Roy Carroll (GK), Casement, Callacher, Robinson, Quinn, Fallon, Mulgrew, Millar (Forde 83'), J Stewart, Cooper (Kearns 78'), Waterworth (O'Connor 84')
Linfield picked up a valuable three points as Jordan Stewart netted a hat-trick in a 4-0 win over Warrenpoint at Windsor Park this afternoon.
A strong wind was proving troublesome early on, as Alan O’Sullivan’s cross flew over the head of Roy Carroll with the help of the wind, but thankfully for the experienced goalkeeper the ball didn’t drop into the net.
A slip in the Linfield back line gave Warrenpoint an opportunity to break, as they flowed forward in attack. Alan O’Sullivan found himself venturing into the box and tried to get a shot away but Linfield defender Jimmy Callacher got back well to put a block in.
Tempers flared on 37 minutes when Phillip Donnelly of Warrenpoint Town caught Niall Quinn, and then proceeded to aggressively barge Linfield’s Jamie Mulgrew over. Many in Windsor Park felt it was two bookable offences from the Warrenpoint man, but only one yellow followed. A shoving match followed before Jimmy Callacher was booked, much to his amazement.
Although Linfield were disappointed with how things unfolded, it proved a blessing in disguise as The Blues had the bit between their teeth. After playing with a lot more purpose, the opener soon followed on 40 minutes. Joel Cooper trotted down the left before pulling the ball back for the mercurial Jordan Stewart to slot the ball into the corner from 12 yards with a composed left foot finish.
Half Time: Linfield 1 – 0 Warrenpoint Town
The first chance of the second half fell for Stephen McDonnell’s side when the lively Alan O’Sullivan cut inside from the left before firing straight at Roy Carroll.
Andrew Waterworth almost netted on his 550th Irish League appearance with a diving header from Kirk Millar’s pinpoint cross, but it was well saved by young goalkeeper Jared Thompson, currently on loan from Chelsea FC.
The visitors went within inches of drawing level as a long ball dropped kindly for Phillip Donnelly – he tried to lob Roy Carroll but the ball flew agonisingly past the top corner.
Jordan Stewart gave Linfield a two-goal cushion on 58 minutes. After twisting and turning in the box, he eventually got a shot away, only to see it handled by Warrenpoint defender Anto Reilly. The referee pointed to the spot and Stewart took responsibility, firing the ball into the corner and sending the goalkeeper diving the other way.
Joel Cooper was unlucky not to add a third when he connected well with a volley, but a Warrenpoint man produced a brave block in front of goal.
Waterworth wasn’t to be denied as he made it 248 goals in 550 Irish league appearances. The striker got on the end of Niall Quinn’s free-kick and produced a glancing header into the far corner. An expert finish to make it 3-0.
Three became four on 83 minutes as Jordan Stewart completed his hat-trick. Chris Casement’s cross was intelligently cushioned down by Stephen Fallon into the path of the in-form playmaker to complete his second Linfield hat-trick and his seventh goal of the season.
A bad day for Warrenpoint was compounded with a sending off. Former Linfield Swifts player Matthew Lynch was dismissed for Warrenpoint, picking up a second yellow for pulling back Michael O’Connor.
Full Time: Linfield 4 – 0 Warrenpoint Town
LinfieldFC.com Man of the Match: Jordan Stewart