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Linfield 2 Glenavon 0: Blues just stroll it

CIS Insurance Cup

By Stuart McKinley

A weakened Linfield team? Not a bit of it.

Indeed, is there such a thing?

On the evidence of last night's game the answer is no.

Manager David Jeffrey said he would make changes to his side and he was as true as his word. Eight new faces were on show from the team that beat Portadown 1-0 on Saturday, with only Alan Mannus, Paul McAreavey and Aidan O'Kane staying in the side, but there were still six under-21 internationals among the ten outfield players plus one man with a senior cap in the shape of current Northern Ireland squad member Mannus.

If that doesn't say everything about the strength in depth that the Windsor Park squad possesses then nothing will. The fact that they managed to beat Glenavon's strongest available line up without needing to move out of second gear also shows just how much quality Jeffrey has at his disposal.

The entire back-four from the weekend and strikers Peter Thompson and Glenn Ferguson plus Michael Gault were all rested, with their team already knowing that they would face Lisburn Distillery for a semi-final place in two weeks time.

The Lurgan Blues were still clinging to some hope that they could progress to the quarter-finals of the CIS Insurance Cup, but they needed to win and also required a favour from Ballymena United, with a draw being enough to take Dungannon Swifts into the last eight.

In the end the efforts of Colin Malone's side were in vein on both scores as they went down 2-0 to two second-half goals and the Swifts secured a trip to Glentoran in two weeks time without any problems as well.

Glenavon rarely threatened and when Gerard McMahon had to be substituted on 33 minutes the heartbeat of their team disappeared and any hopes of pulling off a victory with it.

Any rallying of his troops by Malone during the break went out the window almost instantly as Ervin began the move by spraying a pass across the pitch to O'Kane and while the midfielder took the ball on before crossing the full-back made his way into the box to head home at the back post.

And that Linfield squad grew even stronger on the night when Timmy Adamson - the subject of a £10,000 offer from Glenavon back in January - came off the bench for the final 20 minutes to make his first appearance of a season that has so far been dogged by injury after spending most of the previous campaign on the sidelines.

He marked the occasion by securing the victory three minutes from time by controlling Damian Curran's shot and firing the ball into the net himself from 10 yards out.

LINFIELD: Mannus, Ervin, McCann, McAreavey, Lindsay, O'Kane, Mulgrew, Curran, Dickson, Stewart, Burns. Subs: Faulkner, Adamson, McLoughlin, Hogan, Miskimmon.

GLENAVON: Rice, Harper, Meehan, Cowan, McDonnell, Murray, McMahon, C Walsh, Keogh, Kearney, Okunaiya. Subs: Douglas, McAdam, P Walsh, Haveron, Carville.

Referee: Colin Burns (Newtownabbey).

Belfast Telegraph


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