Blues gather momentum

By Colin Millar

Linfield continued their winning streak with a narrow but deserved victory over Roy Walker’s Ballymena United side.

Philip Lowry’s early strike separated the sides and, coupled with Portadown’s defeat at the hands of Crusaders, it means that David Jeffrey’s side now lead the table by four points.

The Blues started like a house on fire and took the lead through Lowry on ten minutes.

The midfielder dispossessed Ballymena’s Chris Rodgers before firing through Wayne Drummond.

It was exactly the same starting eleven that won so convincingly at both Donegal Celtic and Carrick Rangers, and confidence was clearly high amongst the players.

However, the visitors should have equalised only a minute later with what turned out to be their best chance of the match.

Teggart’s cross from the left found the head of Jenkins – at full stretch – who forced a superb save from Alan Blayney to deny his former club.

For the remainder of the first half it was all one-way traffic. Carvill put the ball in the net but he was adjudged to have controlled it with his hand.

A minute later William Murphy smashed the crossbar with a powerful effort. Lowry could have doubled his tally but his header from close range went straight at Drummond. Carvill came within inches of converting McAllister’s cross but he just couldn’t stretch far enough.

With nine minutes to go until the break, McAllister was culpable of arguably the worst miss of the season to date.

Carvill’s low, teasing cross evaded the Braidmen’s defence and took goalkeeper Drummond out of the equation. McAllister was the recipient of the ball, no more than a few yards out but he somehow tapped the ball wide when it looked easier to score.

Chris Rodgers had a great chance to make amends for his earlier error minutes into the second half. He had a free header inside the box but he could only guide it weakly onto the post and the ball was easily cleared.

McAllister then went on to miss another glorious chance.

He was played in behind the Sky Blues defence but he took two heavy touches and the chance was gone.

Michael Carvill went close twice near the end but the game fizzled out as Ballymena failed to threaten.

It was the third time the Blues have overcome the mid-Antrim side this season, having already beaten them 2-1 in the league and 1-0 in the County Antrim Shield.

In their winning run, Linfield have scored eleven goals and have only conceded once.

 

Sad note

The column this week ends on a sad note due to the death of Harry Smyth, a former Linfield and Derry City half-back during the 1950s. Our heartfelt condolences go to his family and friends.

 

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