Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Rooney double helps Blues see off Point and reach the summit

Warrenpoint Town 1 Linfield 4

By Gareth McCullough

A Louis Rooney double and strikes from Aaron Burns and Mark Stafford saw David Healy's Linfield take top spot in the Premiership as they eased past struggling Warrenpoint at Milltown last night.

After Martin Murray had drawn the hosts level before the break, the champions stretched away from their opponents after the restart and never looked back.

Despite having the bulk of the possession throughout the first half, Linfield were met by a stubborn Town rearguard that looked much improved on recent outing where they have conceded repeatedly from set-pieces.

However, Healy's men almost took the lead midway through the half when Mark Stafford appeared to have forced the ball over the line, only for Anto Reilly to scramble the ball clear, but the whistle had already gone for a foul on Blayney.

They did have the ball in the net on the half hour, but this time it was ruled out for offside as captain Jamie Mulgrew drove in a low volley that looked to be going wide of the left hand post only for it to be redirected goalwards by Mark Haughey and past a helpless Blayney. Celebrations were quickly cut short by the assistant's flag.

It didn't take long for the champions to take a lead that their dominance deserved with the opening goal arriving 10 minutes before the break.

Millar, who had been lively throughout the first period down the right hand side, fired another decent ball in from that flank and Aaron Burns was on hand to sweep it home from eight yards.

The hosts then equalised hugely against the run of play straight after that Rooney opportunity, with a goal that seemed to take everyone in the ground by surprise, not least Linfield keeper Roy Carroll.

Sean Mackle fed Martin Murray midway inside the Linfield half on the left and the winger curled an effort from 20 yards that began outside of the right hand post, and while Carroll seemed to think it was going wide, the ball went in off the inside of the upright.

Warrenpoint had the opening chance of the second half and one they probably should have taken the lead from on 47 minutes.

Mackle's free from the left found Lorcan Forde unmarked eight yards out, but the youngster couldn't get enough purchase on his header and it ended up going harmlessly into Carroll's hands.

However, it was Linfield who regained their lead in the 57th minute from the penalty spot.

Seanna Foster was adjudged to have fouled Mulgrew in the box, and although the 'Point bench was furious with the decision by referee Glen Tonna, Rooney stepped up to send Blayney the wrong way from the spot to make it 2-1.

The result was put beyond doubt 15 minutes from time as Rooney got his second of the night that owed much to a goalkeeping mistake from Blayney as anything else.

Millar's header forward looked to be going straight to the keeper but, under pressure from Rooney, he let the ball squirm through and the Northern Ireland Under-21 international had the simplest of tasks to roll the ball into the empty net.

The gloss was put on the result three minutes from time when Stafford sidefooted home from point-blank range after Niall Quinn's low ball had evaded everybody inside the six-yard box.

Belfast Telegraph

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