Match Details
Season :
Date :
28th October 2023
Competition :
Irish Premier League
Venue :
Windsor Park
Referee :
Steven Gregg
Linfield Scorers :
Joel Cooper 10’, Matthew Clarke 53’, Chris McKee 57’, 86’, Darragh McBrien 70’
Loughgall Scorer :
Pablo Andrade 45'
Loughgall Yellow Card :
Pablo Andrade
Linfield Team :
Chris Johns (GK), Michael Newberry, Ben Hall, Euan East, Matthew Clarke, Chris Shields, Kyle McClean (Jamie Mulgrew 73’), Kirk Millar, Joel Cooper (Darragh McBrien 66’), Matthew Fitzpatrick, Chris McKee (Rhys Annett 87’)
Linfield Subs not used :
David Walsh (GK), Dane McCullough, Joshua Archer, Max Haygarth
Loughgall Team :
Berraat Turker (GK), Pablo Andrade, Ben Murdock ©, James Carroll, Luke Cartwright, Tiernan Kelly (Oran Brogan 66’), Robbie Norton (Jordan Gibson 41’), Alan Teggart (Andrew Hoey 76’), Mark Patton (Jamie Rea 76’), Benjamin Magee, Jay Boyd (Nathaniel Ferris 76’)
Loughgall Subs not used :
Daniel Devine (GK), Caolan McAleer
Linfield today extended their lead at the top of the Sports Direct Premiership by a further point, to move eight points clear by hitting five past newly-promoted Loughgall at Windsor Park.

With the exception of their 6-0 defeat away to Glentoran, Loughgall have been very competitive in every match they’ve played this season. They’ve beaten champions Larne, and went to Crusaders and Cliftonville to come back from north Belfast with two points, so the Blues knew they’d have to be on their game this afternoon – and they were.

The Blues took the lead in the tenth minute and there was a degree of fortune about it. Joel Cooper received the ball wide on the left before advancing and cutting inside onto his right foot, and when he struck a low right-footed shot from just outside the box, it took a deflection which diverted the ball past the diving goalkeeper. The winger will claim it as his seventh goal this season.

Linfield created several further chances in the first half but were unable to add a second goal before the break. Kirk Millar’s cross flashed right across the face of goal and not far beyond the far post just moments after the goal, and Cooper almost added a second when he was found inside the box from a short corner, however his goalbound shot was crucially blocked by Tiernan Kelly in front of his net.

Loughgall passed up a good opportunity against the run of play midway through the first half. The Villagers looked at their most dangerous from set-plays and this opportunity came from a corner delivered by Mark Patton. The ball was touched down to Crusaders loanee Jay Boyd whose shot from 12 yards was well saved by Chris Johns.

A while later, another Loughgall corner brought danger to Linfield as Mark Patton retrieved the ball after his initial corner was only half cleared, and he worked the ball onto his right foot for a cross-come-shot which drifted awkwardly over the head of Chris Johns, dropping just past the far post.

As Linfield continued to carve out opportunities – mostly through the creativity of wingers Kirk Millar and Joel Cooper – the ball just wasn’t falling for them in the box. Ben Hall saw a header flash across goal, and Euan East had a shot saved following neat play between Newberry and Shields.

Things just aren’t going Matthew Fitzpatrick’s way in front of goal despite doing a lot of good work outside the box. Late in the first half, the Linfield striker was desperately unlucky as he nipped in ahead of the onrushing ‘keeper and, when faced with the tightest of angles, he took on a shot which flashes agonisingly across the face of goal. It was a really good effort.

After several missed opportunities for Linfield, the Blues were pegged back to level terms on the brink of half-time as Loughgall clinically took their opportunity. It came from a free-kick just inside the Linfield half, put into the box by Mark Patton and knocked down to former Linfield Youth player Pablo Andrade as the wing-back produced some Brazilian magic with a sweet 20-yard left-foot volley.

Half Time: Linfield 1 – 1 Loughgall

Dean Smith and Loughgall will look back upon a free-kick five minutes into the second half as a ‘What if?’ moment in the game. The Villagers’ free-kick from the left was delivered by Mark Patton who picked out James Carroll who won the header unchallenged, but his effort was saved by Johns. The right-sided centre half will feel he should have scored.

Linfield then ruthlessly punished the Co. Armagh side, taking the lead three minutes later. Kirk Millar slipped in Chris McKee who was inside the box, running inside the wing-back and left-sided centre half, and he squared the ball in search for Matthew Fitzpatrick. However, the ball was slightly behind his strike partner, and Matthew Clarke stormed onto the ball with a perfectly-timed run, followed by a cool finish at the back post area.

The Blues then scored again to make it 3-1 just four minutes later. Loughgall will reflect upon hesitant defending as their central defenders and goalkeeper were waiting on one another to take charge. Linfield’s Matthew Clarke and Matthew Fitzpatrick both did well to press and force the error which provided Chris McKee the opportunity to hammer in from close range.

Fast forward another few minutes and it was almost 4-1 as Linfield were awarded a penalty. Kirk Millar’s cross from the right was met by Ben Hall, whose header struck the arm of Loughgall’s Jordan Gibson who knew very little about it. Chris Shields stepped up but his spot-kick was saved excellently by Berraat Turker who pushed it onto the post.

The Blues did then add a fourth goal twenty minutes from time, yet again a Kirk Millar cross proving troublesome for the visitors. This time, Darragh McBrien popped up in the middle to turn it in for his second goal of the season, which came just four minutes after he’d came onto the pitch.

Chris McKee rounded off the scoring on 86 minutes as he netted his second of the match and his tenth goal of the season. Jamie Mulgrew found Kirk Millar inside the box with a precise pass and the winger hammered in a cross which was spilled by the goalkeeper and McKee was in the right place at the right time to rifle the ball into the roof of the net from a few yards out.

Full Time: Linfield 5 - 1 Loughgall

Attendance - 2100 Man of the Match: Kirk Millar

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