Irish Premier League
Linfield Scorers :
Joel Cooper 40', Shayne Lavery 51'
Dungannon Swifts Yellow Cards :
Douglas Wilson, Michael Carvill, Ethan McGee
Linfield Team :
Chris Johns (GK), Conor Pepper, Mark Haughey, Jimmy Callacher, Niall Quinn, Jamie Mulgrew ©, Cammy Palmer, Kirk Millar (Navid Nasseri 82’), Jordan Stewart, Joel Cooper, Shayne Lavery (Andy Waterworth 82’)
Linfield Subs not used :
Alex Moore (GK), Ryan McGivern, Ross Larkin, Matthew Clarke, Joshua Archer
Dungannon Swifts Team :
Roy Carroll (GK), Caolin Coyle, Callum Byers, Douglas Wilson © (Ethan McGee 71’), Matthew Smyth, Mark Patton, Caolan McAlear (Lorcan Forde 63’), Rhyss Campbell, Michael Carvill (Rory Patterson 76’), Adam Glenny, Daniel Hughes
Dungannon Swifts Subs not used :
Sam Johnston (GK), Ben Gallagher, Ryan Mayse, James Convie
Linfield recorded their fourth league win in a row this evening with goals either side of the half-time break to seal a 2-0 win over Dungannon Swifts.
Michael Newberry missed out with a broken nose sustained against Carrick Rangers on Saturday, whilst Mark Stafford was left out, allowing for Mark Haughey to return to the team after a few weeks out injured, and Conor Pepper also came in, in Linfield’s other change.
It was a really good game of football under the Windsor Park floodlights. Dean Shiels only took the reigns at Dungannon Swifts last week but how he has implemented his style of play already was impressive as they looked to play with confidence and every player wanted the ball.
The Swifts were fearless but they were nearly behind early on. Conor Pepper found Kirk Millar just inside the box with a throw-in and the winger took on a volley from a tight angle; it dipped and swerved after he put his foot through it before striking the crossbar. A fantastic effort and very unlucky.
Soon after, Joel Cooper headed in after being picked out by a brilliant Kirk Millar free-kick delivery, only to be denied for a push at the back post. Soon after, Millar produced another great cross, this time a deep one for Jordan Stewart who couldn’t keep his header down at the back post.
Jimmy Callacher also glanced a header wide from a Kirk Millar free-kick, and the winger was involved yet again when he slipped the ball to the overlapping Niall Quinn whose low shot was deflected wide of Carroll’s far post.
The Blues made the breakthrough five minutes before the break. It was well worked, with Jordan Stewart playing the ball into the feet of Shayne Lavery who was in the corner of the box and he pulled the ball back, but it was intelligence of Cammy Palmer which was key as he dummied the ball for it to come through to Joel Cooper just inside the box and he fired a low shot into the bottom corner past former team-mate Roy Carroll, who was returning to Windsor Park for the first time since leaving Linfield in 2019 and the only disappointment on the night was Roy didn’t get what certainly would have been a warm reception from the Linfield supporters.
Half Time: Linfield 1 – 0 Dungannon Swifts
Linfield very nearly doubled their lead shortly after the break. Dungannon’s play out from the back was very easy on the eye, but you risk getting caught out and that’s what happened when Jordan Stewart intercepted Roy Carroll’s pass out. Stewart had a clear sight of goal but he was pulled back purposefully by Dougie Wilson, who only received a yellow card thanks to two covering Swifts defenders. Kirk Millar smashed the resultant 20 yard free-kick against the post and Jordan Stewart fired in the rebound, only for it to be chalked off for offside.
The Blues weren’t to be denied moments later when they scored a goal of real quality. In a game of plenty of playing out from the back, Linfield nailed it – precise and purposeful. Chris Johns pinged the ball out to left back Niall Quinn who, knowing Joel Cooper’s pace, sent a ball down the line for the winger to race onto before producing a fantastic first-time ball into the path of Shayne Lavery who finished first-time beyond Roy Carroll by putting his foot through the ball; a sign of a man in top form. A superb move to give David Healy’s men a two-goal lead.
For a long spell after, Linfield were knocking on the door for a third goal. Joel Cooper and Shayne Lavery continued to be a dangerous duo as they linked up further. Cooper hung up a cross into the middle which Shayne Lavery met but his header was blocked by Matthew Smyth who played well at the heart of the Swifts’ backline. Soon after, Joel Cooper fizzed in a cross with real pace on it but Shayne Lavery fired over from close range, a tough one on the stretch.
Cammy Palmer almost scored for the second match running when Kirk Millar’s cross fell for the midfielder on the edge of the box but his left-footed shot was blocked by Roy Carroll. Joel Cooper almost scored a second, too, and it would have been some goal. The winger took the ball from the right and showed great feet to dribble into the box before seeing a shot from close range blocked by Smyth.
The Swifts then nearly found a route back into the game. Michael Carvill whipped in a deep corner and Chris Johns couldn’t reach it, with Rhyss Campbell hooking the ball beyond the goalkeeper, only for Kirk Millar to hook it off the line.
Dean Shiels’ men were gifted another chance when Linfield were too slack when playing out from the back, with the ball given away straight to Michael Carvill in front of goal. The former Linfield man slid the ball under Chris Johns who was retreating across his goal but the shot hit the post.
In one final chance, former Linfield forward Lorcan Forde dispossessed Jamie Mulgrew and went past Chris Johns, but he should have squared it and Jamie Mulgrew got back to block the shot.
All in all, Linfield’s quality told and it was a strong performance against a team that will soon climb the table if they maintain that level of performance. For Linfield at the other end of the table, it’s full focus on to Friday’s tough game against Crusaders at Seaview as the games come thick and fast.
Full Time: Linfield 2 – 0 Dungannon Swifts
LinfieldFC.com Man of the Match: Cammy Palmer