Match Details
Season :
2022/2023
Date :
26th November 2022
Competition :
Irish Premier League
Venue :
Windsor Park
Referee :
Ian McNabb
Linfield Yellow Card :
Jimmy Callacher
Crusaders Yellow Cards :
Declan Caddell, Gary Thompson, Paul Heatley
Teams
Linfield Team :
Chris Johns (GK), Daniel Finlayson (Conor Pepper 69’), Jimmy Callacher, Sam Roscoe, Matthew Clarke, Jamie Mulgrew ©, Chris Shields, Cameron Palmer, Stephen Fallon (Ethan Devine 16’), Robbie McDaid, Chris McKee (Liam McStravick 75’)
Linfield Subs not used :
David Walsh, Michael Newberry, Diego Esquivel McGann, Aodhan Doherty
Crusaders Team :
Jonathan Tuffey (GK), Robbie Weir (Declan Caddell 32’), Billy Joe Burns, Daniel Larmour (Jonathan McMurray 45’), Jarlath O’Rourke, Ross Clarke, Gary Thompson, Philip Lowry, McCauley Snelgrove (Dean Ebbe 69’), Paul Heatley, Adam Lecky (Jordan Owens 69’)
Report
Linfield and Crusaders played out a goalless draw in this 17:30 kick-off at Windsor Park as both teams remain locked on 33 points, with Crusaders ahead on goal difference.

Both clubs’ squads were stretched through injuries. Crusaders had planned to start Jude Winchester, but he seemingly pulled something in the warm-up and was replaced in the eleven by McCauley Snelgrove late in the day. Things got worse as Crusaders duo Robbie Weir and Daniel Larmour both had to be withdrawn in the first half after picking up injuries.

Similarly, Linfield’s growing injury list brought opportunities for youthful trio, Liam McStravick – who celebrates his 18th birthday tomorrow, 17 year-old Diego Esquivel McGann and 16 year-old Aodhan Doherty, to take places on the bench. The Blues also suffered a blow during the first half as Stephen Fallon landed awkwardly, sustaining an injury which ended his match after 16 minutes – a real disappointment for the midfielder and for Linfield after he only returned from injury during the week.

Having started with a diamond midfield and with wide men Kirk Millar and Joel Cooper both injured, Fallon’s injury forced David Healy to change things up with Chris McKee playing off Robbie McDaid and Ethan Devine.

Linfield’s midfield three - particularly Jamie Mulgrew – drove the Blues on for prolonged periods of possession and pressure, but once they got high up the pitch, the expert delivery of Kirk Millar was probably missed. He’s currently out following surgery for a hand injury.

Robbie McDaid had some joy running in behind the Crusaders backline into the inside left channel and it brought a good opportunity on seventeen minutes when he reached a ball over the top but despite slotting the ball beyond the onrushing ‘keeper from outside the box, McDaid’s shot went wide of goal.

Another similar opportunity arose on the half-hour mark and this time when McDaid latched on to a ball over the top, the ball was sitting up and due to a backtracking defender, McDaid had to hit the ball on the half-volley, but he couldn’t get his foot around it enough to keep it within the posts and it flew wide.

Linfield duo Daniel Finlayson and Jimmy Callacher both threatened with headers from set-pieces towards the end of the first half, but both efforts were saved by Jonathan Tuffey.

Crusaders didn’t get around the Linfield box an awful lot but it was the Hatchetmen who were closest to a breakthrough in the opening half as Paul Heatley’s inswinging corner was met by Adam Lecky’s glancing header which had Chris Johns rooted to the spot, but the effort flashed inches wide on the stroke of half-time.

Half Time: Linfield 0 – 0 Crusaders

Crusaders had a spell early in the second half where they went close to scoring a couple of times within the space of a minute. The danger initially started when a corner won by Ross Clarke found its way through to the unmarked Billy Joe Burns at the back post and his clean strike on the volley was blocked on the line by Cammy Palmer.

The Blues didn’t fully clear the danger and that allowed Paul Heatley to whip in a cross which had to be clawed away by Chris Johns who then had to get back out sharply to narrow the angle and deny McCauley Snelgrove’s rebound. The ball was then received by Crusaders’ Ross Clarke but his touch past Johns was too heavy which allowed a Linfield defender to clear.

From then on, the Crues’ only real threat came when substitute Jordan Owens peeled off to the back post to meet a deep left-footed cross from Ross Clarke, but the legendary forward headed wide when the Crusaders fans in the North Stand temporarily thought he’d scored.

Linfield mounted pressure, particularly late on and were by no means settling for a point, but they just lacked a moment of brilliance. Teenage attacker Liam McStravick was again impressive when he came on – direct and brave when in possession, and also hard-working out of possession.

A late attack saw Chris Shields sweep an excellent pass into that inside left channel that Robbie McDaid likes to run into. McDaid retrieved it and could have put in a low cross in search of Ethan Devine, but he backed himself as he cut in on his stronger right foot, however, his shot was blocked and it took the sting out of the shot which proved harmless for Tuffey.

For the first time in a month, Linfield have the rarity of having no midweek fixture this week and can focus on hopefully welcoming players back into the squad for next weekend’s match at home to Carrick Rangers. Eetu Vertainen (suspension) and Kyle McClean (concussion) will hopefully both return, for starters and hopefully others won’t be far behind.

Full Time: Linfield 0 – 0 Crusaders

LinfieldFC.com Man of the Match: Chris Shields

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