Linfield 2 - 0 Ballymena United

League - NIFL Premiership
Saturday, January 21st, 2017, 3:00 PM at Windsor Park
Attendance: 2,364
Referee: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown)
Linfield Ballymena United

Mark Stafford (15)
Andrew Waterworth (78)

Team Managers
David Healy David Jeffrey

Starting Eleven
Roy Carroll
Mark Stafford
Mark Haughey
Jimmy Callacher
Andrew Waterworth
Aaron Burns
Sean Ward
Matthew Clarke
Stephen Lowry
Stephen Fallon
Ross Gaynor
Alan Blayney
Adam McCracken
Caolan Loughran
Jim Ervin
Kyle Owens
Tony Kane
Conor McCloskey
Gavin Taggart
William Faulkner
Jonathan McMurray
Joseph McKinney

Cameron Stewart
Kirk Millar
Chris Casement
Kevin Amuneke
Josh Carson
Ben McCauley
Allan Jenkins
Eoin Kane
Darren Henderson
Neil Lowry

Kirk Millar for Stephen Fallon (62)
Cameron Stewart for Ross Gaynor (73)
Kevin Amuneke for Andrew Waterworth (83)
Allan Jenkins for Gavin Taggart (45)

Aaron Burns (28)
Matthew Clarke (60)
Cameron Stewart (76)
William Faulkner (85)

Red Cards
None. None.
Appearances & Goals To Date
Alan Blayney (GK) 74 apps -
Tony Kane 221 apps28 goals
Kyle Owens 31 apps5 goals
Caolan Loughran 23 apps2 goals
Adam McCracken 9 apps -
Jim Ervin 111 apps2 goals
William Faulkner 62 apps10 goals
Gavin Taggart 185 apps6 goals
Conor McCloskey 18 apps2 goals
Joseph McKinney 2 apps -
Jonathan McMurray 27 apps10 goals
Allan Jenkins (sub) 237 apps48 goals

Starting Lineup
Youngest Player:Adam McCracken (18 years 66 days)
Oldest Player:Alan Blayney (35 years 113 days)
Average Player Age:26 years 160 days
Domestic Players:11 (100.00 % of starting eleven)

Matchday Squad
Youngest Player:Adam McCracken (18 years 66 days)
Oldest Player:Allan Jenkins (35 years 115 days)
Average Player Age:26 years 100 days
Domestic Players:15 (93.75 % of matchday squad)

A GOAL in either half was enough to give Linfield a 2-0 win over Ballymena United at the National Stadium today.

Ballymena started well and Joe McKinney called Roy Carroll into action early on, with the Linfield keeper getting down well to make the save.

5 minutes later United were in again when Johnny McMurray broke on the counter attack. With Willie Faulkner in space beside him, McMurray opted to go it alone and fired over. Linfields first real chance came on 11 minutes, when a Ross Gaynor corner was met at the back post by Aaron Burns, but he headed wide. Linfield continued to press and broke the deadlock on 16 minutes. Stephen Lowry's free kick wasn't well dealt with by Alan Blayney and the ball eventually fell to Mark Stafford around 12 yards out who hammered home, despite the best efforts of Adam McCracken to keep it out.

Linfield could've doubled their advantage afterwards when Burns again got his head on a corner, but Conor McCloskey was able to head clear off the line. Ballymena couldn't have went closer to an equaliser on 25 minutes, when somehow McCloskey's header was stopped on the line by Carroll before McKinney's close range follow up was also blocked.

Andy Waterworth went close for Linfield on the half hour mark with a powerful effort that was well saved by Blayney. Both sides continued to push for the game's second goal and it was almost provided by McMurray, but he was denied by a wonderful quick reflex save by Carroll. McMurray timed a volley inside the box to perfection but Carroll somehow managed to keep it out. With 3 minutes left in the half, midfielder Gavin Taggart was taken off with a nasty looking shoulder injury and replaced by Allan Jenkins.

The second period was slow to get going as both sides probed to get a foothold in the half. The first real chance came on the hour mark when Faulkner's stray ball was picked up by Stephen Fallon and he played in Burns, only for Jim Ervin to be on hand with a crucial deflection over.

On 65 minutes the crossbar saved the Sky Blues from going two goals behind. Carroll's goalkick was missed completely by the Ballymena defence and fell to Burns who neatly lobbed Blayney, only to see his effort come off the bar before United cleared. After that let-off the away side went close to levelling the game. Nice build up play saw the ball come to Jenkins on the edge of the box, and the Scotsman slid the ball through to McCloskey who saw his dragged effort narrowly miss the goal.

On 77 minutes, Linfield looked to have put the game to bed with their second, courtesy of Waterworth. A long ball from Lowry took out the United defence and Waterworth found himself 1 on 1 with Blayney, who he calmly slotted past to double the host's lead.
Late on Ballymena tried to set up a grandstand finish before added time. On 88 minutes, Carroll pulled off another tremendous save to thwart McMurray again. A perfect cross from Tony Kane found McMurray who looked certain to head home, but Carroll stopped well as Linfield took all three points.

Match report written by Phillip McPeake

Pld W D L F A +/- Pts
1. Crusaders 26 19 5 2 59 22 37 62
2. Linfield 26 16 7 3 56 18 38 55
3. Cliftonville 26 15 4 7 42 28 14 49
4. Coleraine 26 12 7 7 38 28 10 43
5. Ballymena United 26 13 3 10 54 55 -1 42
6. Glenavon 26 9 10 7 41 40 1 37
7. Dungannon Swifts 26 9 8 9 45 38 7 35
8. Glentoran 26 8 7 11 32 39 -7 31
9. Ards 26 7 5 14 37 47 -10 26
10. Ballinamallard United 26 6 5 15 30 51 -21 23
11. Carrick Rangers 26 3 5 18 18 54 -36 14
12. Portadown 26 5 2 19 19 51 -32 5
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