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Toals Bookmakers County Antrim Shield semi-final

Linfield 6 Ards 1

There was a disastrous end to our County Antrim Shield hopes on Tuesday night as Linfield hit four first half goals on their way to a 6-1 victory.

Just as they had done in September’s league encounter, a series of early attacks from the Blues saw them cut through our defence almost at will during 21 painful minutes that ended with Kirk Millar making it 4-0 with a little over half an hour on the clock.

The game’s opening goal came on 11 minutes when Linfield were awarded a free kick wide out on the left. No Ards player picked up the run of Chris Casement, who took possession of the ball just outside the area before sweeping it into the path of Andrew Waterworth to side foot home.

If that was simple football then Linfield’s second on 16 minutes was about as basic as it gets. A misplaced pass deep in the Ards half gifted the ball to Jamie Mulgrew and his long pass forward sent Waterworth racing through, with the ex-Ards man striking the ball early to beat Aaron Hogg for the second time in five minutes.

As Linfield’s dominance of the match continued they made it 3-0 in the 18th minute. A cross whipped in from the left by Niall Quinn found Paul Smyth in the area and although Michael Ruddy blocked his initial shot, the forward quickly recovered to finish as the second attempt.

In a rare opening at the other end, a cross from Greg Hall saw Ross Arthurs put a glancing header safely into the arms of Gareth Deane, before Hogg pulled off a decent stop from a close range Waterworth header. Linfield would be at it again though with 32 minutes gone when a pass from within the box by Smyth found Kirk Millar and he chipped a delightful right foot effort just inside the far upright.

Having made a number of changes to his starting line-up, Niall Currie restored regulars David McCullough and Joe McKinney to the side for the start of the second half and a vast improvement did seem evident. McKinney put an early effort into the side netting and then on 58 minutes his run into the box was illegally stopped by Mark Haughey, earning us a penalty kick. Michael Ruddy was the man on the spot, firing into the top corner to reduce the deficit to 4-1.

The 64th minute saw a low drive from Kyle Cherry pushed away for a corner by keeper Deane and then on ‘74 a break out of defence from Fra Brennan saw him pick out McKinney wide right but from his cross the shot from Guillaume Keke was disappointingly hit well over the bar.

A Linfield corner on 79 minutes picked out Haughey at the back post only for him to be denied by a smart stop from Hogg, at the expense of another corner. From the resulting Millar kick, Haughey got his rewards this time, powering in a near post header.

Linfield’s sixth goal summed up Ards’ night as we were caught napping on a quickly taken throw-in allowing Smyth to race into the area and draw out Hogg before rolling the ball into an unguarded net.

29th November 2016


18 Aaron Hogg (GK), 2 Greg Hall, 4 Stuart McMullan, 25 Emmet Friars (capt.), 38 Fra Brennan, 3 Michael Ruddy, 20 Kyle Cherry, 16 Gareth Tommons, 8 Ross Arthurs, 17 Carl McComb, 19 Guillaume Keke


6 David McCullough (for Arthurs h/t), 9 Gary Liggett (for Tommons 70), 10 Joe McKinney (for McComb h/t), 21 Callum Byers, 22 Jamie Rea


Keith Kennedy


Ruddy (58 pen)


Brennan (34), Liggett (70)


Match highlights (Linfield TV)

Ards and Linfield players pay respects to those Chapecoense players who perished in Tuesday morning’s plane
Picture: Gareth McCluskey
Carl McComb in action against Linfield
Picture: Gareth McCluskey