Damien Curran inspired the ten men of Linfield to victory at bottom club Institute last night.
The former Newry City man had a hand in the opening two goals before blasting home their third at the start of the second half as the league leaders got that shock midweek defeat to Glenavon out of their system.
David Jeffrey’s side totally out-played ’Stute despite having played the majority of the game with only 10 men.
The visitors dominated things throughout the first half and they could have went in front after just eight minutes when Billy Joe Burns’ right wing centre found Philip Lowry, but the ex-Stute midfielder’s header was straight at Gavin Cullen.
They did take the lead on 16 minutes when Curran’s inswinging corner from the right flew to the back post and found centre-back William Murphy, who easily got away from David Ogilby, before heading home past Cullen.
Linfield had a superb chance to double their lead minutes later when Burns’ long throw-in caught out Ogilby, but fortunately for the defender, Peter Thompson’s shot on the turn from just inside the right hand side of the six yard box flew over.
The Blues were rightfully reduced to ten men on 23 minutes when McAllister was shown a straight red card for leading with his elbow when challenging Paddy McLaughlin.
The Blues doubled their advantage right on the stroke of half-time in somewhat fortunate circumstances when another dangerous Curran cross from the left was turned into his own net by Eamonn Seydak.
’Stute made two changes at the break with youngsters Joe McCready and Graham Crown replaced by Semple and Wray.
But the home side fell further behind on 50 minutes.
Initially Cullen made two super saves to deny Burns and then Thompson, but he could do noth
ing with Curran’s tremendous volley, which clipped the underside of the bar before whistling into the net, after Thompson’s cross had created the chance.
With three substitutes used, the home side were reduced to ten men just after the hour mark when Ramsey had to be stretchered off after injuring his ankle after challenging Murphy.
Worryingly for Stute boss John Gregg, his frontman looks set to miss the remainder of the season, as he left the ground before the game was over in an ambulance.
The 3-0 win for the Blues put a smile back on the face of Jeffrey as Linfield opened up a five-point gap at the top of the table.
Institute: Cullen, Crown, McLaughlin, Ogilby, Seydak; Divin, Shields, Boyle, Holmes; McCready, Ramsey. Subs: Wray (for Crown 45), Semple (for McCready 45); Friars (for Seydak 56).
Linfield: Blayney, BJ Burns, Murphy, Bailie, Gallagher; Lowry, Garrett, Mulgrew, Curran; McAllister, Thompson. Subs: Douglas (for Bailie 32); Gault (for Garrett 61); Allen (for Thompson 76).
Referee: Mr Hugh Carvill (Belfast).