Irish Premier League
Linfield Scorers :
Mark Stafford 58', Kurtis Byrne 74'
Linfield Yellow Card :
Linfield Team :
Roy Carroll (GK), Mark Haughey ©, Josh Robinson, Mark Stafford, Matthew Clarke, Kirk Millar, Andrew Mitchell, Stephen Lowry, Niall Quinn (Stephen Fallon 30), Kurtis Byrne (Achille Campion 81’), Andy Waterworth (Louis Rooney 86’)
Linfield Subs not used :
Joe Crowe and Jimmy Callacher
Ballymena United Team :
Ross Glendinning (GK), Tony Kane, Stephen McAlorum (Joe McKinney 73’), Kofi Balmer, Jim Ervin ©, Conor Quigley, Andrew Burns (Johnny Flynn 82’), William Faulkner, Leroy Millar, Conor McCloskey (Franics Nolan 70’)
Ballymena United Subs not used :
Thomas McDermott & Kyle Owens
Linfield kept their surge for European football going this afternoon as they defeated Ballymena United 2-0 at Windsor Park to move into third place in the Danske Bank Premiership thanks to second half goals from Mark Stafford and Kurtis Byrne.
Andrew Waterworth went close after sixteen minutes when he was picked out by Niall Quinn’s low cross, Waterworth was able to turn in the box but he fired his strike over from 15 yards.
Ballymena threatened for the first on 22 minutes when Conor McCloskey drove forward from midfield before cutting in from the left, curling a strike at goal but it was superbly held by Roy Carroll with the ball heading for the far corner.
Linfield had a goal ruled out on 34 minutes when Andrew Waterworth headed home from Kirk Millar’s cross, only to see the linesman standing with his flag up.
The most entertaining moment for the supporters in a quiet first half came when referee Arnold Hunter took a tumble, hitting the turf to a chorus of ironic cheers from both sides.
David Healy was forced into a change on 38 minutes when Niall Quinn limped off following a nasty collision with Ballymena United’s Tony Kane. Stephen Fallon was Quinn’s replacement, he took up a right midfield position with Kirk Millar switching to the left.
Half Time: Linfield 0 – 0 Ballymena United
David Jeffrey’s Sky Blues went close to drawing first blood seven minutes into the second half when Matthew Shevlin went through on goal, only to be denied by a fantastic last-ditch challenge by Linfield defender Mark Stafford.
The deadlock was finally broken on 58 minutes when Kirk Millar whipped in an inviting corner and Mark Stafford leapt highest to power home a header for his eighth goal of the season.
Ballymena looked to hit back immediately and called Roy Carroll into action when he kept out Conor McCloskey’s snapshot form distance.
The experienced ‘keeper produced a cracking save a short time later at full stretch, pushing Tony Kane’s curling free-kick around the post for a corner.
Former Linfield goalkeeper Ross Glendinning produced a superb save to keep the score at 1-0 when he got a strong hand to Kurtis Byrne’s ferocious strike, pushing it onto the post.
Byrne did find the breakthrough a minute later, however, when Andrew Waterworth made space for a cross down the right – he picked out Kurtis Byrne in the middle and the Dubliner supplied a calm finish to make it 2-0 with his fourth Linfield goal.
The Blues almost put the game beyond doubt with a well-worked counter attack. Substitute Louis Rooney beat his man before feeding Kirk Millar down the right – he hung the ball up to the back post for Achille Campion who headed the ball across goal for the onrushing Lowry, but his poked shot fell to the wrong side of the post.
Full Time: Linfield 2 – 0 Ballymena United
LinfieldFC.com Man of the Match : Mark Stafford