Institute 1 Linfield 2
Linfield made it two wins in a week after seeing off Institute at a packed Drumahoe.
Goals from Mark McAllister and a Jim Ervin penalty were enough to secure the points, but in truth they were always in control, apart from the first minute in the second half when they allowed Jason Blackburn to level things.
John Gregg gave James Quigley his first start to the season, while another ex-Glentoran man Shaun Holmes, who came off the bench at Portadown, was also in the starting line-up.
As for Blues, David Jeffrey kept faith with the same starting line-up that had a fantastic 4-1 win over Glenavon.
Prior to the match their was a minute’s silence in memory of Linfield youngster James Elliott, who tragically died last week.
Jeffrey felt his players turned a corner following their weekend win and they certainly started this encounter on the front foot. A Jamie Tomelty cross after just nine minutes caused problems in the ’Stute box, but fortunately for them the ball flashed across the six-yard box.
Soon after, a Robert Garrett corner from the right found Michael Gault, but the midfielder, who out-jumped Thomas Wray, couldn’t keep his header down and the ball flew well over Gavin Cullen’s bar.
But poor defending by Institute allowed the Blues to break the deadlock on the half-hour mark. Another Garrett corner found Mark McAllister whose header from 10 yards, trickled into Cullen’s bottom right hand corner; ’Stute boss John Gregg will be asking question’s why there was no player defending the back post.
A minute later more good play by Michael Carvill set-up McAllister, but the ex-Dungannon Swifts front man shot wide.
The home side went close to levelling things moments later when a quick punt down field by Cullen released Paul Brown, his centre fell to Austin Friel, but winger’s shot took a big deflection off JP Gallagher, before flashing inches wide.
Holmes’ resulting corner caused problems for the visitors and that man Friel went close again — this time his low drive, which had Alan Blayney beaten, was cleared off the line by the alert Gallagher.
Right on the stroke of half-time the Blues went close to doubling their lead when, firstly, McAllister’s close range shot was kept out at full stretch by Cullen and Carvill’s follow-up shot fizzed across the goal, before Graham Crown came to the rescue to clear the danger. The home side made a change at half-time with teenager Crown, who was having a torrid time in the first half, was replaced by Jason Blackburn and the substitute was make a major impact within a minute.
The winger raced onto Brown’s clever through ball and broke the offside trap and just when it looked as though the chance was gone, he calmly side-footed home past an advancing Blayney.
Unfortunately the home side’s celebrations didn’t last too long as the Windsor Park men regained the lead in the 61st minute.
Mark Scoltock, for the second time this season, gave away a penalty, when he bundled Gault to the ground, leaving referee,McCourt, with no option but to point to the spot. Defender Jim Ervin fired home the resulting spot-kick, to make it three goals in as many games for the full-back.
‘Stute boss, Gregg, was then dismissed for foul and abusive language as the night got worse for the home side.
Northern Ireland international, Gault, had a super chance to increase Linfield’s lead in the 76th minute, this time the midfielder’s shot from 20 yards whistled just over Cullen’s cross-bar.
Former Institute man Philip Lowry, who opened his goalscroing account for the Blues at the weekend, should have netted their third a minute later.
The 20-year-old raced onto Paul Munster’s clever back-heel, but with only Cullen to beat he blasted well wide of the target.
Institute: Cullen, Wray, Scoltock, Ogilby, Crown; Friel, Quigley, McClean, Holmes; Brown, Divin. Subs: Blackburn for Crown (Half-time); McCreadie for Friel (80).
Linfield: Blayney, Ervin, Murphy, Douglas, Gallagher; Garrett, Lowry, Gault, Tomelty; McAllister, Carvill. Subs: Munster for Garrett (59); Curran for Carvill (71).
Referee: Adrian McCourt (Bangor).