Linfield move nine clear at top of Danske Bank Premiership after beating Ballymena United at Windsor Park

Linfield's Josh Robinson in action
Linfield's Josh Robinson in action

Linfield 1 Ballymena 0

Linfield are nine points clear at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership after a 1-0 victory over second placed Ballymena United at Windsor Park.

Defender Joshua Roboinson with the winner in the second half but United will feel - like last weekend's League Cup Final when they lost 1-0 to the Blues - that they deserved something from the encounter.

The match was also David Jeffrey's 150th in charge of the club and what a turnaround he has led at the Showgrounds. The Sky Blues finishing in the top six for the third time and of course they lifted the League Cup in 2017.

And the Sky Blues got off to a lively start as they looked to work their way through the Linfield defence with Jude Winchester trying his luck in the sixth minute. His effort however lacked power and Linfield keeper Gareth Deane was untroubled as the ball flew wide.

In the eighth minute United had another chance as Andy McGrory raced clear. His lob beat keeper Keane but Jimmy Callacher raced back to clear.

It was all United in these opening exchanges and Linfield boss David Healy was getting animated on the sidelines as his side struggled to get to grips with the visitors.

The home side had their first chance in the 17th minute after a quick break but Andy Waterworth's effort was deflected wide by the United defence.

Linfield's Jamie Mulgrew tried his luck in the 28th minute. His shot from the edge of the box was deflected and keeper Ross Glendinning collected with ease.

The 30 minute mark arrived and there was still plenty to play for as both sides kept pushing for the opening goal of this top two encounter at Windsor and to ne honest their was very little between the two sides.

United broke again with pace in the 32nd minute as Steven McCullough found Adam Lecky who headed just off target.

Linfield's Callacher was then booked in the 44th minute for another foul on Lecky. The big United striker was causing the Linfield back three all sorts of problems with his height, touch and awkwardness.

Then on the break from a corner United had another chance as Scot Whiteside headed over the Blues net from a McCullough corner.

The second started with both sides pressing and the first goal here could be the clincher for either side.

Linfield's Josh Robinson then unleashed a thunderbolt from outside the box that rattles the United bar.

Moments later it is 1-0 to Linfield as Robinson powers home a header from a corner from Kyle McClean. It was good finish from the big defender and the league leaders were ahead after United had the better of the first half.

Cathair Frielk's cross come shot was pushed over the bar by the back peddling Deane in the Linfield goal.

McGrory tried his luck for United in the 72nd minute but his shot flew high and wide and it seemed the Sky Blues were getting a wee bit desperate to get back on level terms.

The visitors had a chance in the 86th minute as substitute Shane McGinty rattled Blues crossbar with Deane beaten.

Then moments later broke and United skipper Jim Ervin denied Waterworth from a Michael O'Connor cross. A great tackle from Ervin.

United then had a huge appeal for a penalty in the 90th minute as Lecky's shot was blocked in the box by Callacher. United manager David Jeffrey's let his feelings be known to the fourth official as he thought it should have been given.

United had a chance right at the death but Leroy Millar could not connect with a Lecky pass.

Linfield: Deane, Robinson, Callacher, Waterworth, Kearns (O'Connor 68mins), McClean, Mulgrew, McGivern, Cervenka (Stewart 68mins), Quinn, Casement.

Subs not used: Mitchell, Stafford, Millar, Forde, Clarke.

Ballymena United: Glendinning, Kane, Addis, Whiteside, Friel, McCullough (McGinty 85mins), McGrory (Faulkner 76mins), Winchester (McMurray 70mins), Ervin, Lecky, Millar.

Subs not used: Williamson, Quigley, Shevlin, Watson.

Referee: Tim Marshall