Daniel Kelly and Niall Quinn rise for the ball (Picture: Brian Little/PressEye.com)
Saturday, 11 February 2017
A goal at the end of each half gave Linfield the points from this visit to Carrickfergus.
Cameron Stewart created the first effort of note for Linfield inside the opening minute but his looping header was saved by 'keeper Brian Neeson.
And Neeson was called into action again a short time later to deal with a Jimmy Callacher volley while, for Carrick, Steven McCullough could only fire a 20-yard free-kick into the wall.
Carrick suffered a blow midway through the first half with the loss of Neeson through injury. He was replaced between the sticks by Mark Surgenor while Kyle McVey came off the bench.
However, Linfield, despite efforts from Stewart, Callacher and Niall Quinn, failed to beat Surgenor until the stroke of half-time.
Following a sweeping move involving Kirk Millar and Jamie Mulgrew the ball fell for Quinn but his shot was blocked by the arm of Stephen Quigley and, from the subsequent spot-kick, Philip Lowry knocked it home straight down the middle.
The Blues kept up the pressure after the break with Surgenor pushing away a Millar ball into the box before Lowry fired over from distance.
But it wasn't all one way traffic. The League Cup finalists tested Roy Carroll with a Sean Noble effort although, at the other end, Quinn went close to doubling Linfield's lead by striking an upright.
However, Linfield's second goal did arrive right at the end of the game through substitute Paul Smyth after he steering the ball home following some frantic Rangers defending.
Carrick Rangers: Neeson, Quigley, McCullough, McNally, Surgenor, Kelly, Clarke, Noble, McAllister, O'Connor, O'Brien subs M. Murray (replaced O'Connor 60), Smyth (not used), McVey (replaced Neeson 31), Elder (not used), McConnell (replaced Quigley 74)
Linfield: Carroll, Stafford, Stewart, Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth, Lowry, Millar, M. Clarke, Mulgrew, Quinn subs Ward (replaced Haughey 69), Fallon (not used), Carson (not used), Gaynor (replaced Quinn 90+2), Smyth (replaced Millar 80)
Referee: Keith Kennedy
|Mark Clarke||90 +2|
|Stephen Lowry||45 +1|
|Niall Quinn||90 +2|
|Ross Gaynor||90 +2|
|Paul Smyth||80||90 +1|