Linfield maintained their unbeaten start to the Sports Direct Premiership with a strong performance and result away to Coleraine this afternoon.

Blues boss David Healy made two changes from the team which to his disappointment drew 3-3 at home to Carrick Rangers last week. Michael Newberry and Jamie Mulgrew came into the eleven in place of Kirk Millar and John Robertson. Linfield’s Scottish deadline day signing Euan East was not yet eligible for selection.

The Blues made a positive start at The Showgrounds and took a twelfth-minute lead when influential midfielder Kyle McClean latched onto the ball on the edge of the box before firing a left-footed strike into the corner past Deane.

Healy’s men then had a good spell after the opener as Joel Cooper threatened with a strike from outside the box which flashed not too far over the crossbar. However, Coleraine really should have levelled midway through the first half when Matthew Shevlin fired wide a chance at close range that nine times out of ten he would convert.

Soon after, Coleraine’s Andy Scott cut inside and shot which drew a save from Chris Johns down low to his right. Aside from that, all the chances came Linfield’s way in the remainder of the half. Chris McKee headed just wide from a Matthew Clarke cross, Joel Cooper later curled a strike just past the top corner from 20 yards.

The last chance of the half was for Jack Scott who was brilliantly found running in behind by Chris McKee’s threaded pass. The angle was wide of the goal and Gareth Deane came rushing out to great effect to narrow the angle and make a good save.

Half Time: Coleraine 0 – 1 Linfield

The Bannsiders made a bright start in the second half and were rewarded on 53 minutes when forward David McDaid did well to keep the ball in play before hooking in a cross into a crowded box and it was forced over the line by Jamie Glackin.

After last week’s disappointing result, David Healy will be delighted with how his side reacted to the setback of Coleraine drawing level. The response was almost an instant one as Kyle McClean whipped in a free-kick at the other end, finding the unmarked Ben Hall who headed over at the back post area.

And fast forward another couple of minutes, there was controversy as Joel Cooper thought he’d put the Blues back in front when he outmuscled defender Dean Jarvis under a loose ball, only for the referee to blow up for what he felt was a push.

The Blues were then deservedly back in front on 64 minutes. A neat move down the left saw Chris McKee stylishly chip the ball into Matthew Clarke who headed the ball into the box behind Coleraine’s Lyndon Kane who was beaten to it by the desire of Kyle McClean who he brought down. Chris Shields converted the spotkick with typical conviction.

A critical point in the game at 2-1, Chris Johns made a good save at his near post to stop Andy Scott’s drive from distance. From a corner that followed, Jack Scott intercepted and raced from one end of the pitch to the other before being denied by Gareth Deane. It was great play which deserved a goal at the end of it.

The Blues then got the added security of a third goal following a decisive breakaway, Joel Cooper’s pace and power once again proving troublesome for Coleraine as he broke in behind before supplying the perfect weight of pass across goal for Chris McKee to tuck the ball away at close range.

Cooper himself very nearly got in on the act when Matthew Clarke’s cross fell for the attacker whose shot was somehow blocked on the line. Chris Shields then curled a strike agonisingly wide of the post with the goalkeeper seemingly beaten.

Full Time: Coleraine 1 – 3 Linfield


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