Match Details
Season :
2016/2017
Date :
6th August 2016
Competition :
Irish Premier League
Venue :
Ferney Park
Referee :
Ian McNabb
Linfield Scorers :
Lowry 8', Millar 41'.
Ballinamallard United Scorer :
McConnell 28'.
Linfield Yellow Card :
Mulgrew
Ballinamallard United Yellow Card :
McCabe
Teams
Linfield Team :
Carroll (GK), Callacher, Haughey, Waterworth, Lowry, Millar, Mulgrew (c), Casement, Quinn, Gaynor (Josh Carson 70’), Smyth (Burns 89’)
Linfield Subs not used :
McLellan, M Clarke, Fallon
Ballinamallard United Team :
McGrath (GK), Morris, Elliott (McIlwaine 81’), Taheny, McConnell, Currie (Mayse 61’), McCabe, Lecky, McGinty, Lafferty, McCartney.
Ballinamallard United Subs not used :
McKenna, McCusker, Klobusek.
Report
A strong Linfield support made the long journey up to Ballinamallard this season for the curtain raiser of the 2016-17 Danske Bank Premiership. Linfield’s season got off to a great start after no more than 8 minutes on the clock when Ross Gaynor’s free kick to the back post was headed into the net for the opener by the unmarked Stephen Lowry.

Linfield almost doubled their advantage on 20 minutes when Gaynor carried the ball up field before switching the ball to Kirk Millar who took a touch to set himself before unleashing a well struck volley, only to fire against the side netting.

The Mallards got back on level terms on 28 minutes when Johnny Lafferty’s attempted scissor-kick from Shane McCabe’s free kick was deflected to the edge of the box where Ryan McConnell was waiting to volley the ball low into Roy Carroll’s bottom corner.

He signed for the club exactly two years to this day, and Kirk Millar showed his true quality to mark the occasion. Mallards keeper James McGrath came out to clear but little did he know he was teeing up Kirk Millar, who turns 24 tomorrow, to produce an early goal of the season contender, volleying the ball into the top corner over McGrath from the halfway line and put Linfield back in the lead four minutes before the break.

Half Time: Ballinamallard 1 Linfield 2

Millar went close at the start of the second half through a counter-attacking move that started with Gaynor before the Ardee man pulled the ball across to the back post but Millar’s effort was deflected by Ross Taheny and smothered by James McGrath.

Roy Carroll didn’t have the busiest game of his career but when Johnny Lafferty had time to turn and shoot on the edge of the area the veteran goalkeeper was alert to gather at the first attempt.

Linfield were moving the ball well and patiently in attack and after good link-up play between Gaynor, Waterworth, Millar and Casement, when the latter pulled a cross-come-shot across goal it was well held by James McGrath in the Mallards goal.

Chris Casement thought he’d grabbed a debut goal for Linfield in his first competitive appearance in his second spell at the club when he side footed home Kirk Millar’s corner but referee Ian McNabb ruled it out for a push in the back by Casement.

The Blues went close to getting the all-important third goal once more in the 85th minute when Stephen Lowry struck a low and hard drive from 25 yards but McGrath showed great handling once again.

McGrath also denied Niall Quinn’s right footed effort from close range late on as Linfield continued to press for the vital goal to seal the victory but the Mallards kept on fighting. Despite a closely fought contest it was Linfield who started the season in winning fashion, holding onto the 2-1 lead.

Linfieldfc.com Man of the Match - Paul Smyth

Full Time: Ballinamallard 1 Linfield 2

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