Irish Premier League
Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena
Linfield Scorer :
Shayne Lavery 2'
Carrick Rangers Scorer :
Daniel Kelly 84'
Linfield Yellow Card :
Carrick Rangers Yellow Card :
Linfield Team :
Chris Johns (GK), Matthew Clarke, Mark Stafford, Jimmy Callacher, Kirk Millar (Andy Waterworth 85’), Jamie Mulgrew ©, Kyle McClean, Joel Cooper, Navid Nasseri (Mark Haughey 65’), Christy Manzinga (Jordan Stewart 65’), Shayne Lavery
Linfield Subs not used :
Alex Moore (GK), Conor Pepper, Niall Quinn, Michael Newberry
Carrick Rangers Team :
Aaron Hogg (GK), Lee Chapman, Chris Ramsey, Mark Surgenor (C), Chris Rodgers, Michael Smith, Kyle Cherry (Lloyd Anderson 63'), Daniel Kelly, Jordan Gibson (Gerard Storey 75'), Jordan Jenkins (Jonny Frazer 63'), Cathair Friel
Carrick Rangers Subs not used :
Geoffrey McKinty (GK), Reece Neale, Caolan Loughran, Steven Gordon
Linfield were below par tonight when they travelled to the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena and they were made to pay by a battling Carrick Rangers side as Daniel Kelly slammed home a late equaliser to cancel out Shayne Lavery’s early opener in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
Shayne Lavery will have been disappointed not to score in the opening minute after a neat ball from Kirk Millar sent the rapid Christy Manzinga away down the channel and the French striker squared it for Lavery who was free in the middle, but he miscued his shot.
Lavery will have been relieved that he did find the net soon after to give The Blues a second minute lead. The striker turned on the left side, just inside the Carrick Rangers half and his pace took him beyond home defender Chris Ramsey before Lavery slotting the ball low into the net from around 12 yards out.
Christy Manzinga almost made it 2-0 after 18 minutes. The striker was picked out by a great ball out by Jimmy Callacher and when he took the ball into the box and shifted it onto his right foot, his curling shot was narrowly wide of the far post.
For whatever reason, The Blues’ performance took a dip after a great start and Carrick Rangers started to assert pressure of their own. Chris Johns had to be alert as a ball was headed into the path of Lee Chapman who advanced up the right and if Johns hadn’t been so alert and quickly out, the Carrick man would have been through on goal.
The Amber Army missed a good chance before the break when Kyle Cherry got forward from midfield and peeled off into space at the back post before being picked out by Cathair Friel, but the midfielder got his diving header wrong. After that, David Healy will have been glad to see half time to try and address his side’s drop off in performance after a bright start.
Half Time: Carrick Rangers 0 – 1 Linfield
The second half brought similar struggles with The Blues just not seeming to click together. Aaron Hogg in the Carrick goal didn’t have a lot to do in the second half but he did well whenever Jimmy Callacher almost caught the hosts out with a quick free-kick, a threaded pass through the middle which the goalkeeper raced out and just beat Shayne Lavery to.
20 minutes into the second half David Healy decided to change the formation from 3-5-2 to a more familiar 4-2-3-1, with Jordan Stewart playing in behind Shayne Lavery and Mark Haughey coming in at right back.
But even the change back to what has been successful for the past few seasons didn’t get Linfield back into a rhythm and it was Carrick winning second balls. Danger signs appeared when Carrick started to put pressure on the Linfield goal again. Kyle McClean had to make a good block to Daniel Kelly’s low drive when he was found unmarked on the edge of the box by Cathair Friel.
Niall Currie introduced Gerard Storey who is on loan from Portsmouth and he threatened twice. The young midfielder curled a shot just over from 20 yards and then hit a free-kick from similar range which Michael Smith got a touch to but he couldn’t wrap his foot around it to squeeze a shot on target.
Then came the leveller on 84 minutes. It was another poor goal to concede, similar to the one against Crusaders last weekend as the ball squirmed through from a corner and midfielder Daniel Kelly slammed the ball in with six minutes remaining. Niall Currie could be heard telling his players to stay in the game and then will get chances and he was right.
And Carrick Rangers very nearly stole it at the death against the odds. Midfielder Lloyd Anderson brought the ball down and turned inside the box and just as he looked like he would squeeze the ball in, he fired his low shot just wide of the post.
Full Time: Carrick Rangers 1 – 1 Linfield