Linfield Team :

David Walsh (GK), Michael Newberry (Jack Scott 45’), Ben Hall (Daniel Finlayson 45’), Chris Shields (Joshua Archer 45’), Ryan McKay (Matthew Clarke 45’), Kirk Millar (Max Haygarth 45’), Stephen Fallon (Jamie Mulgrew 45’), Andrew Clarke (Kyle McClean 45’), Joel Cooper (Chris McKee 64’), Chris McKee (Liam McStravick 45’), Matthew Fitzpatrick (John Robertson 45’)

The New Saints Team :

Connor Roberts (GK), Josh Daniels (Ryan Astles 60’), Danny Davies (Blaine Hudson 45’), Josh Pask (Billy Kirkman 60’), Chris Marriott (Josh Routledge 60’), Ben Clark (Leo Smith 60’), Dan Williams (Danny Redmond 60’), Jake Canavan (Ryan Brobbel 60’), Jordan Williams (Adrian Cieslewicz 60’), Adam Roscrow (Nick Grogan 45’), Declan McManus (Gwion Dafydd 45’)

Following last year’s blockbuster UEFA Champions League First Qualifying Round clash between Linfield and TNS, the teams met again this afternoon – this time in a low-key training match at Midgley Park.

The Welsh champions have been on a pre-season tour of Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland this week, playing Bohemians in Dublin on Monday, and also Crusaders at Seaview last night, and by welcoming them Linfield had a chance to get some minutes into the legs of the First Team squad who recently returned to training ahead of the 2023-24 season.

Both teams had an early opportunity apiece, with Linfield’s coming from nice link-up play between Kirk Millar and Matthew Fitzpatrick. This allowed Millar time to space and he picked out Chris McKee in the middle, but a defender prevented the Linfield striker from getting good connection on a shot. TNS then created an opportunity up the other end but Linfield ‘keeper Walsh got his angles right to make a good save to keep out Jordan Williams’ shot. When TNS striker Williams did then beat David Walsh a short time later, he was denied by the linesman’s flag for offside.

The Blues then made a breakthrough to open the scoring on 21 minutes following a move down the left which led to Stephen Fallon storming onto the ball to hammer home from 20 yards.

Chris McKee then made it 2-0 on 25 minutes when he intelligently caught the visitors playing out from the back and from there it was a bit of class to dribble past the goalkeeper and slot into an empty net.

Declan McManus was unlucky not to pull one back for the Welsh champions two minutes before the break. His shot may well have been beating the ‘keeper, had the instinctive Chris Shields not been back to head off the line.

Half Time: Linfield 2 – 0 The New Saints

The Blues went close to a third goal fifteen minutes into the second half when the lively Jack Scott fizzed an excellent cross right across the face of goal, with both John Robertson and Max Haygarth so close to getting a telling touch on the end of it.

Robertson threatened again on 68 minutes when Max Haygarth brilliantly engineered a chance to cross and he pulled the ball back to the Scottish forward who fired wide, and again later when he showed good feet inside the box to get a shot away which was well saved at close range.

Neat link-up play between Jack Scott and Chris McKee then led to the latter sliding a through ball for Liam McStravick whose low shot flashed just inches past the far post.

TNS had a few late opportunities, with David Walsh making a good save to an awkward shot that took multiple deflections on its way through. An excellent move from the hosts then ended with Leo Smith firing just wide on the far post.

Full Time: Linfield 2 – 0 The New Saints


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