Andrew Mitchell (77p)

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Andrew Mitchell celebrates scoring Linfield's winner (Picture: Brian Little/PressEye.com)

BLUES STILL PERFECT AFTER FOUR GAMES

Linfield made it four wins and four clean sheets on the bounce with this narrow home defeat of Ballymena United.

The visitors tested Blues 'keeper Roy Carroll on 17 minutes when he was forced to turn away a low stinging effort from Joe McKinney.

At the other end, just after the half-hour mark, Robert Garret sent a 20-yard drive along the surface just wide of the target after Chris Casement had done well to knock the ball down.

Ballymena started brightly after the break, going close on 47 minutes when Kyle Owens' dipping volley from the corner of the box was brilliantly saved by Carroll.

However, on 54 minutes, Linfield almost made the breakthrough when Millar's corner was headed goalbound by Mark Haughey only to be cleared off the line by Fra McCaffrey.

Then, on 66 minutes, Paul Smyth sent a curling effort towards goal but United 'keeper Conor Brennan did superbly well to stop the effort.

What proved to be the winner arrived just over ten minutes later. Smyth played Andrew Mitchell into the area whereupon he was upended but he duly dusted himself down to slot the subsequent spot-kick past Brennan into the right side of the net.

And any hopes Ballymena had of salvaging something from the game were made even more difficult a couple of minutes after that when Andrew Burns received a straight red card for a challenge on Jamie Mulgrew.

Linfield: Carroll, Stafford, Haughey, J. Stewart, Millar, Casement, Mulgrew, Garrett, Mitchell, Quinn, Smyth subs C. Stewart (not used), Robinson (not used), Lowry (replaced Garrett 64), Burns (replaced J. Stewart 26), M. Clarke (not used)

Ballymena United: Brennan, Kane, Owens, Flynn, Thompson, Friel, McCloskey, Burns, Ervin, McCaffrey, McKinney subs Glendinning (not used), Gault (not used), Faulkner (replaced McKinney 46), Shevlin (replaced Friel 81), McCullough (replaced McCaffrey 81)

Referee: Evan Boyce

Attendance: 1711

Tags:  Ballymena United  Linfield