Ballymena United 0 Linfield 1
Linfield booked their place in the last four of the County Antrim Shield with a slender win at Ballymena Showgrounds last night.
Defender Billy Joe Burns produced the only goal of the night when he pounced on Dwayne Nelson’s error on 56 minutes in what was a tight affair.
David Jeffrey’s side, who lost out in last year’s decider, made wholesale changes from Saturday’s 2-1 league win at the same venue.
Indeed, on-loan Rory Patterson was the only player to keep his place in the starting line-up from the weekend encounter.
It was a low key first half with the first chance arriving on 18 minutes for Linfield midfielder Philip Lowry.
Burns found space down the right flank with his cross taking a deflection off Richard Vauls before dropping to Lowry, whose looping header then crashed off the top of the bar with Nelson beaten.
Six minutes before the break there was a tussle for possession between Patterson and Archie Stewart inside the box with one looking for a penalty and the other a free-kick.
Referee Colin Burns gave neither and Lowry collected the free ball, only to shoot narrowly wide.
Five minutes into the second half Peter Thomspon showed great control to bring the ball down and turn before firing his attempt across Nelson and inches wide of the far post.
The winning goal arrived 11 minutes into the second period when Burns was in the right place at the right time to net.
Patterson’s speculative free-kick from 30 yards was only palmed out by Nelson and Burns was on hand to sweep the ball home from close range past the grounded and helpless goalkeeper.
Nelson came to his side’s rescue two minutes later however, saving Patterson’s low effort with his feet after the ex-Coleraine player had found room inside the box.
Substitute Neil Dougan then showed a clean pair of heels down the left flank before delivering a teasing cross which Patterson diverted on to the post.
There was a late flurry from the home side who had the ball in the net in stoppage time but Gary McCutcheon’s close range effort was ruled out for offside after Addis had turned Teggart’s low drive on to the post as United pressed for the equaliser.
Ballymena United: Nelson, Kane, Vauls, Stewart, Taggart, McCutcheon, Teggart, Surgenor, Munster (Gage 85 mins), Costello (Murray 77 mins), Smith. Unused Subs: Downey, Woods, Kerr.
Linfield: Addis, Douglas, BJ Burns, Hanley (McCaul 65 mins), Murphy, Lowry, A Burns, Fordyce, Casement, Patterson, Thompson (Dougan 70 mins). Unused Subs: Blayney, Curran, Garrett.
Referee: Colin Burns.