Belfast Telegraph

Linfield off the bottom after win against Warrenpoint Town

By Gareth McCullough

Warrenpoint 0 Linfield 2: Linfield finally recorded their first league win of the season last night and the three points were enough to move them off the bottom of the Premiership table.

Goals from Michael Carvill and Niall Quinn gave the Blues victory over Warrenpoint Town at Stangmore Park to ease the pressure on manager David Jeffrey.

It could, however, have been a very different story with Warrenpoint creating the better chances during the first half before being undone by Linfield after the break.

In a tepid opening it took until the 10th minute for the first chance to arrive when Mark Hughes knocked a header down for Timmy Grant to slice a half volley with the outside of his right boot wide of the post with Linfield goalkeeper Johnny Tuffey failing to move.

Linfield nearly got in for their first chance a minute later when James Knowles slid the ball in from the right to Michael Carvill only for Liam Bagnall to get across and make a well-timed block.

Then on 14 minutes Knowles' free-kick from 25 yards out on the left saw both Michael Gault and debutant Rodney Brown nip in only for the latter to stab the ball wide – although the flag had gone up for offside.

It was Warrenpoint who were making most of the running and three times in the space of eight minutes they nearly exposed the Linfield backline.

Firstly, Billy Joe Burns had to be alert to clear the ball from Bagnall as he made progress in the area before Sean Ward was alert to head clear Stephen Moan's cross with Stephen Hughes lurking.

Hughes then just missed out on connecting with Bagnall's cross on 29 minutes.

While those opportunities could go down in the half-chance category, the game then exploded to life with three efforts on goal in the space on four minutes.

Stephen Hughes released Ruairi Devlin down the right and the speedy winger cut in only to drag his shot harmlessly wide on 34 minutes before Warrenpoint's best chance of the match arrived less than 60 seconds later.

Mark Hughes whipped in a free-kick from the left and when Tuffey couldn't hold it, Timmy Grant nipped in only to drive the ball over the crossbar from 15 yards.

Jeffrey's men should have taken the lead eight minutes before the break when Knowles' tackle midway inside the Warrenpoint half set Mark McAllister racing free one-on-one with Jonny Parr, but the Warrenpoint stopper produced a fine stop with an outstretched hand to deny the Linfield striker.

It was a completely different Blues side that came out for the second half and they took the lead just a minute after the re-start, with Warrenpoint pegged back into their own half.

Brown whipped the ball in from the left and when neither John Boyle or Jonny Cowan could clear, it fell to Knowles 18 yards out. His shot wasn't held by Parr and Carvill was on hand to convert the rebound and make it 1-0.

Warrenpoint did have a chance to draw level within eight minutes of going behind when the lively Stephen Hughes cut in from the left and forced another spillage from Tuffey before the ball was cleared.

However, it was Linfield who were denied a second goal two minutes before the hour when Carvill's dangerous cross from the right evaded everyone before Moan made a superb clearance ahead of the inrushing Brown at the back post.

The Hughes brothers, Stephen and Daniel, then both had shots on goal, but Tuffey was more than equal to them as the match moved past the hour mark.

Linfield then sealed the win when Niall Quinn stepped up to beautifully curl in a low free kick from 25 yards past the Warrenpoint wall that beat Parr and just crept in off the inside of the right post.

Warrenpoint Town: J Parr, Moan, M Hughes, Boyle, Cowan, Devlin, Grant (McCabe 63 mins), S Parr, Bagnall, D Hughes (Graham 70 mins). Subs not used: King, Smith, Johnston

Linfield: Tuffey, BJ Burns, Quinn, Brown (McCaul 67 mins), Ward, Carvill, Gault, Knowles, Mulgrew (Clarke 90 mins), Tipton, McAllister (Thompson 78 mins). Subs not used: Glendinning, Ervin.

Referee: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown).

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