Linfield ace Patterson returns to haunt Coleraine
Coleraine 1 Linfield 3: Rory Patterson was the target of the Coleraine boo-boys during his first return to his former club in Linfield colours.
But the Northern Ireland international striker kept his cool and set up two of the Blues' goals in a comfortable canter that saw the champions stay ahead of challengers Portadown at the top of the table on goal difference.
Patterson was continually booed on the ball and faced more verbal abuse from a small section of fans after the game.
But Patterson's international team mate, keeper Alan Blayney, revealed that the former Plymouth Argyle man has been feeling much more irked at managing only five goals so far this season.
The striker, who topped the local scoring charts when he bagged 41 for Coleraine the season before last and was named Footballer of the Year, joined the Blues in the summer after his career stalled at cash-strapped Plymouth.
Blayney said: “Rory is a little frustrated that he isn't scoring regularly but the boss has been telling him to be patient and keep on working as hard as he is.
“Ultimately goals will flow for him because he is a great player and reads the game so well.”
Blayney, who turned 30 yesterday, admitted that Aaron Burns' fourth goal in as many games provided the platform for victory at the Showgrounds where Linfield have not been beaten since September 2003.
“Aaron has been in terrific form lately and seems to be scoring goals for fun. It was important to find the net in the opening period, especially away from home. It settled us and we were able to build on it.”
Blayney is relishing the intriguing battle with Portadown, who inflicted a rare defeat on the champions at Shamrock Park last month.
“With the Ports clipping at our heels, we knew we could not afford to slip up. Coleraine started the day in third and have been impressive this season. We were certain we would get it tough but we made it much easier on ourselves by taking a stranglehold on the game from the outset.
“Coleraine didn't have enough in the tank to trouble us and once we went two up, it was very difficult for them to come back. Our third goal really killed it off.”
Blayney highlighted the key role played by midfield pairing Michael Gault and Robbie Garrett: “They were simply immense, imposing themselves on everything and Coleraine could not get a hold of the ball.”
Midfielder Burns opened Linfield's account after eight minutes. Michael Carvill skipped past defender Johnny Black, crossed for Patterson to crack a low shot towards the target and Burns got an outstretched foot to divert the ball into the net.
Patterson then set up the second goal for Garrett, who burst into the box and fired a left foot shot past keeper Michael Doherty.
Mark McAllister secured the win for the Blues, racing onto Patterson's pass and steering the ball past Doherty after a mistake in the home defence.
A spectacular strike from Leon Knight was Coleraine's only highlight. The substitute waited for defender David Ogilby's header to drop into his path before turning his back on goal and smashing an overhead kick into the net from three yards out.