Doc gifts Blues a Cup treat
Glentoran 1 Linfield 3
Linfield gained the psychological advantage ahead of Saturday's Carnegie Premier League potential title decider with Glentoran by easily disposing of their Big Two rivals in the Setanta Sports Cup last night.
The Blues had to come from behind after Darren Boyce gave the Glens an early lead but in the end they strolled to a 3-1 victory with two goals from Paul McAreavey and another from Mark Dickson.
The big one of course is this weekend - the game that really matters and one that could decide where the Gibson Cup will be resting for the next 12 months.
With that in mind both managers rung the changes.
You could hardly describe it as weakened as it still contained the likes of Peter Thompson, Thomas Stewart, Alan Mannus, Paul McAreavey and Michael Gault.
Meanwhile Alan McDonald gave a first start up front to youngster Peter Steele and at the back, making his debut for the Glens was central defender Andrew Ferguson who made the seldom trodden trip between Windsor Park and the Oval at the turn of the year.
Adding the experience to a fresh faced squad was 38 year-old Mark Glendinning who was in the starting line up for the first time this season after an 18 month injury hell.
Linfield's defence looked lacking in pace and with the speedy Steele and Boyce leading the line it looked as though that would be the Glens big outlet.
As it turned out, it was through a less rapid source that the opening goal was carved out on eight minutes as Dean Fitzgerald, buoyed by his double haul against Crusaders on Saturday, did well on the right and cut the ball back to the onrushing Boyce who slipped it past Mannus from 10 yards.
After that there was a period of Glentoran dominance with direct balls from the back into the path of Steele and Boyce proving to be a thorn in Linfield's side.
And it was from there that the Glens had a real chance to double the advantage on 22 minutes when Steele broke through but just as he was about to pull the trigger, Steven Douglas made a great saving tackle before just doing enough to put off Kyle Neill who had followed up and blasted over.
Linfield began to grow in confidence as the half wore on but they were helped back into the game by a mistake from Glens goalkeeper Dougherty.
Oran Kearney's high cross looked like it would be easily plucked out of the air but under slight pressure from Thompson, Dougherty fumbled and McAreavey was there to prod home from close range.
The visitors went ahead shortly after the break.
Stewart had the initial chance which was blocked, but the defence didn't seem to be in any hurry to clear and McAreavey seized the opportunity to double his tally for the night by burying a wicked right-foot shot into the bottom corner of the goal from 18 yards.
Four minutes later, Linfield were lucky to keep their full quota of players on the pitch as Steele once again showed his great pace to get in ahead of Kris Lindsay who hauled him down as the youngster bore down on goal. The referee, however felt that the Blues had adequate cover and showed Lindsay a yellow card.
But any thoughts of a comeback evaporated on 69 minutes when the Blues went 3-1 in front and again neither the Glens' backline nor the keeper covered themselves in glory.
Dickson picked the ball up on the right and as the defence backed off he let fly with a shot from the edge of the box which crept in at Dougherty's near post.
GLENTORAN: Dougherty, McGovern, Simpson, Ferguson, Glendinning, Berry, Carson, Fitzgerald (Halliday 73), Neill (McMenamin 46), Boyce, Steele (Fordyce 66). Subs: Morris (GK), Leeman, Ward, Halliday, Scullion, McMenamin, Fordyce.
LINFIELD: Mannus, Douglas, Gault (Burns 78), Lindsay, McShane, Dickson, McAreavey, Downey, Kearney (Curran 83), Thompson (Mulgrew 73), Stewart. Subs: McKendry (GK), Murphy, Curran, Burns, O'Kane, Mulgrew, Ervin.
Referee: A Buttimer (Rep of Ireland).