18th November 2022
Irish Premier League
Linfield Scorers :
Chris McKee 27', Jimmy Callacher 51'
Linfield Team :
Chris Johns (GK), Daniel Finlayson, Jimmy Callacher, Sam Roscoe, Matthew Clarke, Jamie Mulgrew ©, Chris Shields, Cameron Palmer (Kyle McClean 66'), Kirk Millar (Conor Pepper 83'), Robbie McDaid (Eetu Vertainen 86'), Chris McKee (Ethan Devine 83')
Linfield Subs not used :
Walsh, Newberry, Fallon
Ballymena United Team :
Sean O'Neill (GK), Mikey Place, Scot Whiteside, Dougie Wilson (Jordan Gibson 74'), Conor Keeley, Ross Redman (Steven McCullough 45'), Evan Tweed (Jack Henderson 54'), Josh Kelly (C), Kym Nelson, Ryan Waide (Kenneth Kane 74'), David McDaid
Stalwart central defender Jimmy Callacher marked his 350th Linfield appearance in style as he scored one and assisted one in the Blues’ 2-0 win over Ballymena United under the floodlights at the Ballymena Showgrounds this evening.
It was David Healy’s men’s sixth win in seven games, and it extends their run to seven matches without defeat as the champions look to be building momentum during a busy November schedule.
The Blues took a 27th minute lead when United failed to clear a corner. Linfield won the second ball courtesy of Daniel Finlayson who headed the ball back into the mix where it was headed on by Jimmy Callacher who showed good awareness to head the ball into the path of young Linfield forward Chris McKee who finished brilliantly with a volley into the roof of the net from around six yards for his first goal of the season.
A battling Ballymena United had made a positive start to the match and went close on a couple of occasions. The closest they came was through star striker David McDaid who picked up a loose ball between Linfield’s midfield and back four, before driving at the back four and firing a low strike inches wide of the bottom corner that he was looking for.
David Jeffrey’s men also threatened from two set-pieces. Firstly, Ross Redman’s deep corner was headed back across for the returning Dougie Wilson who had space for a free header but he could only head straight at Chris Johns.
Another good delivery from Ross Redman – this time a free-kick from just inside Linfield’s half – was met by United centre half Conor Keeley who turned the ball not far wide of the far post.
Robbie McDaid almost doubled Linfield’s lead towards the end of the first half when he headed a corner delivery by Kirk Millar just wide. On the stroke of half-time came Linfield’s best move of the match as Cammy Palmer switched the ball wide left to Robbie McDaid and he then fed the overlapping run of Matthew Clarke, but the cross he fizzed in was slightly too high for the unmarked Kirk Millar at the back post area.
Half Time: Ballymena United 0 – 1 Linfield
David Healy’s men doubled their advantage just six minutes into the second half and it came via another set-piece. Kirk Millar fizzed in a corner delivery across the six yard box and Jimmy Callacher guided the ball into the net with the top of his foot. Just like McKee, Callacher opened his account for the season. Having struck the woodwork against Glenavon last weekend, some may suggest this goal had been coming for the classy defender.
The Sky Blues had a good opportunity to get themselves back into contention with around 15 minutes remaining in the match when Mikey Place’s deep corner delivery found Dougie Wilson who headed just wide of goal from a good position.
Linfield were otherwise fairly comfortable seeing out their lead and almost added a third in the closing minutes. The Blues were awarded a penalty when Jamie Mulgrew was fouled by United’s veteran ‘keeper Sean O’Neill as the midfielder attempted to round him after being played through by Ethan Devine. From the spot the normally-reliable Chris Shields was very unfortunate to see his penalty strike the inside of the left post before rolling along the line and against the other post before Ballymena scrambled the ball out.
Nonetheless, another pleasing win for David Healy and his team, with the only disappointment coming when Cameron Palmer picked up a knock. Things have gone full circle now, given that the Blues started their good run of form off the back of a disappointing 4-2 defeat at home to Larne last month, and that fixture is repeated in Linfield’s next outing on Tuesday evening. Let’s hope it brings a different outcome for the Blues this time around.
Full Time: Ballymena United 0 – 2 Linfield
LinfieldFC.com Man of the Match: Jimmy Callacher