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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
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