Irish Premier League
Crusaders Scorers :
Jordan Forsythe 6', Philip Lowry 59'
Linfield Yellow Cards :
Cammy Palmer, Chris Shields
Crusaders Yellow Cards :
Jude Winchester, Philip Lowry
Linfield Team :
Chris Johns (GK), Daniel Finlayson, Michael Newberry, Sam Roscoe, Matthew Clarke (Robbie McDaid 66’), Chris Shields, Cammy Palmer, Jamie Mulgrew © (Kirk Millar 40’), Andrew Clarke (Chris McKee 45’), Joel Cooper, Eetu Vertainen (Ethan Devine 66’)
Linfield Subs not used :
Ben Hall, Conor Pepper, Niall Quinn
Crusaders Team :
Jonathan Tuffey (GK), Billy Joe Burns (C), Chris Hegarty, Daniel Larmour, Jarlath O’Rourke, Philip Lowry, Jude Winchester (Josh Robinson 84’), Jordan Forsythe, Ross Clarke (Declan Caddell 66’), Paul Heatley, Adam Lecky (Jordan Owens 77’)
For the second time this season, Linfield were defeated by Crusaders at Seaview under the lights this evening as the Crues moved level on points with the Blues.
Crusaders started the stronger of the teams and were rewarded after six minutes when Ross Clarke’s outswinging corner was met by Jordan Forsythe whose bullet header nestled in the roof of the net despite the efforts of Andrew Clarke on the post.
The first half was one of few chances, with Linfield creating nothing of note. Eetu Vertainen did go close, however, when he created a chance for himself, doing well to cut in from the left before striking a rocket not far wide of the upright from 20 yards.
Chris Johns then made a great reaction save to keep it at 1-0 after half-an-hour when Crusaders striker Adam Lecky turned sharply inside the box before hitting the fiercest of half-volleys which needed beaten over by the ‘keeper at his near post.
George McCartney standing in on the touchline was forced into a substitution, five minutes before the break. Despite the determination of Jamie Mulgrew who picked up a knock five to ten minutes prior, he was unable to continue and was replaced by Kirk Millar.
Half Time: Crusaders 1 – 0 Linfield
The Linfield management further changed things at half-time with the introduction of Chris McKee in place of Andrew Clarke. McKee went out left, Kirk Millar went out right and Joel Cooper played centrally behind Vertainen. There was an immediate improvement from the start of the second half, and although the flag went up a few minutes after the break when Chris McKee struck the post, it brought some encouragement to the sold-out travelling Linfield support.
They never made it count, though, and Crusaders doubled their lead on 59 minutes with a thunderbolt from Philip Lowry on his 250th appearance for the Crues. His 25-yard strike was sweetly-struck and gave Chris Johns no chance.
The Crues almost added a third on the break when they had a numerical advantage flowing forward from Linfield’s corner, but Cammy Palmer did very well to cover and intercept the final pass when Winchester attempted to square the ball across goal.
Linfield then went to an attacking 3-4-3 system and it saw them create opportunities to get back into the match, but they were wasteful with those chances.
The first one was engineered by Daniel Finlayson who excellently drove from deep, playing two one-twos to reach the Crusaders box before squaring it to Ethan Devine whose close range low shot was saved comfortably by Jonny Tuffey.
Devine had another golden opportunity minutes later when Robbie McDaid timed his run his well to get in behind and he put it on a plate when he squared it for Devine, but the striker fired over from ten yards.
McDaid himself had an effort well saved when he latched onto the ball inside the box before his well-struck volley was held by Tuffey. Ultimately, the Blues didn’t do enough in both boxes and a well below-par first half performance didn’t help their cause.
Full Time: Crusaders 2 – 0 Linfield