Belfast Telegraph

Gault spot on for Linfield

By Graham Luney

Glentoran 0 Linfield 0: They won't be rushing out a DVD of this battle for Christmas shoppers but any Big Two victory is to be cherished and Linfield will be in this evening's draw for the League Cup quarter-finals.

It was a game devoid of attacking flair and penalty kicks were needed to determine a winner at the Oval.

After a scoreless 90 minutes of action and then 30 minutes of extra-time, it was the Blues who held their nerve in the shoot-out.

Skipper Michael Gault buried the winning penalty after John McGuigan and Jordan Hughes had blazed their spot-kicks over the crossbar.

Former Glens hero Andy Waterworth missed the first spot-kick to the joy of the home fans but Matthew Tipton, Brian McCaul and Billy Joe Burns also did their job.

Glentoran were rocked by the dismissal of Mark Clarke in the 57th minute, with the midfielder picking up a second booking following an ugly bust-up on the sidelines involving officials and players from both clubs.

But neither side asserted their authority during open play in the game.

The Blues failed to make their numerical advantage count as the Glens showed superb battling qualities but it was the home side who were left feeling distraught.

Former Glens heroes Waterworth and Sean Ward made their first appearance at the Oval since their summer switches to Linfield and they got a predictably hot reception from the home faithful.

The Glens have endured a stop-start campaign since losing big names in the close season but it was always going to be difficult to produce consistent performances.

A victory over Linfield in a knockout competition would have been a pretty feather in their cap but their cause became even more daunting when Clarke was sent off.

The players dug deep and fought to the end but their luck deserted them just when it seemed an heroic effort would see them through.

Waterworth showed his electric pace in the second minute, sprinting towards goal but he dragged his low shot just wide of the post.

Glentoran then failed to deal with a Michael Carvill corner and Kyle McVey directed a header over the crossbar.

In an entertaining opening, the Glens also went in search of the opener and keeper Jonny Tuffey did well to turn a fierce drive from Richard Clarke around the upright.

The visitors started to ask questions of the Glentoran rearguard but their attacks fizzled out in the final third.

There were feisty challenges but the first half was offering little excitement until Tuffey had to dig out Richard Clarke's cross from underneath his crossbar.

Jeffrey was then forced to shuffle his pack when Peter Thompson limped off and was replaced by Matthew Tipton.

After the break, Tuffey's attempted clearance struck the back of Richard Clarke but the ball rebounded back for a goal-kick.

Mark Clarke picked up the first booking of the game for a heavy challenge on Jamie Mulgrew and he was soon walking off the pitch after being shown a second yellow card.

Tempers hit boiling point when, as referee Raymond Hetherington was booking Elliott Morris for taking too long over a goal-kick, a shoving match started in front of the dug-outs.

Most of the players sprinted over to join in the melee and after consulting with the fourth official, Hetherington booked Gault and showed a second yellow card to Clarke.

David Scullion replaced O'Hanlon and was presented with a good chance in the 76th minute but his shot hit Ward.

Scullion only lasted 17 minutes before injury forced him back of the sidelines with Jordan Hughes entering the fray.

The Glens defence absorbed pressure in the final minutes of normal time and substitute Aaron Burns poked wide.

Linfield started extra-time without McVey but the former Coleraine defender soon returned to the action with a bandage on his head wound.

The Blues had a late scare when Ward's clearance struck Marcus Kane and the ball dropped just in front of the goal before drifting wide but no-one was surprised when penalty kicks were needed.

Waterworth's effort struck the post and went wide but Jimmy Callacher buried his penalty. Tipton converted for the Blues and Johnny Addis also did his job. Brian McCaul scored his penalty, but John McGuigan's strike sailed over.

Billy Joe Burns slotted his home but Jordan Hughes also fired over. Gault then stepped up and hammered in the decisive penalty to kick-off the Linfield celebrations.

GLENTORAN: Morris, O'Neill, Hill, Addis, Birney, Clarke, Callacher, McAlorum, Clarke (McGuigan 92 mins), Kane, O'Hanlon (Scullion 68 mins; Hughes for Scullion 85 mins). Subs (not used): Bradley, Henderson.

LINFIELD: Tuffey, McVey, Gault, Waterworth, Lowry (McCaul 68 mins), Thompson (Tipton 43 mins), Carvill (A Burns 88 mins), BJ Burns, Ward, Mulgrew, Quinn. Subs (not used): Knowles, Ervin.

Referee: R Hetherington (Dungannon).

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