Jimmy Callacher (13)
Andrew Waterworth (88)

2

Andrew Waterworth doubled Linfield's lead late in the game (Picture: Brian Little/PressEye.com)

CALLACHER AND WATERWORTH KEEP LINFIELD CHALLENGE ON TRACK

Linfield swept to a comfortable defeat of Ballymena United at The Showgrounds as the race for the Gibson Cup looks set to be going down to the wire.

The Blues moved in front on 13 minutes through Jimmy Callacher when he rose highest at the back post to direct a header downwards past Tim Allen.

Not long after that Aaron Burns might have added a second but he could only fire his low drive into the side netting.

Stephen Lowry then played Andrew Waterworth through for a turn and shot straight at the 'keeper.

Jamie Mulgrew also came close for the visitors with a rising shot from the edge of the area that just missed the target while Lowry's flicked effort just before the break wasn't far away.

Ballymena's best chance of the first half came early on when Caolan Loughran's header from a Leroy Millar cross was cleared off the line.

It was almost 2-0 eight minutes into the second half only for Lowry to be thwarted by a superb Allen save low to his left.

This was then followed by a Paul Smyth effort narrowly wide of an upright as the Blues looked to extend their lead while, on 77 minutes, a Niall Quinn free-kick was well saved by Allen.

However, Linfield did grab their second goal a couple of minutes from time when Waterworth showed great pace to get onto a Burns ball into the box before beating Allen with a left-foot finish.

Ballymena United: Allen, Owens, Flynn, Jenkins, Ervin, Millar, McKinney, McMurray, McCaffrey, Kerr, Loughran subs McCauley (not used), Gage (not used), Henderson (replaced Loughran 85), McCloskey (replaced McCaffrey 80), Lowry (replaced Millar 76)

Linfield: Carroll, Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth, Lowry, Burns, Clarke, Casement, Mulgrew, Quinn, Smyth subs Millar (not used), Ward (not used), Carson (not used), Gaynor (not used), Strain (not used)

Referee: Arnold Hunter

Attendance: 2280

Tags:  Ballymena United  Linfield