Andrew Waterworth celebrates scoring (©INPHO/Brian Little)
Saturday, 02 December 2017
An Andy Waterworth goal midway through the second half helped Linfield squeeze past Dungannon Swifts at Windsor Park.
Waterworth might have broken the deadlock as early as the ninth minute only to slide the ball just wide after being put through by Jordan Stewart.
At the other end Kris Lowe crossed from the right for Ryan Harpur at the back post only for the Swifts to be thwarted by an excellent Roy Carroll save.
But Linfield always looked the more likely to find a way through with Stewart, Waterworth, Niall Quinn, Chris Casement and Kirk Millar all seeing efforts either blocked, saved or drift off target.
After the break, Lowe tested Carroll again after being put through but Carroll again proved his worth to deal with the threat while David Armstrong headed onto the roof of the net.
What proved to be the winner came on 68 minutes, however, when Matthew Clarke delivered the ball from the left for Waterworth to meet ten yards out to power a downward header into the bottom corner.
Home substitute Ryan Strain made quite an impression after replacing Stewart, creating a number of chances including producing two great stops from Stuart Addis in quick succession with efforts from outside the box.
Linfield could never quite rest of their lead and, indeed, might have been pegged back with ten minutes to go after Peter McMahon got past Mark Stafford but Carroll rescued them with a save with his legs.
McMahon came close again late on with a speculative dipping effort just over the top but, in the end, David Healy's side held on to claim the points.
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Linfield: Carroll, Stafford, Haughey, Waterworth, Lowry, J. Stewart, Millar, M. Clarke, Casement, Garrett, Quinn subs Robinson (not used), Rooney (not used), Mitchell (replaced Millar 84), R. Clarke (not used), Strain (replaced Stewart 61)
Dungannon Swifts: Addis, Armstrong, Mayse, Harpur, O'Rourke, Lowe, Clucas, McMenamin, Burke, Hutchinson, Lafferty subs Coleman (not used), Fitzpatrick (replaced McMenamin 76), McMahon (replaced Hutchinson 72), Teggart (replaced Burke 60), Campbell (not used)
Referee: Tim Marshall