18th November 2017
Irish Premier League
Linfield Scorers :
Waterworth (PEN) 19', Stafford 30'
Coleraine Scorer :
Darren McCauley 59'
Linfield Yellow Card :
Coleraine Yellow Cards :
O’Donnell, Mullan, McConaghie
Linfield Team :
Carroll (GK), Casement, Haughey ©, Stafford, M.Clarke, Jordan Stewart (Burns 72’), Lowry, Garrett, Quinn, Cameron Stewart (Millar 72’), Waterworth
Linfield Subs not used :
Callacher, Mitchell, Rooney
Coleraine Team :
Johns (GK), Mullan, Ogilby © (McConaghie 45’), O’Donnell, Traynor, Parkhill (McCready 79’), Harkin, Smith, McCauley, Carson, McGonigle
Coleraine Subs not used :
Douglas, Kee, Whiteside
David Healy’s Linfield produced great character to defeat league leaders Coleraine at Windsor Park this afternoon to end a run of disappointing results, standing tall to overcome Coleraine pressure in the second half, reducing the gap to eight points as the title race is blown wide open.
Linfield almost took an early lead when Chris Casement stepped up to strike a free-kick from a wide-left position after Matthew Clarke was caught with a meaty challenge, but Casement’s well-struck drive was palmed over by Chris Johns with a strong hand.
Casement then found Jordan Stewart out the right with a sweeping through ball, before the pacey winger evaded two defenders and fired a low drive across goal which was well held by the Coleraine ‘keeper.
Cameron Stewart was proving to be a real handful and played a key role as Linfield opened the scoring on 19 minutes. He won a flick-on for Andy Waterworth to burst into the penalty area before being upended by a trailing leg from Bannsiders skipper David Ogilby. Referee Andrew Davey pointed to the spot without hesitation and Waterworth stepped up to bury the resulting penalty, finding the bottom left corner despite the goalkeeper going the right way.
Subject to controversy during the week and originally set to miss the game through suspension before his red card was rescinded, Mark Stafford made it two nil to Linfield on the half-hour. Quick thinking at a free-kick sent Niall Quinn away in space on the right side of the box. He showed good composure to find Stafford at the back post with a right-footed cross and the big defender from Irvinestown made no mistake with a bullet header into the net.
Right on the brink of half-time came a vital moment in the game as Coleraine were denied a lifeline which would have changed the complexion of the game. A quick break saw Darren McCauley set Jamie McGonigle in the clear but Roy Carroll showed all his experience to block his low shot and the ball went for a harmless corner as Linfield went into the break with a deserved two-goal lead.
Half Time: Linfield 2 – 0 Coleraine
After neat combinations from the Coleraine attackers, the Bannsiders found themselves inside the Linfield box and just as McGonigle let fly with a shot, Mark Stafford threw his body on the line to produce a goal-saving block.
Coleraine then got themselves right back in it on 59 minutes. Ian Parkhill’s weak shot rebounded back to Darren McCauley who found the bottom corner with a crisp strike from the edge of the box following a spell of pressure from the visitors.
Linfield then responded positively despite the lift it gave the visitors as Quinn’s shot came back out to Garrett who took the ball past several defenders only to see his goalward shot eventually blocked by Gareth McConaghie.
Former Linfield winger Josh Carson then showed a bit of magic to get to the byline and supply a pinpoint cross for Darren McCauley to head just wide. Agonisingly close for the Bannsiders to what would have been a dagger into Linfield’s heart, but Linfield fought on with their 2-1 lead.
A half chance fell Niall Quinn’s way on 83 minutes when he connected with a header to Chris Casement’s in-swinging cross, but he couldn’t quite find the target. It would have taken something special to find the net from such an angle.
Roy Carroll, once again, came up trumps with a match and potentially season defining save, getting a reactive block to keep out Stephen O’Donnell’s header following a good corner from Josh Carson.
Stafford cleared off the line at the death to cap a fine ‘Man of the Match’ performance to secure a gutsy, morale boosting performance as Linfield became the first team to inflict defeat on Oran Kearney’s table-toppers this season.
Full Time: Linfield 2 – 1 Coleraine
LinfieldFC.com Man of the Match: Mark Stafford