In Pictures: Jake Corbett nets twice as Linfield Swifts beat Newington in Christmas showdown to lift Steel and Sons Cup
Linfield Swifts made it a Christmas to remember by lifting the Toals Steel and Sons Cup at Seaview.
The Swifts had lost the festive showdown in 2017 to Newington 1-0 but this time they conquered the same opponents 3-1 to make sure the Christmas dinner tasted better than ever.
David Dorrian’s young side were unable to rise to the occasion two years ago but this time they came to the party as two headers from teenage midfielder Jake Corbett and a late strike from Charlie Allen ensured the boys in red and white felt the magic of Christmas.
Premier Intermediate League side Newington set up a tense finish when substitute Raymond McVarnock netted in the 80th minute to make it 2-1 but the young Swifts showed their class, with 15-year-old Dale Taylor in particular shining on the big stage.
Linfield started brightly in the sunshine as Taylor’s low drive was gathered by keeper Marc Maybin.
Ruairi O’Hare’s header from a Mark Green corner sailed over the crossbar but then Newington settled into the contest and Michael Gallagher’s shot flew wide of the target.
Seconds later, in the 18th minute, Maybin spilled Taylor’s shot and counted his blessings as the ball trickled last the post.
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The Swifts looked composed and hungry as Allen, the gifted 16-year-old chased by a number of top clubs, dragged a low wide.
Maybin made a stunning fingertip save to keep out Trai Hume’s 30 yard effort but five minutes before half-time the Swifts did edge in front.
Promising 18-year-old midfielder Corbett was left unmarked in the penalty area and his downward header found the bottom corner of the net.
Three minutes after the restart the Swifts almost doubled their lead but Maybin did well to turn away Allen’s low free kick.
But there was a let off for the young Blues side in the 55th minute when Michael Gallagher’s glancing header from Gavin Taggart’s free kick was ruled offside.
At the other end, Daniel Reynolds screwed his low shot wide of the upright.
Just as Newington started to apply pressure, the Swifts and Corbett struck again on 68 minutes when he headed home from close range.
Skipper Trai Hume curled a shot wide of the post and in the 80th minute Newington set up a dramatic finish when substitute Robert McVarnock became the latest unmarked player to head the ball home.
Maybin produced another fine block to deny Allen and in a frantic finish keeper Alex Moore palmed away Gallagher’s effort.
Moore was again the hero when he saved substitute Jonathan Gowdy’s drive and Hume blasted the ball off the goal-line.
The Swifts then made the outcome certain when Allen broke away following a corner and drilled a low shot beyond Maybin.
Christmas 2019 and a familiar story... a trophy heading to Linfield Football Club.
Linfield Swifts: Moore, McGivern, McVeigh, O’Hare, Larkin, Hume, Green, Corbett, Reynolds (Carroll 65), Taylor, Allen. Subs: Gemmell, Storey, Archer, Dinu.
Newington: Maybin, O’Reilly, Pierce, Casey, Bradley, R Gowdy, Gallagher, Taggart (Cummings 69), Devine (J Gowdy 60), White (McVarnock 75), McConnell. Subs (not used): Dempsey, Hughes.
Referee: Richard Stewart.