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Patience the key as Linfield defence lead by example in Donegal Celtic win

Linfield 4-0 Donegal Celtic

By Kris Jack

It was a case for the defence at Windsor Park last night as an heroic first-half showing from Donegal Celtic was extinguished by goals from Linfield's backline in the second period as David Healy's men marched into the second round of the County Antrim Shield.

Reece Glendinning and Mark Haughey both found the net before the hour, while the likes of Aaron Burns and New Zealand striker Kris Bright couldn't in a first half full of missed opportunities and poor finishing.

Stephen Lowry and substitute Paul Smyth netted for last year's runners-up late on to bring the scoreline closer to what it should have been.

Burns, so composed and accurate in front of goal so far this season, was the biggest culprit in the first 45 minutes, passing up four opportunities he would usually have buried on any given Saturday.

It wasn't all down to poor finishing though as Stephen Hatland's well-marshalled defence made life difficult for the hosts with a string of brave blocks and well-timed challenges from Maurice Curtis and Ryan Dunlop.

DC defender Matthew McCafferty, meanwhile, just managed to get in the way of the ever advancing Blues on a number of occasions.

It was the Linfield defence, however, who showed their faltering frontline how it was done when Glendinning, having received a cut-back on the edge of the box, boomed the ball into the top left-hand corner on 50 minutes to break the deadlock.

Bright then produced the miss of the night when a defence-splitting pass was cut back to him by Lowry.

With the goal agape in front of him, he somehow put his effort wide from six yards out.

Haughey spared his blushes on 58 minutes though, turning home from eight yards after Bright's knockdown from Niall Quinn's left-sided free-kick to extend former Northern Ireland star Healy's side's lead.

Sean McIlhone in the Donegal Celtic goal played his part in keeping the score down, producing a great one-handed save to deny Ryan Strain a goal after the Linfield substitute's deft first touch in the six-yard area.

But a quick-fire double put an exclamation point on the game as Lowry and sub Smyth both conjured up cool finishes inside the box with 10 minutes remaining.

Linfield: Deane, Quinn, Stewart, Glendinning, Haughey, Fallon, Lowry, Bright, (Strain 70), Burns, Ward (Houston 79), Frazer (Smyth 60).

Subs not used: Gaynor, Millar.

DONEGAL CELTIC: McIlhone, Conway, McCafferty, Dunlop, Curtis, Rossborough, Conlon, Derry, Hughes, Feher (Brown 85), Kopyt.

Subs not used: Monaghan, McVarnock, Dugan, McAuley.

Referee: Mervyn Smyth (Holywood)

Match rating: 6/10

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