David Healy hails Linfield’ ‘professional performance’

Stevie Fallon was restored to the Linfield team for the BetMcLean League Cup tie against Ballyclare Comrades at Dixon Park – and he responded by bagging a glorious double as David Healy’s boys cruised into the next round.

Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 11:32 pm
Linfield goal scorers Matthew Green and Stephen Fallon. Mandatory Credit INPHO/Stephen Hamilton

New striker Matt Green and William Chadwick also got on the scoring stakes in what was an easy night at the office for Healy troops.

“It was a professional performance,” declared Healy. “It’s usually a tough place to come, but the boys did a good job and were never under any pressure.”

Although Healy’s team totally bossed the first half, they had only Fallon’s screamer to show for their efforts.

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New signing from Larne, Martin Donnelly was handed his first start since arriving at the Blues and he almost made it a dream debut.

He produced a little bit of magic on the edge of the box before blasting his shot over the crossbar.

Comrades were often chasing shadows – literally – as the floodlighting system at the ground left a lot to be desired.

The impressive Kirk Millar carved out another chance on five minutes when his corner kick found the head of Ross Larkin, but goalkeeper Richard Purcell managed to gather at the back post.

Another new summer signing, Green, who bagged his first Linfield goal in the 3-2 League win at Portadown on Saturday, should really have added to his tally on 15 minutes.

Again Donnelly was the architect, floating in an inch-perfect corner kick, but the big striker just failed to touch home.

But the big away support at last had something to cheer on 27 minutes. Fallon picked the ball up in midfield and after taking a touch, he sent a blistering drive into the top corner, well beyond the outstretched glove of Purcell. In fact, Fallon attempted to repeat the effort seconds later from a similar distance, but his shot flew high and wide.

And, it was almost two on 33 minutes when Mattie Clarke’s cross found Green, whose looping header clipped the top of the crossbar.

After soaking up all the first half pressure, the visitors were almost gifted an equaliser in injury time when goalkeeper Chris Johns completely fluffed his lines when attempting to clear, but Comrades’ Joe Tully failed to capitalise.

The Blues really should have been out of sight two minutes after the break. Cammy Palmer’s pin-point pass sent Donnelly free, but he shamefully blasted over the top when it looked easier to score.

But the second goal duly arrived on 50 minutes. The impressive Millar sent the midfielder roaring into the box and his low drive squeezed past Purcell at his near post.

Green finally got the goal he deserved on 61 minutes. Fallon turned provider this time, clipping the ball back from the left channel and the former Grimbsy Town man did the rest with a cool finish.

Substitute Chadwick finished the job four minutes from time when he danced his way into the box before firing low past Purcell.

BALLYCLARE COMRADES: Purcell, McKenna, McDermott, Tully (Mooney 70), Beverland, Mathieson, Fletcher, McCart, Heggarty (Gray 70), Donnelly, Devine (Hassin 58).

Unused subs: Ferguson, Ramsey, Herron, Johnston.

LINFIELD: Johns, Roscie-Byrne, Larkin, Millar (Carroll 67), Hume (Newberry53), Clarke, Fallon (Mulgrew 75), Donnelly, Salam, Palmer (Chadwick 75), Green (Archer 75).

Unused subs: Walsh, Manzinga.

REFEREE: Steven Gregg.