23rd September 2019
Irish Premier League
Linfield Scorers :
Niall Quinn 45’, Reece Neale o.g. 65’, Mark Stafford 75'
Linfield Yellow Card :
Carrick Rangers Yellow Card :
Linfield Team :
Rohan Ferguson (GK), Mark Stafford (Ross Larkin 85’), Ryan McGivern, Jimmy Callacher (C), Kirk Millar, Bastien Hery (Andrew Mitchell 76’), Stephen Fallon, Niall Quinn, Joel Cooper, Andrew Waterworth (Daniel Reynolds 89’), Shayne Lavery
Linfield Subs not used :
Gareth Deane (GK), Matthew Clarke, Trai Hume, Matthew Shevlin
Carrick Rangers Team :
Aaron Hogg (GK), Reece Neale, Mark Surgenor ©, Christopher Rodgers, Lee Chapman, William Faulkner, Daniel Kelly, James Ferrin (Caolan Loughran 73’), Lloyd Anderson (Liam Hassin 60’), Michael Smith (Keke 67’), Stewart Nixon
Carrick Rangers Subs not used :
Liam McAuley (GK), Mark Carson, Abbi Sanusi, Ashton McDermott
Linfield recorded a hard-fought League victory away to Carrick Rangers at a windswept Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena in front of the Sky Sports cameras this evening.
The Blues were without injured quartet Chris Casement, Daniel Kearns, Jordan Stewart and captain Jamie Mulgrew. David Healy reverted to a back three with Ryan McGivern coming in for Casement and Stephen Fallon stepping into midfield beside Hery, in place of Mulgrew. Joel Cooper played in an advance role behind the strike partnership of Lavery and Waterworth.
The conditions were difficult, with a strong wind and rain bucketing down but it led to an intriguing game with Carrick using the wind to their advantage in the first half. Both teams went close in the opening minutes. Firstly, Daniel Kelly headed over from William Faulkner’s corner inside the box after a Linfield defensive error. Soon after, Niall Quinn whipped in an inviting corner and Mark Stafford fired a powerful header just past the post.
Daniel Kelly forced a save from Rohan Ferguson when he headed Stewart Nixon’s long throw at goal and the resulting corner saw a goalmouth scramble before Carrick defender Chris Rodgers blasted over from a great position. Nixon then fired in a dangerous cross to the back post for the outstretched Reece Neale whose low shot was smothered by Ferguson. The lively Nixon threatened himself when he went around Ferguson before hitting the side netting from a tight angle for Carrick, who were quick out of the blocks.
The Blues nearly broke the deadlock after a Carrick onslaught when Joel Cooper fired in a great cross but Shayne Lavery couldn’t quite get a connection inside the box before Andy Waterworth saw his shot blocked on the follow-up. Kirk Millar also had a shot blocked after cutting inside from the right side in a fast-paced first half.
Later in the half, Carrick striker Michael Smith was slipped in but his low shot was well held by Ferguson. Then ‘The Blues’ finished off a difficult first half in the best possible way as Niall Quinn broke the deadlock. The wing-back kept dribbling his way through the middle of the pitch before venturing towards the edge of the box and firing the ball low into the far corner, a pinpoint corner on his weaker side to send David Healy’s men into the break with a slender lead.
Half Time: Carrick Rangers 0 – 1 Linfield
Niall Quinn almost netted his and Linfield’s second goal of the night but he was desperately unlucky to see his fierce shot strike the crossbar from a central position 25 yards from goal.
Ryan McGivern almost scored a spectacular goal when his venomous shot from 35 yards was superbly saved by the diving Aaron Hogg, just as it looked destined for the top corner.
The woodwork was rattled again, this time by Shayne Lavery as Linfield knocked on the door for a second. It was a trademark header by the striker from Kirk Millar’s corner which struck the bar before Carrick scrambled the ball clear.
A golden opportunity arrived for Carrick when Michael Smith found Reece Neale on the edge of the box and his driven low shot flashed agonisingly wide of the far post with Ferguson beaten.
Carrick were made to rue their missed chance as Linfield’s second arrived on 65 minutes. Kirk Millar’s well-struck free-kick from out left found the far top corner with the help of a significant touch from unfortunate ‘Gers defender Reece Neale.
The Blues added a third goal 15 minutes before the end from a trusty set-piece. Kirk Millar fired in a deep free-kick and Mark Stafford ran free at the back post to glance a header into the bottom corner as the big defender netted his third goal of the season. The outstanding defender was later removed after a head injury, a disappointing end to the night after a fine display.
Sky player of the match - Kirk Millar
Linfield player of the match - Niall Quinn
Full Time: Carrick Rangers 0 – 3 Linfield