Irish Premier League
Linfield Scorers :
Joel Cooper 34', 43'
Ballymena United Scorer :
Callacher OG 89'
Linfield Yellow Card :
Linfield Team :
Rohan Ferguson (GK), Mark Stafford, Jimmy Callacher, Ryan McGivern, Matthew Clarke, Stephen Fallon, Jamie Mulgrew ©, Kirk Millar, Bastien Hery (Charlie Allen 86’), Joel Cooper (Jordan Stewart 67’), Shayne Lavery (Andy Waterworth 77’)
Linfield Subs not used :
Gareth Deane (GK), Ross Larkin, Trai Hume, Matthew Shevlin
Ballymena United Team :
Ross Glendinning (GK), Scot Whiteside (Andrew Burns 45’), Jonathan Addis, Jim Ervin ©, Andy McGrory, Ryan Harpur, Jude Winchester, Joshua Kelly, Leroy Millar, Steven McCullough, Kenny Kane (Cathair Friel 45’)
Ballymena United Subs not used :
Jordan Williamson (GK), Ryan Mayse, Declan Carville, Ross Lavery, Shane McGinty
A brace from Joel Cooper helped Linfield to three points against Ballymena United at Windsor Park this afternoon in what was a professional performance from The Blues.
Linfield almost took the lead just inside ten minutes when the in-form Joel Cooper weaved his way down the left and past a Ballymena defender to make space for a low cross, he picked out Kirk Millar in the middle but he fired his shot the wrong side of Glendinning’s post.
David Jeffrey’s Ballymena United went close early on too, when Kenny Kane’s cross into the middle was headed by the far post by Andy McGrory after a good spell for the visitors.
Leroy Millar went even closer for the Sky Blues with an excellent effort from distance. The big midfielder picked up the ball in the Linfield half and ventured towards the edge of the box before curling an effort against the crossbar.
The breakthrough came on 34 minutes and for the champions. The ever-impressive Cooper was the man who fired Linfield in front. He picked up the ball 25 yards from goal and despite being surrounded by a number of United players, he manoeuvred space to get the ball onto his stronger left foot before firing a low strike into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Cooper netted his and Linfield’s second of the afternoon just ten minutes later. The ball was worked out wide right and Kirk Millar picked up a customary assist, whipping the ball into the box where Cooper did well to control and fire past Glendinning on his right foot.
Half Time: Linfield 2 – 0 Ballymena United
The second half was less lively and twenty minutes into it Linfield were dealt a blow as the excellent Cooper had to be taken off after being on the end of a hard challenge. In brighter news for Linfield, he was replaced by Jordan Stewart, fit again after almost two months out injured.
United had a good chance to pull one back on 72 minutes when a free-kick wasn’t properly dealt with and the ball dropped for defender Andrew Burns but he could only find the side netting.
Matthew Clarke was playing higher than usual on the left side and it almost led to a third Linfield goal when he burst forward, twisting and turning past three Ballymena men but his shot eventual flashed wide of goal.
Stewart’s eyes lit up when a miscued clearance fell into his path into the box, he leathered a strike at goal but Jim Ervin threw his body on the line to make a vital block.
Ballymena put the cat amongst the pigeons when they puled a goal back in the 89th minute. Andy McGrory put a dangerous cross in from the right hand side and Jimmy Callacher was unlucky as his attempt to stop the cross ended up squeezing below ‘keeper Rohan Ferguson, however, Healy’s men were able to see out the win.
Full Time: Linfield 2 – 1 Ballymena United
LinfieldFC.com Man of the Match: Joel Cooper