13th September 2022
Linfield Scorers :
Niall Quinn 30', Kirk Millar 41', Andrew Clarke 46', Eetu Vertainen 79', Robbie McDaid 84'
Moyola Park Scorer :
Jake McNeil 31'
Linfield Team :
David Walsh (GK), Michael Newberry, Jimmy Callacher ©, Sam Roscoe, Kirk Millar (Joel Cooper 67'), Cameron Palmer, Kyle McClean (Chris Shields 67’), Niall Quinn, Andrew Clarke (Robbie McDaid 82'), Eetu Vertainen, Chris McKee (Ethan Devine 62’)
Linfield Subs not used :
Chris Johns, Daniel Finlayson, Stephen Fallon
Moyola Park Team :
Andrew Findlay (GK), Aaron Harris (C), Robert McLean, Jake Francis, Richard Vauls, Samuel McIlveen, Ian Parkhill, Mark Edgar, Jake McNeill, Adam Gray, David O'Brien
Moyola Park Subs not used :
Jamie Logan, Tom Patchett, Oisin O'Mullan, Caolan Gillan, Jack Millar, Jack King
Linfield tonight safely booked their passage through to last sixteen of the NIFL League Cup with victory over Premier Intermediate League outfit Moyola Park in Castledawson.
The Blues – who last won the competition in 2019 – named a strong line-up, once again displaying their squad depth, and they threatened for the first time after nine minutes. Kirk Millar, unsurprisingly, at the heart of it as he beat a man in midfield before seeing his 20 yard drive whistle just past the bottom corner.
A great last-ditch tackle by home defender Richard Vauls let his goalkeeper off the hook after it momentarily looked as if his weak clearance had set Eetu Vertainen in the clear. However, the keeper then showed his class with a great save to deny the striker’s shot from inside the box minutes later, having been found by Andrew Clarke.
The breakthrough in the match came on the half-hour mark as Linfield took the lead. Typically, Kirk Millar’s cross from the right was inch perfect. He hammered the ball across with fizz on it to pick out Niall Quinn who finish well, wrapping his foot around a volley on his 351st Linfield appearance.
Moyola Park, to their credit, did not let their heads drop and their response was both instant and emphatic. The hosts levelled within two minutes and it came from a moment of class from forward David O’Brien who produced great trickery to beat two Linfield defenders in the box and when his shot was well saved by the diving David Walsh, midfielder Jake McNeil was following up to prod home the leveller, much to the delight of a good home support.
Then just ten minutes after Moyola Park’s equaliser, Linfield restored their lead. A long pass for Kirk Millar was pinpoint and when it became clear that the winger would beat the onrushing ‘keeper to the ball at the cost of a clattering, Millar didn’t shirk away as he nipped in to lob the goalkeeper with a great finish from 20 yards. Thankfully, he was soon back up on his feet and able to continue.
Half Time: Moyola Park 1 - 2 Linfield
Moyola Park’s half-time team talk was probably undone a minute into the second half as the Blues doubled their lead. Niall Quinn’s free-kick delivery from the right was only cleared as far as young Linfield attacker Andrew Clarke who clinically rifled in from around 15 yards.
Two minutes after that, Eetu Vertainen nipped in on a weak backpass to lift the ball over the goalkeeper but his shot lacked the power to send it over the line. However, he felt he was pulled down in the process. Chris McKee raced in for the rebound and will wonder how he didn’t score as the defender did really well to get back and block the shot from a yard out.
The Blues then almost gifted the hosts a route back into the match when they gave away possession right on the edge of their own box when playing from the back out, but Michael Newberry did brilliantly to make a vital last-ditch sliding block.
Eetu Vertainen then made it 4-1 with 11 minutes remaining with a classy goal, receiving the ball from Cameron Palmer before a skilful half-turn which beat the defender and allowed him to race clear before showing composure to slot the ball low into the net from close range.
The last goal of the match came on 84 minutes. Just two minutes after coming on as a substitute, Robbie McDaid appeared to force the ball over the line at close range from Ethan Devine’s cross. McDaid was battling with a defender who seemed to also get a touch on it. A closer look may be required, but it seems in everyone’s best interests to credit McDaid with his second goal in three matches.
Full Time: Moyola Park 1 – 5 Linfield