Andrew Waterworth celebrates scoring what proved to be the winner (©INPHO/Brian Little)
Tuesday, 11 December 2018
Linfield needed extra-time to release Dungannon Swifts' grip on the BetMcLean League Cup with victory over the outgoing holders in the semi-final at Stangmore Park.
After a quiet opening Kirk Millar offered up the first of note when, on 15 minutes, his curling effort sailed wide of Niall Morgan's left upright.
At the other end around ten minutes later Alan Teggart turned a header into the side netting from Mark Patton's delivery across the face of goal.
The Swifts came even closer on 36 minutes when Chris Hegarty clipped the outside of the post with a headed effort from another Patton ball into the box.
Linfield started the second half on the front foot. Jordan Stewart fired wide from the edge of box before Niall Quinn saw a free-kick parried over by Morgan with Jamie Mulgrew meeting the resultant corner with a shot against the crossbar.
The Blues continued to press with Stewart threatening again just short of the hour with a left-foot effort which drifted just narrowly wide.
Another chance followed soon after with Waterworth this time being denied by Morgan at point blank range.
But despite their dominance David Healy's side couldn't find a way through during normal time.
However, they did break the deadlock three minutes into extra-time when Waterworth was on hand to tap home the loose ball after Morgan had parried Millar's initial volley.
Swifts substitute Oisin Smyth had a chance early in the second period but his effort was comfortably held by Roy Carroll but Quinn could have put the game to bed soon after only to fire over from just five yards out.
In the end it didn't matter. Waterworth's close range finish early in extra-time proved enough to book a first final since 2008 for Linfield.
Dungannon Swifts: Morgan, Hegarty, Clucas, McMullan, McElroy, Harpur, Teggart, O'Rourke, Patton, Lowe, O'Carroll subs Addis (not used), Hughes (replaced Teggart 94), Burke (not used), Hutchinson (replaced Harpur 70), Lafferty (replaced O'Carroll 77), Campbell (not used), Smyth (replaced McMullan 97)
Linfield: Carroll, Robinson, Callacher, Waterworth, Cooper, Stewart, Millar, Fallon, Mulgrew, Quinn, Casement subs Deane (not used), O'Connor (replaced Cooper 81), Forde (not used), Clarke (replaced Stewart 110), Garrett (not used), Mitchell (replaced Millar 96), Reynolds (not used)
Referee: Steven Gregg