Linfield clinched a second league win in North Belfast in a matter of days.
Linfield followed up a hard fought 3-2 win at Solitude on Wednesday night with probably an even harder, hard fought 1-0 win at Seaview today.
Nicole Adams hadn’t recovered from the injury that forced her off at Solitude on Wednesday and so the highly versatile all rounder (defender) Louise McFrederick went in goal for this fiercely competitive Belfast derby against a much improved Crusaders side.
It was a game of very few chances for either side, with well marshalled defences on top and numerous competitive midfield battles across the pitch.
Overall, it was an absorbing contest with 3 yellow cards for the home team and Linfield’s Mia Fitzsimmons and Abbie Magee also picking up yellow cards for Linfield.
It probably wasn’t the only card Linfield’s Abbie Magee picked up today, as it was 20th birthday of the versatile all rounder who earned her first senior international cap in Belarus a couple of weeks ago.
The only goal of the game came with the last kick of the first half - Abbie Magee crossed from the right and Alison Smyth managed to divert the ball into the far corner of the net at the railway end of the Seaview stadium.
It was a first comeback goal for Smyth since the devastating injury she sustained in a league game away to Sion Swifts several years ago.
It was a goal from Smyth against her former club that moved Linfield joint top of the league table, level on points with Glentoran, although the East Belfast side have a game in hand.
There were stand out individual performances throughout Phil Lewis’s side, as Linfield battled to hold on to the interval lead against a resolute Crusaders team.
Every player put in a shift to grind out, and see out the win - it was a real united team performance, with Ashley Hutton inspirational in defence and Rebecca McKenna superb in midfield and heroines in blue all across the park.
The team line up was
Sienna Leckey - replaced her sister Ebony on 85 mins
Linfield have 3 league games remaining - home and away against Sion and home to Derry.
The first of those games is away to Sion on Wednesday.