Match Report

Below-par Linfield were punished by a wounded Carrick Rangers who came away from Windsor Park with a point this afternoon.

Hurting from their midweek thrashing against Crusaders at Seaview, Carrick were up for this from the start and were the better side in the opening ten minutes. Linfield struggled to get going and the visitors were almost ahead inside ninety seconds when Joe Crowe headed wide from David Cushley’s free-kick delivery.

Sloppy play at the back paved the way for Carrick to take the lead after 19 minutes as David Cushley intercepted Ben Hall’s pass in search of Chris Shields. He was probably the last man Linfield wanted to see on the end of it and he showed his pedigree to thunder the ball in from 25 yards.

The Blues start to pick up a bit after that and they drew level on 26 minutes. A short corner was taken to Kirk Millar who found Kyle McClean inside the box and he was fouled by David Cushley. Chris Shields stepped up and dispatched the penalty.

Another short corner caused trouble for the visitors, only this time they were rescued by a wonderful save by Ross Glendinning to deny Jack Scott’s header from Kirk Millar’s corner. Soon after, the influential Millar found McKee again but this time his header was an easy save for the ‘keeper.

The Blues then got their noses ahead on 34 minutes when Kyle McClean flicked a header onto Matthew Clarke who timed his run in behind to find himself in on goal and the defender showed composure to tuck the ball under the ‘keeper.

Linfield’s lead lasted just two minutes, however, as the run of Carrick Rangers wing-back Ben Tilney was not followed as he gave a one-two to find himself with space to pick his cross on the left wing. From there he found Danny Purkis getting across the front post and the Carrick striker finished well.

Half Time: Linfield 2 – 2 Carrick Rangers

After a quiet opening fifteen minutes in the second half, Linfield went close twice within a minute. Firstly, Ben Hall stepped out from the back and tried his luck with a 30-yard effort which flashed not far wide. Soon after, Joel Cooper played Chris McKee through and the striker was denied by a good save from Ross Glendinning with his leg.

David Healy’s team then retook the lead with 15 minutes remaining as a free-kick won by Joel Cooper on the right was delivered by Kirk Millar and headed in by Ben Hall who atoned for his earlier error.

They then had a golden opportunity to add a valuable fourth, but it was passed up and that would prove costly. It would have been an excellent team goal, too. Chris Shields switched the ball out wide right to Kirk Millar whose touch and cross was perfect to put it on a plate for the unmarked substitute Darragh McBrien who skewed a shot wide of the post.

Carrick Rangers then came biting back once more as Nedas Maciulaitis broke down the left and whipped in a pinpoint cross for Danny Purkis to head in at the back post for his second goal of the match.

In the final nine minutes, plus another five additional minutes, Linfield had three opportunities. Daniel Finlayson headed just wide from a corner, Rhys Annett hit the side netting when through on goal, and right at the death, Chris McKee lashed over a free-kick from a central position 20 yards out which ends his goalscoring streak.

Full Time: Linfield 3 – 3 Carrick Rangers

Attendance 1855 Man of the Match: Kirk Millar

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