Vintage Ferguson serves up a treat for Linfield
Good wine matures well — that certainly seems to be the case for two of the Irish League's veteran performers as Noel Bailie and Glenn Ferguson (combined age 76) demonstrated on Saturday at Clandeboye Park when they conjured up as fine a goal as you will see on any stage.
Linfield's third goal in their 5-0 victory over Bangor was a real vintage effort.
From a long throw out by keeper Alan Mannus, Bailie ran forward before hitting a chipped pass to the edge of the Bangor area. Ferguson let the ball fall over his shoulder before hitting his lobbed shot left-footed over the Bangor keeper to dip under the crossbar.
That was in the 78th minute and, as manager David Jeffrey said: "It was a great goal, fit to grace any match, and effectively killed off the contest.
"We are a team in transition at the moment, and we are bringing through a lot of young players as I am effectively looking to build my fourth team at Windsor Park.
"We are looking to players such as Robert Garrett, Mattie Doherty, Johnny Harkness, and Jamie Mulgrew to take up the mantle, and they have superb role models in players such as Glenn Ferguson and Noel Bailie, but Glenn and Noel won't go on for ever and we must build for the future."
It was one of those young talents, 22-year-old Jamie Mulgrew, who scored Linfield's second goal on 27 minutes after a superb nod-on from Ferguson placed the ball in front of him so that he did not have to alter his stride as he ran in to smash home from six yards out.
Mark Miskimmon had begun the move with a clever lofted pass out left to Ferguson just inside the Bangor box, but it was the veteran's delicate touch which made the goal.
Bangor manager Marty Quinn, who with typical candour blamed himself as much as his players for the 5-0 defeat — the second successive such scoreline in Bangor's two home Premiership matches to date.
"I tried to fit some round pegs into square holes,” he said. “The players made mistakes, but the buck stops with the manager and I accept my share of the blame."
Mind you, the manager also acknowledged that Bangor didn't get the rub of the green, and it was a piece of bad luck which gave Linfield their opening goal on 16 minutes.
A lofted free kick into the box from the right saw Bangor players David Irvine and Mark Gracey both jump for the ball alongside William Murphy, but it was off a Bangor head that the ball flew past teenage keeper Andrew Plummer from seven yards.
Bangor never let their heads drop, and came back after the re-start with a couple of chances, but Mannus was equal to a couple of Marty Verner 10 yard headers.
Then came that killer goal from Ferguson, and the icing was put on the cake when sub Paul Munster announced his arrival on the Linfield scene with two goals in a minute.
On 84 minutes he was on the spot to slam home from 12 yards after fellow substitute Paul McAreavey's downward header.
Sixty seconds later McAreavey was again the provider with a corner from the left which former Glentoran midfielder Darren Lockhart, now wearing Bangor's colours, mis-headed down to Munster to toe-poke into the net from five yards.