LINFIELD 1 BALLINAMALLARD UNITED 1
Micky McCrudden salvaged a surprise point for Ballinamallard United in this Windsor Park thriller.
Whitey Anderson’s boys fell behind to an Andy Waterworth goal just before half time, but things got even worse when midfielder Shane McCabe was dismissed after picking up his second yellow card.
However, United roared back in the second half with McCrudden plundering an unexpected point.
Not surprisingly, Linfield manager David Healy named the same team that won at home to Coleraine last week -- their first win in five starts.
United chief Whitey Anderson made four changes to the team that crashed to Glentoran, drafting in Goalkeeper Alvin Rouse, who was free from suspension, David Elliott, John Currie and Liam Martin.
It was United who asked the early questions with Martin cross for Jason McCartney, but he shamefully headed over the crossbar.
Then, at the other end, Rouse established himself by pulling off a great save to deny an Aaron Burns header.
Little Paul Smyth then created a great chance for Guy Bates, but he completely missed his header with the goal at his mercy.
But United also had their moments and they almost made the breakthrough on 30 inutes when Michael McCrudden curled a 20 yard free kick inches past.
The Blues put the foot on the gas as half-time approached and Waterworth shot them in front on 41 minutes, superbly lofting the ball into the empty following a defence splitting pass from Bates.
Aaron Burns then missed a sitter when he was cleverly sent free inside the box by Michael Clarke, but instead of finding the net, he fired wide.
And, just seconds later, Rouse pulled off an astonishing save to deny Waterworth folllowing another great cross from Bates.
Things got words for the visitors when Shane McCabe pikced up his second yellow card of the game, after a late challenge on Jamie Mulgrew.
Anderson’s half-time team talk worked a treat because his team were level on 56 minutes. David Elliott’s free kick broke kindly for McCrudden on the edge of the box and his drive fizzed into the top corner.
Linfield tried desperately to break down their opponents, but when Jimmy Callacher and Mark Stafford both looked on as their headers flashed wide, the Blues knew it wasn’t going to be their day.
Linfield: Ross Glendinning, Staffford, Callacher, Waterworth, Bates, Burns (Millar 63), Clarke, Kee (Murray 73), Mulgrew, Reece Glendinning (Quinn 77), Smyth.
Subs not used: Deane, Haughey.
Ballinamallard United: Rouse, McMenamin, McCartney (McKenna 46), McLaughlin, Martin, McCabe, Currie (Campbell 76), Elliott, Friars, Lafferty, McCrudden (Courtney 88).
Subs not used: Feeney, Crilly.
Referee: E Boyce (Ballygowan)