IRISH LEAGUE: Linfield see off Ballymena United at the Showgrounds

Ballymena United's Tony Kane (right) celebrates scoring against Linfield
Ballymena United's Tony Kane (right) celebrates scoring against Linfield

Linfirld closed the gap on Crusaders at the top of the Danske Bank Premier league after a convincing 4-1 win against Ballymena United at the Showgrounds.

Goals from Andrew Waterworth, Stephen Lowry, Mark Haughey and Jamie Mulgrew were all on target for the Blues while Tony Kane got Ballymena’s only reply.

Linfield started brightly and Haughey shot over from a corner in the eighth minute when he should have done better.

Two minutes later the Blues had another chance but Mark Stafford’s header was saved by Alan Blayney.

The Blues - who were the better side in the early exchanges - took the lead in the 21st minute.

Haughey’s floated pass being glanced home by Waterworth as Blayney watched on.

United had their first chance of the half in the 31st minute but Jim Ervin blasted wide from the edge of the box.

The home side did pull level in the 35 minute through a fantastic free-kick from Kane,

Kane curling the ball over the Linfield wall before hitting the post on the way in past a sprawling Roy Carroll.

Just after the break Linfield had a great chance but Paul Smith’s effort was well saved by Blayney.

Linfield regained the lead in the 60th minute through Lowry.

The midfielder bundling the ball over the line after an effort from Smith.

It was 3-1 in the 66th minute. A great ball across the six yard box by Ross Gaynor was finished off by Haughey and it was no more than the Blues deserved.

David Healy’s side had a chance to make it 4-1 in the 74th minute through a penalty but Gaynor dragged his spot-kick wide.

Moments later Allan Jenkins had a chance to pull one back for United but he failed to make contact to an Ervin cross with the goal at his mercy.

Linfield made it 4-1 at the very death when Mulgrew curled in a fine finish to seal the victory.

It was a convincing win for the Blues and Ballymena can really have to complaints with the final result - but they will look to bounce back against Carrick at home on Saturday.

Ballymena United: Blayney, T Kane, Owens, Flynn, Gage (Millar 77mins), Jenkins, Faulkner, Friel, E Kane, Ervin, McMurray.

Subs not used: McAuley, Henderson, Mackie, Loughran.

Linfield: Carroll, Stafford, Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth, Lowry (Casement 85mins), Ward, Mulgrew, Quinn, Clarke, Gaynor, 52mins), Smith (Millar, 80mims).

Subs not used: Burns, Carson.

Ref: K Kennedy