INSTITUTE 0 LINFIELD 1
It took 41 minutes for Linfield to break the deadlock at the Riverside Stadium having owned the ball throughout the first half.
That goal, a powerful header from Aaron Burns, his 17th strike of the season, followed a Ross Clarke corner, the “Blues” finally rewarded for their first half domination in Drumahoe.
However, try as they did for the duration of the game, Warren Feeney’s men finished the match nervously having failed to kill the game off after the break.
From the outset, Institute had been forced onto the backfoot but despite all Linfield’s possession, they failed to breach Marty Gallagher’s net.
Indeed, the ‘Stute custodian did well to save a Burn’s snapshot after just seven minutes while Jamie Mulgrew dragged an effort wide in the 23rd minute before Gallagher denied the midfielder in the 37th minute.
After the break, Sammy Morrow went close to doubling Linfield’s lead but this shot on the turn was deflected over the crossbar by Dean Curry.
Institute’s first shot on target centred on a free-kick in the 56th minute, Robbie Hume’s low effort easily gathered by keeper, Jonathan Tuffey.
Minutes later Jordan Armstrong was put through but the ball appeared to take a terrible bobble and the chance was lost.
Morrow went close again in the 64th minute after Stephen Lowry has set him up, Institute keeper, Gallagher, producing a top drawer stop.
Andy Waterworth sent a shot agonisingly wide of the upright as Linfield attempted to kill the game off in the 76th minute.
And the same player went close again in the 90th minute, Waterworth’s shot skimming the butt of the upright.
Institute - Gallagher; Crown, McLaughlin, Scoltock (O’Donnell, h/t), D. Curry (McKeever, 70); Armstrong (Burke, 65), Forker, Walsh, McManus; McCrudden, Hume.
Linfield - Tuffy; Belezika (Quinn, 70), Ward, Callacher, M. Clarke; R. Clarke, Lowry, Mulgrew, Burns; Morrow (Brown, 83), Waterworth.
Referee - Mr. M. Smyth (Dundonald)