IRISH LEAGUE: Five star Linfield surge to the top

Coleraine 1 Linfield 5

Saturday, 22nd April 2017, 4:53 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:45 pm
Linfields Andrew Waterworth and Coleraine's Steven Douglas tussle.

Linfield made an unbelievable comeback at Coleraine Showgrounds to surge ahead in the battle for the Gibson Cup with one game to go.

The Blues are now two points clear at the top of the league with one game to go after a 5-1 win over third placed Coleraine, who also secured European football despite the defeat.

James McLaughlin had given the Bannsiders the lead early in the second half, but a brace apiece from Aaron Burns and Andrew Waterworth, and another from Paul Smyth completed a great day for David Healy's men.

The visitors made all the early running and could have been in front inside the first minute.

Paul Smyth took advantage of a slip by David Ogilby and raced clear, his cut back though evaded the outstretched leg of Andy Waterworth.

The striker did have the ball in the net on nine minutes, but referee Andrew Davey ruled it out for a foul on Chris Johns, who seemed to have the ball in his grasp after initially parrying Aaron Burns' shot.

Coleraine eventually grew into the game but the only chance they could muster in the first half hour was a long range shot from Darren McCauley, which never troubled Roy Carroll.

Burns should have done better with two efforts in quick succession as first he headed over from Niall Quinn's corner, before he lashed a shot off target from a clearance by Adam Mullan.

Smyth did test Johns with a shot from inside the box on 35 minutes, while at the other end McCauley forced Carroll into action with a similar effort minutes later.

Six minutes into the second half the deadlock was finally broken, and it was the hosts who edged in front.

James McLaughlin found space to power a close range header past Carroll from McCafferty's corner.

The lead lasted only five minutes as Burns a cross-cum-shot into the top corner to level things up again.

It got even better for the Blues on 64 minutes as they edged in front for the first time.

A swift break down the left saw Clarke drive a low ball across the face of goal and Smyth poked past Johns.

But they were not finished just yet as they made it 3-1 three minutes later. Ciaron Harkin was lured into a tackle on Smyth inside the box and the spot kick was awarded. Up stepped Burns to send Johns the wrong way and give his side a two-goal cushion.

Andy Waterworth got in on the act on 74 minutes as he tapped home from close range after an excellent run by Matthew Clarke down the left.

The visitors could afford to miss a penalty as Smyth's shot struck McConaghie on the hand, but the winger's spot kick was saved by Johns.

But they weren't to be denied as seconds later Lowry won the ball and crossed for Waterworth to head in his second.