Linfield made short work of Ards at Windsor Park in one of the most one-sided semi-finals you’re ever likely to see.
David Healy’s men booked their place in the final of the Toals Bookmakers County Antrim Shield with a 6-1 win and a fine display of passing football that a lacklustre Ards simply couldn’t cope with.
Andy Waterworth opened the scoring against his old club in the 11th minute. Ards forward Carl McComb was caught on his heels, allowing Linfield to take a quick free-kick that was pushed into the path of Chris Casement. The right-back cut the ball across goal, where Waterworth was only too happy to steer the ball beyond Aaron Hogg from less than 10 yards.
It was 2-0 in the 16th minute with Waterworth on the mark again. The Ards defence was sliced open with a through ball, which allowed the Crossgar man to use his pace to run into space. Waterworth kept his cool to slot the ball past Hogg with ease.
It was 3-0 two minutes later. Niall Quinn found himself in ample space in the left-flank, crossing the ball into the area. The ball bounced around inside the six-yard box before Paul Smyth pounced, finding the net from close range.
Just when Ards thought they had stopped the rot, they conceded another soft goal in the 32nd minute with Kirk Millar finding the net. He dinked the ball over Hogg and an Ards defender, with the ball dropping just inside the far post.
Through the gloom, Ards managed to pull a goal back 11 minutes into the new half when substitute Joe McKinney was clipped inside the penalty. Michael Ruddy stepped up to the spot and slotted the ball past Gareth Deane, to end Ards’ run of 327 minutes without a goal.
At the other end, Aaron Hogg thought he had kept the score down when he made a superb save from Mark Haughey.
However, from the resulting 79th minute Stephen Lowry corner Haughey sent a powerful header high into Hogg’s net.
It was 6-1 in the 86th minute. The lively Paul Smyth cut in from the flank to round Hogg, before stroking the ball into the unguarded net.
LINFIELD: Deane; Casement, Haughey, Callacher, Quinn; Lowry, Ward (65 Gaynor), Mulgrew, Millar (80 Carson); Smyth, Waterworth (80 Frazer)
Subs Not Used: Fallon, Glendinning
ARDS: Hogg; Hall, McMullan, Brennan, Friars, Ruddy; Tommons (69 Liggett), Cherry, Arthurs (HT McCullough); McComb (HT McKinney), Keke
Subs Not Used: Byers, Rea
Ref: Keith Kennedy