Linfield hold their nerve from the spot to seal Shield glory

Celebration as Linfield win the County Antrim Shield after a 4-1 penalty shoot-out victory over Crusaders
Celebration as Linfield win the County Antrim Shield after a 4-1 penalty shoot-out victory over Crusaders


(aet, Linfield win 4-1 on penalties)

Linfield lifted the County Antrim Shield on Tuesday night with a penalty shootout victory over Crusaders.

Jonny Tuffey was the hero for the Blues, saving spot-kicks from Nathan Hanley and Eamon McAllister paving the way for Billy Joe Burns to fire home the winning penalty at the Ballymena Showgrounds.

It was a first cup success in 22 months for Linfield, and saw outgoing manager David Jeffrey draw level with Roy Coyle’s club record of 31 trophies.

The penalty drama came following a scoreless 110 minutes of action.

Crusaders almost took the lead in the fourth minute, but Josh Robinson’s header was cleared off the line by Ivan Sproule.

In the 10th minute Nathan Hanley picked out Jordan Owens from another corner, but Jonny Tuffey dived to his left to pal the effort to safety.

At the other end Jamie Mulgrew teed up Philip Lowry in the 34th minute, but the midfielder’s shot went straight to O’Neill.

Linfield had chances to break the deadlock in the second half, but Matt Tipton and Billy Joe Burns were off target with strikes.

Aaron Burns headed inches wide in the 80th minute, while Mark McAllister was denied a potential match-winner two minutes from time when his shot was blocked by teammate Waterworth.

Extra time failed to provide any goals, but Aaron Burns and Matthew King went close with efforts at either end.

Chris Morrow also had a shot well saved by Tuffey.

In the penalties Waterworth dispatched his spot-kick before Gary McCutcheon made it 1-1 with another successful attempt.

Aaron Burns made it 2-1 Linfield before Tuffey saved from Hanley.

Michael Carvill squeezed home his penalty and then Tuffey pulled off another superb save, this time from Eamon McAllister.

And up stepped Billy Joe Burns to dispatch the winning spot-kick.

CRUSADERS: O’Neill, King, Smith (McCutcheon 109), Leeman, Magowan, Owens (Morrow 75), Heatley, Snoddy, Caddell (E. McAllister 101), Hanley, Robinson.

Subs not used: McMaster, D. McAllister.

LINFIELD: Tuffey, Gault, Haughey, Waterworth, Lowry, BJ Burns, Ward, Tipton (McAllister 77), Mulgrew (Carvill 107), Sproule (A. Burns 31), Quinn.

Subs not used: McVey, Deane.

Referee: Hugh Carvill (Belfast)