26th February 2021
Irish Premier League
Linfield Scorers :
Shayne Lavery 28', 75'
Larne Scorer :
Jeff Hughes 88''
Linfield Team :
Chris Johns (GK), Conor Pepper, Mark Haughey, Jimmy Callacher, Matthew Clarke, Jamie Mulgrew ©, Kyle McClean, Stephen Fallon (Cammy Palmer 85’), Kirk Millar, Joel Cooper, Shayne Lavery (Andy Waterworth 75’)
Linfield Subs not used :
Alex Moore (GK), Michael Newberry, Niall Quinn, Navid Nasseri, Jordan Stewart
Larne Team :
Conor Devlin (GK), Tomas Cosgrove, Albert Watson, Josh Robinson, Dean Jarvis, Jeff Hughes ©, Fuad Sule, Lee Lynch, Dylan Mottley-Henry (Mark Randall 56’), David McDaid (Jonathan McMurray 66’), Ronan Hale (Conor McKendry 76’)
Larne Subs not used :
Conor Mitchell (GK), Graham Kelly, Andrew Mitchell, Luke Wade Slater
Linfield produced a big performance and a result to match against Larne in a top-of-the-table clash at Windsor Park this evening as The Blues extended their lead at the top to six points.
The first big chance of the night fell for the visitors. Lee Lynch intercepted a loose pass and nutmegged Jimmy Callacher before slotting Larne winger Dylan Mottley-Henry though on goal before Chris Johns made a good block to the shot from close range. Soon after, Linfield threatened when Kirk Millar spun in behind to be found by a great pass over the top by Conor Pepper and the winger had a shot beaten away by Conor Devlin.
Linfield then took the lead on 28 minutes to get back to scoring ways following two goalless outings. After an attempted pass through midfield the ball was deflected into the Larne box and Shayne Lavery’s pace ensured he beat Dean Jarvis to the ball, with the full-back attempting to win the ball but instead hacking Lavery down. The striker took the responsibility and stepped up to send Larne ‘keeper Conor Devlin the wrong way.
The Blues had to withstand intense pressure from Larne at the end of the first half. After getting caught playing out from the back, Ronan Hale fired a wicked shot at goal from 25 yards which Chris Johns had to palm out. The ball fell for Lee Lynch after Johns was challenged and then Matthew Clarke protected his goal with an important block. Soon after, Linfield survived when Dylan Mottley-Henry was left for a free header from a free-kick. Albert Watson also headed just over the bar when Jeff Hughes headed Lee Lynch’s corner back across.
There was one big talking point at the end of a tight first half when the Linfield players clearly felt incensed that they weren’t awarded a second penalty. Matthew Clarke picked out Joel Cooper with a smart low corner and when the winger attempted to pull the trigger it appeared he was swiped to the floor by a Larne defender.
Half Time: Linfield 1 – 0 Larne
Linfield almost doubled their lead at the start of the second and it would have been some goal. The Blues produced a magnificent passage of play from the back out, beating the Larne press to unleash Stephen Fallon in midfield before slipping the ball wide to Joel Cooper. Cooper beat a man before sliding in a low cross back to Fallon who slotted just wide of the post, otherwise it would have been a contender for goal of the season.
The Blues were well on top in the second half, indeed it was their best half of football for a number of weeks. The work-rate, pressing, grit and general control of the game was very impressive against a full-time Larne team known for possesion football. David Healy’s men added a deserved second goal on 75 minutes with a counter-attack. Conor Pepper’s eyes lit up following an interception when he spotted lots to grass to attack down the right side and he steamed forward like a train before slipping it across to Stephen Fallon, and although Fallon couldn’t get the ball under control on the swivel, an attempted clearance from full-back Tomas Cosgrove struck him before falling in the box for the eager Shayne Lavery to pounce upon and poke into the far corner. Shayne was fantastic on the night with a wonderful work-rate both on and off the ball and deserved his double as he scored his tenth and eleventh goals of the season.
A further boost for Linfield was being able to finally hand a debut to January signing Cammy Palmer who signed from Rangers. The midfielder was only on for the closing eight minutes but was impressive in helping Linfield close out the game.
In a rare second half Larne attack, the Inver Reds’ captain offered a glimmer of hope for the hosts as he squeezed a shot in from a tight angle despite the best efforts of Chris Johns following a neat reversed pass by Conor McKendry. It proved to be too little too late, as Linfield held on for a deserved win following three games without a win.
Full Time: Linfield 2 – 1 Larne
LinfieldFC.com Man of the Match: Kyle McClean