Ballyclare Comrades stun Blues in League Cup

Ballyclare's Chris Trussell celebrates after putting Ballyclare 1-0 up against Linfield in the League Cup.  INLT 35-693-CON (Presseye pic)
Ballyclare's Chris Trussell celebrates after putting Ballyclare 1-0 up against Linfield in the League Cup. INLT 35-693-CON (Presseye pic)

On a night to remember for all Comrades supporters, their team produced a magnificent performance to knock might Linfield out of League Cup in front of a sizeable Dixon Park crowd.

With his side coming into the game on the back of a couple of good performances, Eddie Hill kept with the same starting line-up as had taken the field against Loughgall only two days earlier.

As might have been expected the early pressure came from the visitors, but Comrades’ held firm, restricting Linfield to speculative efforts. Any crosses which came into the box were comprehensively dealt with by the Comrades defence, a pattern that was to continue for the rest of the match.

The Blues had to wait until 20 minutes for their first notable effort when Rodney Brown hit a good overhead effort over the bar from 8 yards. Then, two minutes later, Hegarty blasted a shot over the bar from 6 yards after being picked out from a corner.

As the half progressed Comrades looked increasingly confident and began troubling the Linfield defence. On 28 minutes, an adventurous run forward from Andrew Doyle ended with a shot from 30 minutes which went low, wide of the base of the post.

In the 41st minute Comrades created the best chance of the game so far, when a devastating counter-attack ended with Kyle Agnew playing a delightful diagonal ball into the path of Chris Trussell, running onto the ball in a good position 16 yards out.

However the usually lethal striker couldn’t keep his shot down and his effort flew well over the bar.

A minute before the break Comrades had another very presentable chance when Johnny McClurg slid the ball through the middle of the visitors’ defence to Kyle Agnew, but he found his effort from 5 yards blocked by ‘keeper Glendinning.

Comrades’ supporters would have been very encouraged by their team’s first half display, but even better was to come.

Inside the second minute of the new half Comrades had another chance when Kyle Agnew, who was a thorn in Linfield’s flesh throughout the game, got free on the left and cut inside. However, unfortunately for him he took a slightly heavy touch and Glendinning was able to smother the ball inside the 6-yard box.

Comrades looked the more likely side to break the deadlock at this stage and they duly stunned the large Linfield following in the 55th down inside the visitors’ half, but the referee played a good advantage as Johnny McClurg picked up the loose and slid a perfect pass through to Chris Trussell. This time the marksman made no mistake, sliding the ball past the outrushing keeper from minute. Kyle Agnew was brought 13 yards.

Whilst Linfield pressed after this, they struggled to find a way past a resolute Comrades side whose players were working their socks of all over the pitch and showing no signs of tiredness in their second game in three days. The visitors were reduced to firing hopeful balls into the box which were constantly headed away by the dominant centre-half pairing of Andrew Doyle and Chris Getty.

Indeed, whilst Linfield toiled in attack, the home side looked dangerous going forward. On 74 minute a good enterprising run down the centre from Gary Brown ended with him shooting wide from the edge of the box. Then, four minutes later, a similar run down the middle from substitute Daniel Smith ended with him feeding the ball to Kyle Agnew who fired a crisp shot wide from 16 yards.

Comrades ‘keeper Paddy Flood had, apart from dealing well with corners, had a fairly quiet night. However on 86 minute he was called to make his first serious save, when Hegarty fired in a fierce shot from 22 yards, which Flood did very well to push wide of the goal.

That aside, Comrades had been relatively untroubled and held on to deservedly take a stunning victory, earned by a superb all-round team performance.