Joel Cooper 4', 42', 45', 64', Matthew Clarke 24', Chris McKee 54', 57'
Chris Johns (GK), Daniel Finlayson, Jimmy Callacher, Sam Roscoe, Matthew Clarke (Andrew Clarke 58’), Chris Shields (Kyle McClean 58’), Jamie Mulgrew © (Cameron Palmer 58’), Kirk Millar (Max Haygarth 67’), Joel Cooper (Ethan Devine 67’), Chris McKee, Kyle Lafferty
Niall Brady (Shane Halpenny 57’) (GK), Darren King, Andrew Martin, Ryan McGivern, Noel Healy, Thomas Lockhart (James Teelan 60), Philip Donnelly (Liam MacNamee 86), Donal Scullion, John McGovern, Brian Healy (Declan Carville 74), Olajuwon Bamidele Adeyemo (Matthew Lusty 60)
Linfield ruthlessly swept aside Newry City with a seven-goal margin of victory in a Danske Bank Premiership fixture at Windsor Park this afternoon as Joel Cooper grabbed the headlines with four goals on his 150th Linfield appearance.
The visitors however were better than the scoreline suggests; they just got Linfield on a bad day. They started brightly and won a corner after eight seconds and that led to Newry midfielder Philip Donnelly going close with an audacious effort in the first minute, when the corner was only headed out as far as the left of the 18 yard line where Donnelly hit a well-struck volley not far over the crossbar.
The Blues then scored with their first attack, on four minutes when Joel Cooper retrieved the ball just outside the Newry box before beating Donal Scullion, followed by a low strike into the bottom right corner.
It was almost two-nil just a few minutes later when Kirk Millar’s deep corner delivery was met by Jimmy Callacher, but at full stretch the defender fired over the crossbar.
Darren Mullen’s men then had a huge chance to equalise after 16 minutes when John McGovern slipped through Olajuwon Bamidele Adeyemo in on goal after he got in behind a high back-line, however he was then foiled by Chris Johns who made a good stop.
The Blues again showed a ruthlessness to double their lead on 24 minutes. Jamie Mulgrew was unlucky to see his outside-of-the-foot shot flash across the face of goal, but Kirk Millar then retrieved the ball before crossing to the back post where Matthew Clarke rose to head in his first goal of the season.
Having previously been denied by a diving save to a shot from the edge of the box, Joel Cooper then netted his second and Linfield’s third, on 42 minutes when he raced around the back to meet a deep free-kick delivery from Kirk Millar before finishing first-time. Straight off the training ground.
Super Cooper then completed his hat-trick on the stroke of half-time when he raced onto a great pass by Daniel Finlayson before the winger brilliantly poked the ball into the far top corner with his left foot on the stretch.
Half Time: Linfield 4 – 0 Newry City
Despite their four-goal lead at the break, Linfield didn’t ease up and added a fifth goal nine minutes into the second half as Joel Cooper turned provider, cutting in from the right of the halfway line before slotting through an excellent through ball to send Chris McKee through on goal and he coolly slotted the ball beyond the ‘keeper into the far corner.
McKee netted again just three minutes later to make it six. Jamie Mulgrew’s shot from the edge of the box was parried by Newry ‘keeper Niall Brady, who dislocated his shoulder in the process and McKee was following up to convert the rebound.
Joel Cooper netted what would prove to be the last goal of the match when he produced the goal of the day. McKee won the ball high up and fed it out right to Lafferty who then set Cooper to curl in a beauty form 20 yards for his fourth and Linfield’s seventh.
Chris McKee was unlucky not to clinch a hat-trick late on when, after bursting into the box, he saw his low strike flash agonisingly wide of the far post. Andrew Clarke and Max Haygarth were also unlucky as they were denied by an excellent double save by Newry City’s substitute goalkeeper Shane Halpenny.
Chris Johns also made a good save late in the match when he tipped over a fierce strike from Newry winger James Teelan. Credit to the visiting supporters who sang from start to finish despite the scoreline.
The win moves Linfield into second place, two points above Cliftonville who were beaten by Dungannon Swifts this afternoon. Incidentally, Linfield’s next fixture is away to Dungannon Swifts on Friday evening, as the Blues try to claw back a seven-point deficit from League leaders Larne with six matches remaining.
Full Time: Linfield 7 – 0 Newry City
LinfieldFC.com Man of the Match: Joel Cooper