Michael O'Connor, Linfield FC

Brusied Blues Battle to Blustery Big Two Win

Linfield maintain pace with Glenavon after coming through tempestuous Oval affair!!!

It certainly wasn’t a classic, but that won’t concern David Healy or anyone of a Linfield persuasion, tonight!

The Blues extended their unbeaten run to eleven games with another shutout victory over Glentoran in a ‘baltic’ East Belfast.

Amazingly, Roy Carroll and the Linfield backline have kept an astonishing nine clean sheets in those eleven games.

The difference on an evening where the elements played havoc with more than just the Sky Sports television cameras, was a fifteenth minute piledriver from Linfield powerhouse Michael O’Connor. The former Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers frontman, who was due to trial with The Glens before opting for Windsor Park in the Summer, effort beating Elliott Morris via a slight deflection after Joel Cooper had waltzed through the Glentoran defence.

Linfield were definitely the best to adjust to the conditions in the opening period, and were very unlucky to make it two-nil when Kirk Millar’s inswinging corner world have flown directly into the corner of the net, had it not been for an alert Curtis Allen at the back post.

The final ten minutes of the first-half were dominated by some tempestuous scenes, that have come to be synonymous with Big Two clashes.

Glens centre-half Callum Birney was lucky only to see yellow after a blatant kick at Josh Robinson’s shins, before a terrible challenge by Joe Crowe on the creative Cooper should really have been punished further by referee Arnold Hunter.

The Linfield winger, who remonstrated with Hunter when the half-time whistle went, succumbed to the heavy treatment he was subject to only four minutes into the second half, when he was replaced by Niall Quinn.

Ronnie McFall’s side came into the game more in the second half and Allen missed a golden opportunity to draw things level, when his free header from a Steven Gordon corner drifted agonisingly wide of Carroll’s goal.

The former Bournemouth trainee, who spent two seasons at Linfield from 2009 to 2011, remains one shy of getting his ton up for Glentoran.

The Blues, whose defence responded superbly to everything the home side threw at them in the second-half had a significant penalty shout on the hour mark when Jamie Mulgrew’s effort seemed to be handled by William Garret, but Hunter waved play on.

The game could have been sewn up ten minutes later, when an exquisite cross from substitute Quinn evaded brace-seeking O’Connor by inches at the backpost.

Glentoran, who seemed to be running out of ideas as the game drew to a close had one last chance of note eleven minutes from time, when Birney’s downward header was beat away by Carroll on the goal line, but the 52-time champions stayed well on course for number 53, by seeing out the last ten minutes in relative comfort and drawing to with a single point of leaders Glenavon at the top of the table.

Final Score from The Oval, Glentoran 0-1 Linfield.

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