LINFIELD SWIFTS 3 DUNDELA 1
Linfield Swifts won their first Steel & Sons Cup final in 19 years thanks to an impressive Christmas Eve win over Dundela at Seaview.
In 1997, the young Blues required extra-time and a golden goal to defeat Dundela, but life was much easier for the class of 2016, who recorded a comfortable 3-1 win, with goals from Reece Glendinning, Cameron Stewart and Adam McCallum.
It’s the ninth time Linfield Swifts have lifted the famous trophy, with their first success coming in 1895. Alan Dornan’s young charges are the first reserve side to officially win the competition since Glentoran Seconds in 2001.
The opening 25 minutes of the Toals sponsored festive final was evenly contested, with the wind making life difficult for both sides.
Linfield Swifts upped their game as the half wore on, creating the first genuine chance of the match in the 28th minute. Centre-forward Cameron Stewart powered past Dundela’s Jordan Morrison, despite the defender tugging on his shirt, before firing a shot towards goal, that was pushed away by the alert Jonathan Sergeant.
The Swifts opened the scoring in the 34th minute when talented left-back Eamon Scannell sent a free-kick towards the back post. The Duns defence failed to clear the ball, allowing right-back Reece Glendinning to ghost in at the back post and steer the ball home from six-yards. It was a goal his father Mark would have been proud of.
A minute later, it was 2-0. Jonny Frazer whipped a low right-wing cross along the front of goal, that was met by Stewart. Goalkeeper Sergeant saved Stewart’s first effort, but the former Crusaders man made no mistake with the rebound, poking the ball home from inside the six-yard box.
It was almost 3-0 in the 37th minute. Scannell struck a stunning 25-yard free-kick that clipped the crossbar.
Dundela manager David Murphy made a double substitution at half-time, introducing James Sofley and Jamie Jackson. The move injected some life into the Duns, with a Mark McCelland hitting the crossbar in the 50th minute, with a looping header.
The Duns pulled a goal back in the 52nd minute. Sub Jackson’s over-hit inswinging cross missed everybody, curling past goalkeeper Alex Moore and into the Linfield net.
The Swifts weathered the Dundela storm, once again gaining control of the match. The finished the game as a contest in the 71st minute when Scannell’s in-swinging corner-kick was headed home by defender Adam McCallum, despite the Dundela defence’s best efforts to clear the ball off the line.
Although east Belfast side Dundela worked hard, Linfield Swifts were well worth their first Steel & Sons Cup success since Christmast Day 1997.
Dundela: Sergeant, Roy, Brown, Irwin, Morrison, Healy, Collins (HT Jackson), Ferguson, Burrows, McCelland, Lenaghan (HT Sofley)
Subs Not Used: Kerr, Manley, Thompson
Linfield Swifts: Moore, Glendinning, Scannell, McCallum (90 Mitchell), Stewart, Houston (71 Moore), Frazer, Taggart, Strain (68 Brown) , Neale, Fallon
Subs Not Used: McComb, Murray
Ref: Stuart McFarland