Irish Premier League
Linfield Scorers :
Waterworth 3’, 13’, 72’, Callacher 56’, McGivern 63’
Carrick Rangers Scorer :
Loughran 25' (Pen)
Carrick Rangers Red Card :
Mark Surgenor 54'
Linfield Team :
Chris Johns (GK), Conor Pepper (Ryan McGivern 63’), Mark Haughey, Jimmy Callacher, Niall Quinn, Kyle McClean, Jamie Mulgrew © (Bastien Hery 76’), Kirk Millar, Navid Nasseri (Daniel Kearns 76’), Jordan Stewart, Andy Waterworth
Linfield Subs not used :
Alex Moore, Ross Larkin, Brandon Doyle, Matthew Shevlin
Carrick Rangers Team :
Aaron Hogg (GK), Reece Neale, Mark Surgenor ©, Chris Rodgers, Caolon Loughran, Lee Chapman, Steven Gordon, Lloyd Anderson, Jonny Frazer (Reece Glendinning 58’), Daniel Kelly (Jordan Gibson 58’), Alex Gawne (Michael Smith 30’)
Carrick Rangers Subs not used :
Geoffrey McKinty (GK), Dee Fearon, James Ferrin, Lee Colligan
After Linfield’s 2-0 win away to Carrick Rangers in the County Antrim Shield during the week, the two teams met again this afternoon, this time in the opening match of the Danske Bank Premiership. Thankfully for Linfield, it brought the same outcome as Linfield started the new campaign with an emphatic victory.
And just like when Navid Nasseri put Linfield ahead after two minutes on Tuesday night, the Blues took another early lead, this time through legendary striker Andy Waterworth in the third minute. It was a great move from the champions as they worked the ball forward from Stewart to Nasseri, and then across the pitch to the right flank where Millar slipped it on to Waterworth who in turn teed it out to Pepper and the overlapping full-back slipped it low back into Waterworth in the box and he did what he does expertly, taking a touch and firing the ball into the far corner.
Again, just like on Tuesday, Linfield added another goal shortly after to go two up. Conor Pepper surged up the right side to assist Andy Waterworth for the second time as the full-back’s low cross by the face of goal was inch-perfect for Andy Waterworth to slide it home in typical fashion.
It had been all Linfield but Carrick Rangers pulled a goal back on 25 minutes. The Blues will be disappointed to concede as the ball broke in the box and Carrick striker Alex Gawne won the race as he was caught late by his former Coleraine teammate Chris Johns. Defender Caolan Loughran stepped up and sent Johns the wrong way, tucking the ball into the bottom right corner.
Only for an outstanding save, Linfield would have restored their two-goal cushion a short time later as the outstretched Aaron Hogg somehow kept out Jimmy Callacher’s header from Niall Quinn’s inswinging corner.
To round off a lively first half where Linfield dominated other than a small spell midway through the half, Jimmy Callacher had a penalty appeal turned away when he felt his header was handled by an opposing defender after he’d rose well to meet another Quinn corner and then with the last kick of the half, Kyle McClean went agonisingly close to a third when Kirk Millar’s free-kick dropped for him in the box and the midfielder’s left-footed shot flashed just wide of the post.
Half Time: Linfield 2 – 1 Carrick Rangers
You’d imagine Carrick’s message at the break would have been to stay in the game and frustrate Linfield. That was going well until they were reduced to ten men on 54 minutes. Carrick defender and captain Mark Surgenor had came out left to intercept Pepper’s surging run, but his tackle was deemed reckless as he seemed to lunge in with force. What further frustrated the visitors is the referee initially went to give a yellow before changing to a red. To make matters worse for the visitors, Linfield scored from the resultant free-kick. Niall Quinn whipped in the free-kick from a wide right position and Jimmy Callacher guided it in with his chest at the back post.
The Blues showed no sympathy as they added a fourth. It was quite remarkable as Ryan McGivern had only been on the pitch a matter of seconds as Conor Pepper was withdrawn after the hard tackle on him which led to Surgenor’s dismissal. Niall Quinn put in another great delivery, this time with a deep corner and McGivern produced a fine header into the far corner. Instant impact. The substitute also allowed Linfield to move to a back three and push another body up the pitch against the ten men.
As he’s done many times before, Andy Waterworth ensured that he’s taking home the match ball this evening when he clinched his hat-trick in the 72nd minute. The impressive Navid Nasseri crossed perfectly from the left side for Waterworth to guide in a header inside the box which left Aaron Hogg with no chance.
The legendary striker almost grabbed a fourth soon after! Kirk Millar and Mark Haughey both put in great crosses from the right side and on both occasions Waterworth was unlucky at the near post, firing just wide and not far over.
The game was beyond Carrick but a rare effort brought a superb save out of Chris Johns as Steven Gordon struck one from distance and Johns used his full flexibility to tip it over the crossbar.
Full Time: Linfield 5 – 1 Carrick Rangers
LinfieldFC.com Man of the Match: Andy Waterworth