David Walsh (GK), Daniel Finlayson, Michael Newberry, Sam Roscoe, Niall Quinn (C), Kirk Millar, Chris Shields (Stephen Fallon 58’), Cameron Palmer (Kyle McClean 87’), Joel Cooper, Eetu Vertainen (Andrew Clarke 58’), Robbie McDaid (Joel Cooper 73’), Chris McKee (Robbie McDaid 73’)
Neil Shields. Lee Chapman, Chris Rodgers, Jay Magee (C), Michael Kerr, Ryan McKay, Tony Kane, Leon Bonnes, Eamon Fyfe, Rhys Annett, David Fearon
For the second time in four days, a goal from Robbie McDaid was enough to secure a 1-0 win for the Blues. This time the striker made an instant impact from the bench to progress Linfield into the last eight of the NIFL League Cup.
David Healy’s men were made to work hard for their victory over Dundela at Wilgar Park, with Niall Currie’s Championship side well up for the fight whilst well organised at the back. The Duns pushed until the last whistle and a few great saves from young Linfield ‘keeper David Walsh proved vital.
The Blues started quite brightly and within minutes an excellent low cross from Chris McKee flashed across goal, slightly beyond the reach of Ethan Devine after a good ball into the channel by Daniel Finlayson who was on the Blues’ standout performers on a very wet night in east Belfast. A short time later, Devine had a good effort when he chested the ball before a dipping volley from 20 yards which was saved.
Dundela had two opportunities in the first half. The Duns pressed Linfield hard quite high up the pitch and on one particular occasion when they were rewarded, it allowed Eamon Fyfe to run to the edge of the box before hitting a low strike across the water surface and it had to be well saved by David Walsh down to his left.
Club captain, central defender Jay Magee also threatened for the hosts when he got up well to meet a free-kick delivery from another vastly experienced former Irish Premiership player, Tony Kane, but the header flashed over.
Linfield’s closest moments in front of goal in the first half came for Eetu Vertainen who had a crisp 20-yard strike well saved by Neil Shields down to his right, and for Niall Quinn whose shot from Kirk Millar’s deep cross was hooked off the face of goal by Chris Rodgers.
Half Time: Dundela 0 - 0 Linfield
Niall Quinn went close again early in the second half. The introduction of Stephen Fallon brought a bit more invention to Linfield’s attacking play and he was involved in the build-up and Chris McKee was able to tee up Quinn in the box, but his shot was more central that he’d have liked and the ‘keeper managed to make the save at close range.
A big moment in the match came on 69 minutes when Dundela attacker Benny Igiehon must have thought he was about to put the Duns into the lead. The former Ards striker picked up the ball one-on-one with a Linfield defender and once he got into the box he made enough room to get a strike away, and it was a well-struck effort too. David Walsh showed great reactions and a strong hand to spring to his left and make a superb save.
Typically, Linfield then converted their big chance just five minutes later. Two minutes after their arrivals off the bench, substitutes Joel Cooper and Robbie McDaid made instant impacts. Cooper drove past a full-back before his deflected cross fell nicely into the path of McDaid to convert at close range for his fourth goal of the season.
The two almost linked up again to seal the win on 84 minutes, but this time there was a misunderstanding as Cooper looked to square it to McDaid after going in the clear, but the pass went beyond the forward who was preparing for an easy finish. It seemed that the two weren’t on the same wavelength on this occasion, rather than it being a case of a slack pass.
Dundela piled everyone forward in search of a leveller and they almost got it in the third of four additional minutes when a loose ball fell the way of veteran Tony Kane whose instinctive left-foot volley had to be well saved by David Walsh down low to his left to push the ball out.
Full Time: Dundela 0 – 1 Linfield