Irish Premier League
Linfield Scorers :
Kirk Millar 6', Ethan Devine 56', Eetu Vertainen 73', Andrew Clarke 85'
Linfield Yellow Card :
Portadown Yellow Card :
Linfield Team :
Chris Johns (GK), Michael Newberry (Daniel Finlayson 60’), Sam Roscoe, Chris Shields, Kirk Millar ©, Stephen Fallon (Cameron Palmer 76’), Kyle McClean (Jamie Mulgrew 60’), Joel Cooper, Eetu Vertainen (Andrew Clarke 76’), Ethan Devine (Chris McKee 76’), Robbie McDaid
Linfield Subs not used :
David Walsh, Matthew Clarke
Portadown Team :
Jethren Barr (GK), Stephen Teggart, Lee Upton, Patrick McNally ©, Jason Akiotu, Luke Wilson (Katlego Mashigo 60’), Mark Russell, Joseph Moore (Don De Dieu Tantale 60’), Leo Donnellan, Jordan Jenkins (Billy Stedman 60’), Oisin Conaty (Jonah Mitchell 77’)
Portadown Subs not used :
Ruadhan McKenna (GK), Howard Beverland, Jack Ovens
Reigning four-in-a-row champions Linfield kicked off the new season in perfect fashion with a 4-0 win over Portadown at Windsor Park this afternoon.
The fixture was played on a Sunday afternoon due to Linfield’s ongoing participation in Thursday night European football, and David Healy named an attacking 3-5-2 team which featured six changes from the team which lost to FC Zurich in Switzerland on Thursday.
The Blues were up and running six minutes into the new season with a well-worked opening goal. Defender Michael Newberry showcased his ball-playing attributes with a switch ball out to Joel Cooper who headed it first-time on to Eetu Vertainen. The Finnish forward crossed from the left and after an initial touch from a Portadown defender, the ball sat for captain-on-the-day Kirk Millar to race in and slot in a composed finished into the far corner. A Portadown defender got a touch on it on the line but couldn’t keep the ball out.
Three minutes later, Linfield almost struck again. A quickly-taken free-kick to Joel Cooper on the left allowed the winger to hang a cross/shot up to the back post area and, with Portadown’s South African ‘keeper Jethren Barr backtracking anxiously, the ball flashed agonisingly past the top corner of the goal.
Portadown had a few half chances of their own, the first of which came on 11 minutes when full-back Stephen Teggart whipped in a pinpoint cross to the back post for the unmarked Joseph Moore whose volley wasn’t the cleanest of connections and it proved to be a harmless effort. A short time later, Chris Johns made a smart save to a good effort on the volley from Portadown central defender Patrick McNally.
The Blues had a number of further opportunities before the break to extend their lead. Stephen Fallon was denied by Ports ‘keeper Jethren Barr who made a smart save to a 20 yard drive after the midfielder surged from just inside his own half.
It was unfortunate that the second goal didn’t come on 24 minutes when Eetu Vertainen cut the ball to Ethan Devine at close range in the middle and Devine’s effort looked a certain goal, only for it to unfortunately strike teammate Robbie McDaid on the face of goal. Soon after, Kyle McClean’s fierce strike from a short corner was well saved, and then Joel Cooper headed over at close range from Kirk Millar’s free-kick delivery from the left.
There was almost a sting in the tale right at the end of the first half. Some uncharacteristic slack defending from a hopeful Portadown cross saw the ball sliced, landing at the feet of Portadown midfielder Mark Russell who drew a great reflex save out of Chris Johns who sprung down to his left.
Half Time: Linfield 1-0 Portadown
It was a case of third time lucky for Linfield, who’d went close twice in quick succession. Firstly, Robbie McDaid put in a good cross to find Eetu Vertainen in the box and his half-volley was well saved by the ‘keeper. From the corner that followed, Sam Roscoe found himself unmarked as he stooped for a free header which he was unlucky to see strike the inside of the box.
The awaited second goal then arrived on 56 minutes and it was well-worked. The ball fell for Kirk Millar inside the box and he was faced with an onrushing goalkeeper. Coolly, Millar lifted the ball over the ‘keeper and hung the cross up to the back post where Ethan Devine got enough contact on his volley to find the corner despite the best efforts of Portadown defender Upton.
Two became three on 73 minutes with another well-worked Linfield goal. Kirk Millar delivered a pinpoint, deep cross to Ethan Devine at the back post as he headed the ball brilliantly back across goal to Eetu Vertainen who was free to head in at close range.
The scoring was rounded off five minutes from time. Kirk Millar played a short corner to Jamie Mulgrew who teed up the winger to hammer in a cross from the left, which Robbie McDaid cushioned down for Andrew Clarke to score his first league goal for the club.
Man of the match - Ethan Devine
Attendance - 2806
Full Time: Linfield 4 – 0 Portadown