded an intelligent pass through to send Jordan Lucas on his way, but he fired straight at Roy Carroll from the edge of the box.
Joel Cooper was next to threaten but he couldn’t make it two goals in as many games, firing over after Daniel Kearns pulled the ball across the box for the former Glenavon player.
Jonathan Smith impressed in his 31 minutes on the pitch and was unlucky not to make it three on 70 minutes when he showed superb skill to nutmeg a defender on the edge of the box, but he struck the post with his shot.
The Blues rounded off a pleasing afternoon with a late third as Stephen Fallon’s free-kick found its way into the net with the help of a big deflection off a Bangor defender.
Thanks to Bangor FC for the friendly and best wishes to the Seasiders as they celebrate their centenary year this year.
Full Time: Bangor 0 – 3 Linfield