Linfield Team :
Chris Johns (GK), Daniel Finlayson, Jimmy Callacher, Sam Roscoe, Matthew Clarke, Chris Shields, Jamie Mulgrew © (Cameron Palmer 89’), Kirk Millar, Joel Cooper (Max Haygarth 89’), Eetu Vertainen (Chris McKee 59’), Kyle Lafferty (Andrew Clarke 90’)
Linfield Subs not used :
David Walsh (GK), Ben Hall, Rhys Annett
Coleraine Team :
Gareth Deane (GK), Lyndon Kane, Stephen O’Donnell, Conor McDermott, Dean Jarvis, Aaron Jarvis, Lee Lynch, Jamie Glackin, Andrew Scott, Jack O’Mahoney (Eamon Fyfe 75’), Matthew Shevlin (Michael McCrudden 83’)
Coleraine Subs not used :
Doherty (GK), Mullan, Carson, Carlin, McLaughlin
Linfield kept themselves in title contention with a valuable three points over Coleraine at Windsor Park this afternoon.
It was certainly a much more entertaining and engaging contest than the two previous meetings between the teams this season, both of which had ended in goalless draws.
With both teams showing intent from the off, it was unsurprising that the game would have an early goal, and it came for Linfield. Coleraine defender Dean Jarvis was penalised for handball inside the box as referee Shane Andrews pointed to the spot. Chris Shields stepped up and fired the ball into the left corner, sending Bannsiders ‘keeper Gareth Deane the opposite direction as Linfield took a 13th-minute lead.
The Blues enjoyed a good spell of pressure following the opening goal as they looked for a second goal, and it almost arrived courtesy of Daniel Finlayson who rose high to meet Kirk Millar’s free-kick delivery from the left before seeing his header flash not far wide of goal.
Coleraine did have a strong spell towards the end of the half, however, and will have been disappointed for the half-time whistle to come along following a few good chances in quick succession.
A great save from Chris Johns kept the Bannsiders out a few minutes before the half end when Jack O’Mahoney squeezed in a low cross to the front post area where Jamie Glackin got an instinctive toe to turn the ball towards the bottom corner, and Johns’ reactions were excellent to get down and push the ball around the post. Moments prior, Glackin had put in a dangerous cross in across the face of goal but Shevlin was unable to get onto the end of it.
Andrew Scott also had a great chance when he got round the back to the back post area to find himself in space to receive Lyndon Kane’s excellent deep cross, however the winger didn’t make clean contact and seemed to slip in the process which led to a comfortable save for Johns.
Half Time: Linfield 1 – 0 Coleraine
An aggressive start to the second half by Linfield was rewarded with a well-worked second goal. It arrived five minutes into the second half, with Joel Cooper spreading the ball to Kirk Millar out wide right and his cross to the back post was met by Matthew Clarke who rose powerfully to see a strong header excellently saved by Deane who could only watch on as Eetu Vertainen tapped in the rebound.
The Blues were agonisingly close to adding a third goal just three minutes later following a set-piece when Joel Cooper retrieved the ball on the left before squeezing a low cross to the front post area where Daniel Finlayson’s shot struck the crossbar from close range.
Linfield continued to search for a third goal in the knowledge that it would in all likelihood put the game beyond Coleraine, but it wasn’t forthcoming as Jamie Mulgrew volleyed wide from 20 yards, whilst there was appeals for a second penalty against Dean Jarvis waved away as the ball struck the defender’s hand inside the box.
The Bannsiders almost pulled one back on 86 minutes when they won a contested corner delivery, and the second ball was a glancing header from captain Stephen O’Donnell who headed wide of goal. The last action of the game saw Eamon Fyfe’s free-kick deflected wide from the edge of the box.
All in all, a strong Linfield team performance with solid performers all over the pitch, and a deserved victory. Next up is a trip to face League leaders Larne at Inver Park in ten days’ time and, given the Inver men are seven points ahead of the Blues with eight matches remaining, it’s a mouthwatering fixture.
Full Time: Linfield 2 – 0 Coleraine
LinfieldFC.com Man of the Match: Chris Shields
Attendance – 2689