Irish Premier League
Linfield Scorers :
Jordan Stewart 4', Shayne Lavery 90'
Linfield Yellow Cards :
Jimmy Callacher, Ross Larkin, Matthew Clarke, Cammy Palmer
Linfield Team :
Chris Johns (GK), Mark Haughey, Jimmy Callacher (C), Ross Larkin, Matthew Clarke, Cammy Palmer, Niall Quinn, Kirk Millar, Navid Nasseri (Christy Manzinga 67’), Jordan Stewart (Andy Waterworth 67’), Shayne Lavery
Linfield Subs not used :
Alex Moore (GK), Conor Pepper, Mark Stafford, Michael Newberry, Joshua Archer
Dungannon Swifts Team :
Roy Carroll (GK), Ethan McGee, Callum Byers, Matthew Smyth, Adam Glenny, Michael Carvill, Oisin Smyth (C), James Convie (Mark Patton 84'), Shane McGinty (James Teelan 84'), Ben Gallagher, Rhyss Campbell (Lorcan Forde 84')
Dungannon Swifts Subs not used :
Conner Byrne (GK), Caolin Coyle, Dylan O'Kane, Zach Ferson
Linfield recorded another hard-fought win on the road this evening as an early goal from Jordan Stewart set them on their way to victory over Dungannon Swifts at Stangmore Park, before Shayne Lavery – fresh from taking on Italy and USA at International level – returned to help secure the win.
The Blues took the lead after four minutes with a superbly-worked team goal. Jimmy Callacher played the ball into the feet of Shayne Lavery and he popped the ball off to the left for Navid Nasseri. The left winger was supported by the overlapping run of Matthew Clarke and the timing of the pass to set up an opportunity for a cross from inside the box was good as Clarke hammered a low cross to Jordan Stewart who’d attacked the back post and he slotted in from close range for his tenth goal of the season.
Although Dungannon were seeing plenty of the ball and played with their new slick style, they never worked Chris Johns in the first half, with their best efforts coming through young forward Ben Gallagher who was prepared to run at players and shoot from just outside the box.
Then former Linfield goalkeeper Roy Carroll showed his class on a few occasions for the Swifts. He was alert and sharp off the mark when Jordan Stewart attempted to slip Navid Nasseri in, only for Roy to make the interception. Soon after, Shayne Lavery struck a swerving low strike which Carroll did well to save and then gather at the second attempt. That was the case again when Navid Nasseri got a shot away from inside the box after Linfield worked the ball well down the left, with the shot looking to be heading towards the far corner only for the good outstretched save.
Half Time: Dungannon Swifts 0 – 1 Linfield
Known for a very modern approach, Dean Shiels’ team almost pulled off a very clever corner routine. The ball was pulled back towards two runners who both shimmied the ball, letting it go through for Ben Gallagher to strike – he scuffed his strike but Matthew Smyth received the ball just inside the box and Navid Nasseri put a good block in when he attempted to get a shot away.
The Blues were unlucky not to double their lead on 62 minutes following good work from Shayne Lavery who showed great skill to beat two men on the left before driving into the box, then slipping it to Navid Nasseri and with no room for a shot he slipped it across one further to Kirk Millar who hit the ball on the bounce and Roy Carroll jumped, spreading himself and making a great save with his foot.
Dungannon’s closest effort of the game came unsurprisingly through Ben Gallagher who cut inside before firing a crisp low strike into the side netting from around 20 yards.
David Healy introduced striker Christy Manzinga for the final 25 minutes and he looked really impressive. The former Motherwell man’s capabilities have been clear since his debut last summer, but it’s been stop-start for him due to injury and suspension and if it’s a sign of things to come he could play a big part in the remainder of the season. Manzinga almost made an instant impact, getting the ball out left, cutting inside and then curling a fierce strike off the top of the crossbar with Roy Carroll beaten.
Manzinga also troubled the Swifts midfield when he dribbled his way powerfully through the pitch before being fouled by Matthew Smyth. The ever-impressive Niall Quinn took on a shot from the 30 yard free-kick and it was a superb effort as it flashed narrowly wide of Roy Carroll’s post.
Although the Linfield rearguard protected their goal superbly, it took a second goal in injury time to settle any nerves. Once again Christy Manzinga was heavily involved, working hard to win the ball back after initially losing it, then slotting a nice ball through to Shayne Lavery who was one-on-one with a defender before cutting inside and firing a shot inside the near post to seal the win for Linfield and in doing so, reached the 20-goal mark for the season.
The Blues are now nine points ahead in the lead, but second-place Coleraine have a game in hand and Wednesday night's game between the top two is set to be a big one under the lights at Windsor Park.
Full Time: Dungannon Swifts 0 – 2 Linfield