Match report by Jamie Megarry
Linfield Swifts tonight booked their place in the final of the Steel and Sons Cup final on Christmas day, thanks to a comfortable victory over Premier Intermediate League outfit Lisburn Distillery.
David Dorrian's Swifts were always in control of the match and were helped on their way by a bright start and an early opening goal to go with it. Callum Marshall swept the ball out left to Andrew Clarke who returned the favour with a cutback to Marshall whose low shot from just inside the box was brilliantly saved by Distillery goalkeeper Jonah Nicholl down low to his right, however there was nothing he could do as Blues attacker Adam Carroll was sharpest to the rebound, as he scored from close range on nine minutes to put Linfield ahead.
The Blues pushed on and almost scored on two separate occasions just moments after the opener. Firstly, Joshua Archer played a nice arrowed pass to Callum Marshall in the top left of the pitch and the 16 year-old pulled it back for Andrew Clarke whose low shot inside a busy penalty box was well saved. Then right full-back Ewan McCoubrey cut onto his left foot, before swinging a dangerous cross in which whistled just beyond the far post with Marshall not far off getting a head on it.
The second goal did then arrive after 17 minutes. Deservedly, it was netted by the outstanding and very promising 16 year-old forward Callum Marshall. A willing runner, Marshall was slipped in by Jack Montgomery before finding the far top corner with a clean, clinical strike from just inside the box to make it 2-0. The move started when the classy Kyle McClean stepped in to make an interception in midfield.
McClean’s class was evident and he was at the heart of another sweeping Linfield move as he switched the ball out right to Callum Marshall who fed the overlapping run of Ewan McCoubrey and the young full-back found Jack Montgomery with a pinpoint low cross to the back post, but the goalkeeper was able to narrow the angle to make a block save.
Ross Larkin threatened to make it three before the break when the big central defender caught one sweetly on the half-volley from the guts of 35 yards out but his strike whistled just over the crossbar.
HT Linfield Swifts 2-0 Lisburn Distillery
The Blues came out again in the second half in control of the match, dominating possession of the ball and when they attacked, they looked dangerous and like a well-oiled machine.
Five minutes into the second half, Jack Montgomery threatened again, typically coming in off the left side. Marshall smartly teed him up to shoot from a central position just inside the box but he fired over the bar.
The game was ultimately put beyond any doubt when Linfield Swifts deservedly netted a third goal on 67 minutes. The sponsors’ Man of the Match on the evening, Andrew Clarke netted a fine individual goal, as he dropped the shoulder and dribbled round a defender before reaching the edge of the box from where he fired a low strike into the corner. The goalkeeper seemed to get a touch but it was well struck.
Callum Marshall threatened to add a fourth, as he headed over from distance from a Jack Montgomery cross, and the latter went close in the closing minutes after the two combined again. Montgomery showed great balance to touch the ball past the defender and get past in the box but ultimately, there wasn’t enough room and the goalkeeper was able to close the angle and block the shot.
The Swifts were very impressive all over the pitch and can now look forward to the prestigious and traditional Christmas Day final of the Steel and Sons Cup final when they face Newington at Seaview.
With First Team boss David Healy watching on, Kyle McClean stepped up his recovery from injury with 62 minutes during which he controlled the match. Summer signing, goalkeeper Jack Ruddy played the full match and although he wasn’t overly busy, he collected all crosses with assurance, after recently returning from injury. Ross Larkin wasn’t troubled at the back and he played 74 minutes, as he aims to make a break into the first team.
FT Linfield Swifts 3-0 Lisburn Distillery
Below - Andrew Clarke receives the sponsors player of the match award