Gareth Deane (GK), Niall Quinn, Jimmy Callacher, Ryan McGivern, Matthew Clarke, Kirk Millar, Andrew Mitchell (Dale Taylor 76’), Jamie Mulgrew ©, Joel Cooper (Trai Hume 90’), Matthew Shevlin (Daniel Reynolds 58’), Andy Waterworth (Charlie Allen 76’)
Richard Brush ©, Conor McDermott, Jamie Harney, Joe Gorman, Aaron Donnelly, Ronan Doherty, Ronan Wilson (Joe Gormley 88’), Chris Curran ©, Ryan Curran, Conor McMenamin, Rory Donnelly (Thomas Maguire 97’)
Mark McKee, Seanna Foster, Donal Rocks, Dylan Snodden, Darren Hyland
After fighting back from two goals down against Cliftonville, Linfield were edged out in a penalty shoot-out as the Reds progress to the semi-final of the County Antrim Shield.
It was a low key start at Windsor which was much in part to both teams keeping possession well, however, Linfield almost took the lead after twelve minutes. Niall Quinn’s cross-come-shot from out right drifted all the way through the area untouched before coming back off the post. Andy Waterworth couldn’t quite get the follow-up under control as Richard Brush gratefully clutched the ball.
Jamie Harney threatened with an instinctive acrobatic effort from close range after a Cliftonville free-kick but it was comfortable for Gareth Deane and soon after, up the other end, Joel Cooper’s shot at the end of a typical direct run was deflected straight into the arms of Brush.
The Blues almost broke the deadlock going close again a short time later, this time it came from good link-up between Cooper and Millar as the latter earned space for a cross which he hammered across the face of goal but Conor McDermott made a vital interception at the back post to deny Andy Waterworth who was sniffing in close proximity.
The Reds took the lead as the deadlock was broke on the brink of half-time after a long spell of pressure on the edge of the Linfield box. Midfielder Ronan Doherty exchanged passes with Ryan Curran before charging into the area and slotting a low shot into the far corner past Gareth Deane.
Half Time: Linfield 0 – 1 Cliftonville
Linfield looked to hit back in the second half and they nearly found the net on 49 minutes. Andy Waterworth headed just wide of the post from a Kirk Millar cross and Matthew Shevlin almost got on the end of it at the back post but couldn’t quite reach it.
Cliftonville thought they’d doubled their lead 20 minutes into the second half when Conor McMenamin raced in to chip the ball into the net but he was offside when Doherty released him and the goal was chalked off,
Minutes later, Linfield went within a whisker of an equaliser. Joel Cooper picked the ball up 30 yards from goal and thundered an effort at goal, only to see it crash back off the woodwork.
The Reds went on to add a second goal in the 74th minute when Ronan Doherty ran to the byline before hanging up a cross into the middle for striker Ryan Curran to head home from close range.
David Healy went all-out attack and introduced youngsters Dale Taylor and Charlie Allen. 15 year-old Taylor would offer Linfield hope as he netted his first goal for the Club and what a goal it was too, a fantastic curling effort from the edge of the box after doing well to make space for a shot.
The tails were up and an equaliser arrived five minutes later, this time an absolute stunner from Kirk Millar. The winger lined up a free-kick in a position just left of the D, 25 yards from goal and curled a sublime free-kick into the far top corner to spark scenes of jubilation at Windsor Park.
Full Time: Linfield 2 – 2 Cliftonville
The game progressed into two ten minute halves of extra time. The first half brought further opportunities for both teams. Early on in the half saw a near miss for Cliftonville after McMenamin slammed a cross into the box and it was extremely fortunate for Linfield that Joe Gormley, somehow, didn’t make contact.
Linfield went close when Kirk Millar’s free-kick from wide left had to be tipped behind by Richard Brush.
HT Extra Time – Linfield 2-2 Cliftonville
Linfield were the team doing all the pressing in the second half of extra time but just couldn’t find a winner. Cliftonville did go so close to snatching it, however, when Conor McDermott’s free-kick was headed against the post.
FT Extra Time – Linfield 2-2 Cliftonville
Ryan Curran (Cliftonville) scores, sending Gareth Deane the wrong way. 0-1.
Dale Taylor (Linfield) has his penalty saved by the outstretched Richard Brush.
Thomas Maguire (Cliftonville) sends his penalty well over the crossbar.
Charlie Allen (Linfield) slots the ball low into the net to cap a good performance. 1-1.
Chris Curran (Cliftonville) sends Deane the wrong way. 1-2.
Kirk Millar (Linfield) fires his penalty emphatically into the corner. 2-2.
Aaron Donnelly (Cliftonville) scores down the middle. 2-3.
Daniel Reynolds (Linfield) sends Brush the wrong way. 3-3.
Niall Quinn (Linfield) has his penalty saved by Brush. 3-4.