IRISH LEAGUE: Linfield keep pressure on leaders Crusaders after beating Ballymena United

Linfield's Jimmy Callacher celebnitedrates after scoring against Ballymena U
Linfield's Jimmy Callacher celebnitedrates after scoring against Ballymena U

Ballymena United 0 Linfield 2

Linfield did what they had to do at the Ballymena Showgrounds as goals from Jimmy Callacher and Andy Waterworth sealed three vital league points for David Healy's side.

This result and Crusaders 3-2 win against Clitfronville means the Blues stay one point behind leaders Crusaders.

Callacher opened the Blues account in the first half before Waterworth ended the Sky Blues resistance two minutes from the end.

The Blues started brightly and took the lead in the 12th minute - but in controversial circumstances as United were enraged that Linfield had been awarded a free-kick for an alleged foul on Paul Smyth.

The free-kick came in from Niall Quinn and Jimmy Callacher added the finish much to the anger of United boss David Jeffrey and the home support.

In the swirling conditions and bumpy pitch, both sides failed to make much of an impression in the next 20 minutes with neither side having a clear cut opportunity.

Linfield's Jamie Mulgrew ad an effort in the 36th minute. The midfielders shot however flew high and wide.

United had a chance in the 41st minute. Fra McCaffrey made a strong run before finding Johnny McMurray but his shot was well off target.

Stephen Lowry had a great chance in the 44th minute. He ghosted into the United box but pushed his effort over the bar.

David Healy's side started the second half brightly and could have made it 2-0 in the 51st minute. A ball from the left was headed towards goal by Smyth but Tim Allen made a great save to push it around the post.

Smyth had another chance six minutes later. His shot left Allen stranded but drifted wide of the United goal.

Twelve minutes from the end Allen did well to save a Niall Quinn free-kick. It was a good stop from the big keeper.

In the 82nd minute Linfield's Andy Waterworth tried his luck from range but Allen was up to the task..

Linfield's second and the three points were secured in the 88th minute. An awful United throw-in resulted in Waterworth running through on goal and he made no mistake.

Ballymena United: Allen, Owens, Flynn, Ervin, Milar (Lowery 75mins), McKinney, McMurray, McCaffrey (McCloskey 80mins), Kee, Loughran (Henderson,83mins).

Subs not used: McCauley, Gage.

Linfield: Carroll, Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth, Lowry, Burns, Clarke, Casement, Mulgrew, Quinn, Smyth.

Subs not used: Millar, Ward, Carson, Gaynor, Strain.

Referee: Arnold Hunter.