Belfast Telegraph

Blues hit six of the best to fire out title warning

Linfield 6-0 Dungannon Swifts

By David Mason

David Healy's Linfield last night showed they mean business in their pursuit of the Danske Bank Premiership title.The Gibson Cup hasn't taken up residence at Windsor Park for three years and, even though the Blues still trail Crusaders by six points at the top of the table, this performance certainly suggested they are in it for the long haul.

First-half goals from Andy Waterworth - his 24th of the season - Paul Smyth and Mark Stafford had the contest over before the break.

Stafford helped himself to another late on to bring his total to five goals since joining the Blues from Ballinamallard United in the summer, before substitute Aaron Burns and new signing Michael McLellan completed the demolition.

As for Rodney McAree's Swifts, this display suggests beating the drop will be a difficult hurdle.

It was the visitors who were first to threaten, with Alan Teggart picking out Andrew Mitchell, but he ballooned over.

Linfield forged ahead on 15 minutes through the prolific Waterworth. Matthew Clarke's initial effort was blocked, but when the ball fell invitingly for the big striker, his low drive whistled past a stranded Andy Coleman.

The home fans were on their feet again four minutes later with a goal of Smyth's own making. He picked the pocket of Dermot McCaffrey and, after a 30 yard dash, the teenager displayed a cool head to walk past Coleman before firing in.

The Swifts at last managed to test the home defence with Teggart and Jamie Glackin combining, but Jamie Mulgrew got back in time.

Normal service resumed at the other end on 33 minutes with Sean Ward picking out Ross Gaynor at the back post, but Coleman did well to beat away.

The game was over as a contest five minutes later. Stafford, who also scored against Carrick at the weekend, steamed on to a Kirk Millar corner and bundled the ball over the line.

It could have been worst for the Swifts. Gaynor had a shot deflected inches past the post by Andrew Burns' outstretched boot before Coleman produced a wonder save to deny Stafford.

The Swifts appeared for the second session with more hope than expectation and for the opening 20 minutes did display the battling qualities that were sadly lacking in the first-half.

They were pulled apart at the back by the trickery of Smyth on 65 minutes. The little striker set up a great chance for Gaynor, who pulled his shot across goal.

Burns almost made an immediate impact after his introduction for Mulgrew on 69 minutes. He burst from the touchline to meet a Millar corner with his header crashing against the bar.

Stafford finally put the icing on the cake 10 minutes from time.

Substitute Guy Bates sent in a delicious cross from the left and the big defender was left totally unmarked at the back post and his header powered into the bottom corner.

Burns was then afforded the freedom of the international venue to ram home the fifth on 90 minutes - but the Blues were still not finished.

McLellan, who joined the club from H&W Welders last week, burst through the middle and finished emphatically.

LINFIELD: Ross Glendinning Stafford, Callacher, Waterworth (Bates 67), Millar, Ward, Clarke, Mulgrew (Burns 69), Reece Glendinning, Gaynor, Smyth (McLellan 76).

Subs not used: Kee, Quinn

Dungannon Swifts: Coleman, Montgomery (Douglas 46), Burns, McCaffrey (Hazley 63), Wilson, Lowe, O'Rourke, Teggart, Harpur, Glackin, Mitchell (Liggett 73).

Subs not used: Fitzpatrick, Burke.

Man of the match: Mark Stafford

Match rating: 7/10

Referee: T Marshall (Irvinestown)

Belfast Telegraph


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