Belfast Telegraph

In pictures: Linfield are all but league champions as Waterworth goal beats Ballymena again

Ballymena United 0-1 Linfield

Linfield's Andrew Waterworth netted the all-important goal at the Ballymena Showgrounds.
Linfield's Andrew Waterworth netted the all-important goal at the Ballymena Showgrounds.
Pacemaker Belfast 5-4-19 Ballymena v Linfiled - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield fans celebrate during this evening's game at The Showgrounds, Ballymena. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 5-4-19 Ballymena v Linfiled - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Chris Casement celebrates during this evening's game at The Showgrounds, Ballymena. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 5-4-19 Ballymena v Linfiled - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Chris Casement celebrates during this evening's game at The Showgrounds, Ballymena. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 5-4-19 Ballymena v Linfiled - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Chris Casement celebrates during this evening's game at The Showgrounds, Ballymena. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 5-4-19 Ballymena v Linfiled - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Chris Casement celebrates during this evening's game at The Showgrounds, Ballymena. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 5-4-19 Ballymena v Linfiled - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Jordan Stewart and Andrew Mitchell celebrate during this evening's game at The Showgrounds, Ballymena. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Linfield manager David Healy.
Linfield boss David Healy celebrates his side's 1-0 win over Ballymena United.
Pacemaker Belfast 5-4-19 Ballymena v Linfiled - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Joshua Robinson celebrates during this evening's game at The Showgrounds, Ballymena. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 5-4-19 Ballymena v Linfiled - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Joshua Robinson celebrates during this evening's game at The Showgrounds, Ballymena. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 5-4-19 Ballymena v Linfiled - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Roy Carroll celebrates during this evening's game at The Showgrounds, Ballymena. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 5-4-19 Ballymena v Linfiled - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Roy Carroll celebrates during this evening's game at The Showgrounds, Ballymena. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 5-4-19 Ballymena v Linfiled - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Andrew Waterworth celebrates his goal during this evening's game at The Showgrounds, Ballymena. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 5-4-19 Ballymena v Linfiled - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Andrew Waterworth celebrates his goal during this evening's game at The Showgrounds, Ballymena. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 5-4-19 Ballymena v Linfiled - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Andrew Waterworth celebrates his goal during this evening's game at The Showgrounds, Ballymena. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Linfield's Andrew Waterworth netted the all-important goal at the Ballymena Showgrounds.
Pacemaker Belfast 5-4-19 Ballymena v Linfiled - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Jimmy Callacher and Ballymena's Adam Lecky during this evening's game at The Showgrounds, Ballymena. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 5-4-19 Ballymena v Linfiled - Danske Bank Premiership Ballymena's Jude Winchester and Linfield's Daniel Kearns during this evening's game at The Showgrounds, Ballymena. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 5-4-19 Ballymena v Linfiled - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Jordan Stewart in full flight during this evening's game at The Showgrounds, Ballymena. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 5-4-19 Ballymena v Linfiled - Danske Bank Premiership Linfield's Jimmy Callacher and Ballymena's Jonathan McMurray during this evening's game at The Showgrounds, Ballymena. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Danske Bank Premiership, The Showgrounds Ballymena 5/04/2019 Ballymena United v Linfield Linfield's Andy Waterworth celebrates scoring Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton
Danske Bank Premiership, The Showgrounds Ballymena 5/04/2019 Ballymena United v Linfield Linfield's Andy Waterworth celebrates scoring Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton
Danske Bank Premiership, The Showgrounds Ballymena 5/04/2019 Ballymena United v Linfield Ballymena' s Jim Ervin with Linfield's Daniel Kearns Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton
Danske Bank Premiership, The Showgrounds Ballymena 5/04/2019 Ballymena United v Linfield Ballymena' s Leroy Millar with Linfield's Gareth Deane Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton
Danske Bank Premiership, The Showgrounds Ballymena 5/04/2019 Ballymena United v Linfield Ballymena' s Jude Winchester with Linfield's Jamie Mulgrew Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton
Danske Bank Premiership, The Showgrounds Ballymena 5/04/2019 Ballymena United v Linfield Ballymena' s Kofi Balmer with Linfield's Daniel Kearns Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton

Andy Waterworth's goal was enough to see Linfield all but secure their 53rd league title by edging out Ballymena United 1-0 at the Showgrounds on Friday evening.

They're now 12 points clear at the top of the table with four games left and with a goal difference 19 better than Ballymena. A draw with Crusaders at Windsor Park next weekend and it will be officially over.

It was a case of de ja vu for the hosts, who once again couldn't make their chances count against the Blues as the visitors showed their clinical edge at the other end.

Waterworth's 17th league goal of the seasson arrived just seconds into the second half as he fired a first-time shot into the bottom corner to punish the Braidmen's missed chances.

Ballymena's Johnny McMurray managed to force the first shot on target just 15 seconds into the game and, while it did little to trouble Gareth Deane, the Linfield man was the first of the goalkeepers breathing a sigh of relief soon after.

That was when McMurray managed to tee up strike partner Adam Lecky, but pressure from Daniel Kearns forced the former Ballinamallard man to blast over.

It had been a positive start from the hosts and that continued after Kofi Balmer did well to put off Linfield's Joel Cooper at the other end.

Linfield have now kept 25 clean sheets this season but required help from the crossbar when Balmer crashed a half-volley at goal soon after.

Deane was forced into more work of his own when he had to stop Andy McGrory's free-kick finding the top corner.

When you're on top against Linfield, as Ballymena know well from the League Cup final, you had best score.

And the Blues proved why once again through, guess who, Andy Waterworth just 45 seconds into the second half. Cooper found the forward on the right side of the box and, not needing a second invitation, he swivelled and fired a first-time shot across United keeper Ross Glendinning into the bottom corner.

Ballymena got back on the front foot soon after but McGrory was again denied after the midfielder had been teed up by Lecky.

Waterworth tried to add a second in injury-time but even though his volley flew over the bar, it was his night yet again as the goal-scorer extraordinaire delivered another crucial goal for Linfield.

The Blues host Crusaders on Saturday, April 13, when they can officially kick-off their 53rd league title party.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph