Linfield class too much as Carrick's rearguard cracks
Three second half goals turned Linfield's superiority into three more points as they maintained their early lead in the Danske Bank Premiership with victory over Carrick Rangers at Taylor's Avenue.
The newcomers fought hard but ran out of steam and goals in the last 25 minutes from Stephen Lowry, Aaron Burns and Kirk Millar made it seven in two games for last year's runners-up who have started the new term in confident fashion.
Linfield were expected to boss proceedings and for the vast majority of the match that is exactly how it turned out.
Rangers did not create one chance from open play while their back five were constantly under pressure.
Long-throws by Aaron Burns were the more direct route to goal for the Blues but invariably Carrick's back four rose highest to clear the danger, until the very last minute of the first half when Hegarty headed goalwards but found only the outside of the post.
The only threat to the visitors' goal was a Miguel Chines free kick, easily gathered by an almost redundant Ross Glendinning while Ryan Kane, an early substitute for Mark Surgenor who had been booked after just 10 minutes, wasted another free kick from a dangerous position.
Carrick enjoyed their best spell of possession at the start of the second half but they never threatened the Blues' goal, with Kane, continuing to take the free kicks but not able to find a team-mate.
In contrast, with Linfield first two attacks, Mark Haughey glanced a header just wide and Neeson did well to make a clean catch from Sean Ward.
Guy Bates missed the best chance of the night on 62 minutes when, unmarked 10 yards out, he powered a header goalwards but straight at Neeson.
The inevitable goal, however, finally arrived in the 65th minute from a corner, conceded by a superb defensive header from Daniel Kelly. His reward was short-lived as Kirk Millar's kick was met at point-blank range by Lowry whose thunderous header crashed in off the underside of the bar.
And one brought two within 65 seconds as a low cross from the right was met at the back post by Aaron Burns who ran the ball into the net for his third goal in the first two games.
With a comfortable advantage there was the first slight loss of concentration by the Linfield defence in the next minute as Chines broke into the penalty area but, rather than shoot first time, he chose to round the keeper and he failed, as Glendinning took the ball off his feet.
Carrick replaced both their strikers with 15 minutes to go but before either Gary Browne or Mark Miskimmin, both former Linfield players signed from Coleraine in the summer, could touch the ball, their team were three behind, Millar driving home a left wing cross from 12 yards.
Carrick Rangers: Neeson; Smyth, Doyle, Kelly, Traynor; Harmon, McNeill; Surgenor (Kane 19 mins), McCloskey; Chines (Miskimmin 75 mins), Roy (Browne 75 mins)
Linfield: Glendinning; Ward, Haughey, Hegarty (Quinn 71 mins), Clarke; Millar, Mulgrew (Kee 75 mins), Lowry, Burns; Waterworth, Bates (Salley 81 mins)
Match rating: 7/10
Man of the match: Guy Bates
Referee: Evan Boyce