21st February 2020
Irish Premier League
Linfield Scorers :
Callacher 1’, 64’, Waterworth 49’, Fallon 90+3’
Linfield Yellow Card :
Crusaders Yellow Cards :
Dummigan, Beverland (2), Brown
Crusaders Red Card :
Howard Beverland 87'
Linfield Team :
Rohan Ferguson (GK), Chris Casement, Mark Haughey, Jimmy Callacher, Niall Quinn,, Stephen Fallon, Jamie Mulgrew(C), Kirk Millar (Daniel Kearns 83’), Jordan Stewart (Shayne Lavery 75’), Joel Cooper, Andy Waterworth (Rory Currie 87’)
Linfield Subs not used :
Alex Moore (GK), Mark Stafford, Matthew Clarke, Bastien Hery
Crusaders Team :
Gerard Doherty (GK), Cameron Dummigan, Howard Beverland, Rodney Brown, Jarlath O’Rourke, Gary Thompson, Philip Lowry (Jordan Forsythe 45’), Declan Caddell (Reece McGinley 57’), Jamie McGonigle, Jordan Owens (Rory Hale 75’), Paul Heatley
Crusaders Subs not used :
Sean O'Neill, Chris Hegarty, David Cushley, Paul McElroy
Champions Linfield continue to hit top form at the right time as they put Crusaders to the sword at Windsor Park tonight in a comfortable 4-0 victory thanks to a brace from Jimmy Callacher and goals apiece for Andy Waterworth and Stephen Fallon.
Linfield made a dream start, going ahead after just 94 seconds! Crusaders couldn’t deal with a corner which was recycled back out to Kirk Millar whose cross to the back post was nodded into the net by Jimmy Callacher, who – with the help of a deflection - netted his third goal in the last six matches.
It was almost two after ten minutes. Jamie Mulgrew burst forward in trademark fashion before spreading the ball out right for the overlapping Chris Casement. Casement fizzed in a dangerous cross but it was just slightly behind Andy Waterworth who couldn’t sort his feet out in time as the ball rolled through to the relieved Gerard Doherty.
Rohan Ferguson had to make his first save after 23 minutes when Paul Heatley set off on a mazy run, surging down the left flank before creating space for a shot which was comfortable enough for the goalkeeper to gather. Jamie McGonigle threatened a short time later when he turned neatly following a knock-down from target man Jordan Owens, but the Crusaders winger’s shot flashed a few yards past the post.
Ferguson then produced a great stop to keep Linfield ahead. Jordan Owens won a header just inside the box and Rodney Brown won the second header from closer to goal, and his header looked to be heading into the top corner, only for a great hand by the outstretched Scottish ‘keeper. The Blues did deserve their half-time lead, though, for a first half where they dominated the ball.
Half Time: Linfield 1 – 0 Crusaders
Andy Waterworth went close within two minutes of the second half starting when Jordan Stewart slipped the ball out to the striker to the left of the edge of the box. The ball dropped nicely for the striker to have a crack on the volley and he produced a good effort which was well beaten away by Doherty.
But Waterworth would find the net two minutes later. Joel Cooper was instrumental as ever, with a piece of the trickery he delights the spectators with on a regular basis. The winger left the full back for dead but his pull-back bounced around before Kirk Millar’s sliced shot fell kindly for Andy Waterworth to fire into the roof of the net from close range for what was his sixth goal in four games.
The Blues almost added a third a short time later. Joel Cooper worked space for a shot from a good position, centrally just inside the box. His shot was blocked by Declan Caddell and the Linfield players appealed for a penalty as the ball struck his hand. The referee waved play on and Chris Casement was alert to race into the box for a shooting opportunity, however, he was denied by great goalkeeping as Gerard Doherty produced an excellent double save from close range.
The game was an open affair as Stephen Fallon fired just over with a superbly-struck volley from the edge of the box, before Jamie McGonigle fired straight at Ferguson up the other end with a free header from close range which should have found the onion bag.
The Champions were on fine form as they added a third goal on 64 minutes and it was Jimmy Callacher who provided it, with his second of the evening. Kirk Millar fired in a wicked corner and Jimmy Callacher rose superbly well to power home the most emphatic of headers into the stanchion for his fourth goal in six games.
Substitute Shayne Lavery almost got in on the act when he displayed his blistering pace to get on the end of a neat pass Jamie Mulgrew played over the head of Howard Beverland, but Lavery couldn’t get quite enough purchase on his attempted lob as Doherty gathered.
A miserable night for Crusaders got even worse two minutes from time when they were reduced to ten men. Defender Howard Beverland received his marching orders after a second booking – the first of which was for a cynical mid-air challenge on Waterworth, and the second for a late foul on Cooper.
And that wasn’t the end of the misery for Stephen Baxter’s men. Linfield were in unforgiving mood as Stephen Fallon rounded off the scoring to make it 4-0 after being slipped in when overlapping Joel Cooper, and Fallon’s finished coolly into the bottom corner to net Linfield's 100th goal of the season. A four-goal victory and no less than Linfield deserved.
Full Time: Linfield 4 – 0 Crusaders
LinfieldFC.com Man of the Match: Jimmy Callacher