Match Details
Season :
2021/2022
Date :
23rd April 2022
Competition :
Irish Premier League
Venue :
Windsor Park
Referee :
Tim Marshall
Linfield Yellow Card :
Chris Shields
Larne Yellow Cards :
Fuad Sule, Rohan Ferguson, Cian Bolger, Ronan Hale
Teams
Linfield Team :
Chris Johns (GK), Ben Hall, Jimmy Callacher, Niall Quinn, Matthew Clarke, Jamie Mulgrew © (Kyle McClean 32’), Chris Shields, Jake Hastie (Ethan Devine 56’), Kirk Millar, Jordan Stewart (Chris McKee 76’), Eetu Vertainen (Ahmed Salam 76’)
Linfield Subs not used :
David Walsh, Sam Roscoe, Martin Donnelly
Larne Team :
Rohan Ferguson (GK), Tomas Cosgrove, Cian Bolger, Kofi Balmer, Graham Kelly, Fuad Sule, Dean Jarvis (Ben Doherty 63’), Mark Randall (Lee Lynch 63’), Jeff Hughes ©, Andy Scott (Ronan Hale 63’), David McDaid
Larne Subs not used :
Conor Devlin (GK), Andrew Mitchell, Sean Brown, Ethan Simpson
Report
The remarkable 2021-22 Danske Bank Premiership title race is going to the wire as the two contenders, Linfield and Cliftonville, both drew their matches on the penultimate matchday of the season as the Blues retain their one point lead over the Reds.

Although Linfield and Larne were inseparable at Windsor Park, it was nonetheless an afternoon of twists and turns. At half-time, Cliftonville were 1-0 up across the city away to rivals Crusaders, so at that stage Linfield would have needed to win. However, quick-fire Crusaders goals early in the second half saw the Crues go 3-1 ahead, therefore at that stage a Linfield winner would have sealed the title. There was a final twist as Cliftonville hit back to 3-3 and, thankfully for Linfield, the Reds weren’t able to find a fourth goal. Word was quickly reaching Windsor Park as the goals flew in.

The Blues started the match well and put their foot on the ball to dominate possession in the opening stages. There was danger for Larne when Niall Quinn whipped in a great corner which was initially won by Jordan Stewart following good footwork and a deflected shot, but Jimmy Callacher couldn’t quite connect with a header. The big defender was just inches away from meeting the corner.

Eetu Vertainen was next to threaten when he turned midway inside the Larne half to fire a low left-footed strike from distance which was well held by Larne ‘keeper Rohan Ferguson. The Blues’ Finnish forward then had a big penalty appeal turned down minutes later when he turned brilliantly in the box after Jordan Stewart cushioned a pass into his path. Vertainen felt his leg was caught when he went to pull the trigger but the referee felt there was no foul.

Larne’s first threat came after 25 minutes from a pre-rehearsed throw-in routine which has previously worked against Linfield in the past. This time when Mark Randall spun into space, his half-volley struck the side netting.

A major disappointing blow came for Linfield on 33 minutes when club captain Jamie Mulgrew was on the receiving end of a challenge from Larne’s Fuad Sule. It takes a lot to keep the legendary midfielder down, so the fact he required a stretcher off the pitch tells its own story and perhaps Sule was lucky to escape with only a yellow.

It then took a superb save from Chris Johns five minutes before the break to keep the scores level. Linfield were caught trying to play out through Larne’s high press and Larne’s Mark Randall struck one sweetly from 25 yards which needed acrobatically tipped over from the Linfield ‘keeper.

Half Time: Linfield 0-0 Larne

The Blues went close to an opening goal just two minutes into the second half when Ben Hall met Niall Quinn’s corner delivery but defender Hall saw his header well saved by former Linfield goalkeeper Rohan Ferguson who was able to beat the effort away.

Larne had a golden opportunity to take the lead on 73 minutes but they squandered it. A great ball over the top was brilliantly controlled on the chest by Ben Doherty who then pulled the ball back for David McDaid in acres of space but the forward uncharacteristically blazed over the bar from a great position.

Linfield defender Ben Hall went close again on 78 minutes when he met Kirk Millar’s cross from the right but he headed wide from 10 yards. The big defender seems to be getting closer by the week as his wait goes on for a first Linfield goal.

The Blues battled for every ball and had more of the ball than their opponents but just couldn’t quite create a clear-cut opportunity, even despite countless opportunities to deliver cross from corners and free-kicks. Ultimately, given how things unfolded, Linfield’s overriding emotion tonight will be relief and excitement that they have another chance to try and clinch the title. One way or another, the title race will reach a conclusion next week and the Blues will hope to make it four titles in a row when they face a tough game from Coleraine at Windsor Park next Saturday.

Full Time: Linfield 0 – 0 Larne

LinfieldFC.com Man of the Match: Ben Hall

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