Gareth Deane (GK) (David Walsh 45’), Mark Green (Josh Roney 45’), Caomhan McGuinness, John McGivern (Josh Archer 50’), Eamon Scannell, Adam Carroll, Jake Corbett, Trai Hume (Marc Skelton 50’), Brandon Doyle (Ewan McCoubrey 45’), Jack Montgomery (Lee Rea 50’), Trialist
A youthful Linfield team battled to a 3-3 draw with Matthew Tipton’s newly-promoted Portadown side in a behind closed doors Training game at New Midgley Park this afternoon in a beneficial fixture for both teams.
The Blues started the game brightly and at a quick tempo, and almost took the lead within two minutes. Jake Corbett hooked a good ball into the box where Linfield’s trialist striker touched the ball intelligently into the path of Adam Carroll but he scuffed his shot wide from inside the box on his weaker foot.
Portadown called Gareth Deane into action for the first time soon after when the goalkeeper produced great handling to hold a strong shot from the visiting winger. Then, up the other end, Linfield’s trialist broke the offside trap with a well-timed run but he delayed his shot which allowed a defender to get back in with an important block.
Portadown had the ball in the net when their striker finished from a good cross from the full-back, however the striker had strayed offside and the goal was quickly ruled out.
Tipton’s men did make the breakthrough on 28 minutes, however. It was well-worked as their player dropped deep before shredding the ball through into the path of the goalscorer who ran into the box and found the bottom corner with a neat finish.
The ever-impressive Jake Corbett went close for Linfield with a rocket of a half-volley from 25 yards – a great effort which flew wide but not by far. The Ports soon added a second, though, as their striker produced a fine header which looped into the net from a good delivery from the left. 0-2 on 36 minutes.
Linfield showed a spirited response and grabbed a deserved goal to pull one back three minutes before the break. It was a well-worked goal which all stemmed from a crunching tackle from left back Eamon Scannell just inside his own half. Brandon Doyle picked up the ball on the left side, drifted infield as Linfield broke like the red arrows and Doyle slipped it on Adam Carroll who shifted the ball for a right-footed shot which arrowed straight into the far corner.
Half Time: Linfield 1 – 2 Portadown
Young attacker Carroll – who had a loan spell at Warrenpoint Town last season – almost scored again just inside the second half when he was first to a bouncing ball from a free-kick and his header landed on the roof of the net.
In his 50 minutes on the pitch, at just 15 years old, Jack Montgomery was very impressive against an experienced backline. His touch, awareness and ability to hold up and link play was noticeable and impressive on the day. His replacement, Lee Rea, almost made an immediate impact, too. The midfielder turned from the best part of 30 yards from goal and had a pop at goal – what a strike it was too; clean as a whistle, looked to be heading for the postage stamp, only for it to leave the crossbar shaking. So unlucky.
Two half-time substitutes combined as Portadown restored their two-goal cushion on the hour-mark. The Left back fizzed in a wicked delivery which may well have been heading in, and the other sub touched it home with his head at the back post to make sure of it. 1-3.
Just five minutes later, Linfield hit back again. Portadown failed to deal with Eamon Scannell’s corner and Linfield’s trialist striker was instinctive as he reacted to fire the ball emphatically into the roof of the net.
The match could have been settled in Portadown’s favour five minutes before the end when their impressive midfielder was so unfortunate to see his audacious lob from 20 yards hit the crossbar.
In the 87th minute, Linfield’s trialist striker scored his second of the day to salvage a draw. Having won the free-kick with a direct run from deep, the young striker stepped up to take the free-kick which went through the wall and into the net past the goalkeeper.
Manager David Healy will be encouraged with what he witnessed from a young team who played with a style that's easy on the eye. The only concern will be the injuries sustained by Caomhan McGuinness and Trai Hume, which led to their withdrawals.
Full Time: Linfield 3 – 3 Portadown