Su­per Ste­wart’s tre­ble keeps Blues on track

Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - Sports - BY PHIL FINNEGAN

LIN­FIELD moved three points clear at the top of the ta­ble with a re­sound­ing win over War­ren­point at Wind­sor Park yes­ter­day.

David Healy’s men showed pa­tience and steely fo­cus as they al­lowed the vis­i­tors to punch them­selves out be­fore go­ing for the jugu­lar in the fi­nal half-hour.

War­ren­point did their best to make early in­roads but ev­ery ques­tion they asked was met with a curt re­sponse.

Go­ing for­ward, Lin­field were ini­tially flat but as the half wore on they fi­nally roused them­selves.

Jamie Mul­grew won a cou­ple of meaty chal­lenges in mid­field and Philip Don­nelly re­sponded by clat­ter­ing the Lin­field skip­per, pick­ing up a yel­low card in the process. The en­su­ing melee at least helped to raise the tem­per­a­ture in what had been a tepid game to that point.

And the Blues, re­spond­ing to the roar from their fans, took the lead soon after with a move of real qual­ity and vi­sion.

Jor­dan Ste­wart freed Joel Cooper down the left with a re­verse ball and car­ried on run­ning into the box where he took the re­turn pass and side-footed in from eight yards.

The game broke open in the sec­ond half. Kirk Mil­lar’s cross from the right found Andy Water­worth in front of goal but the Lin­field striker’s div­ing header was all power and no pre­ci­sion, al­low­ing teenage keeper Jared Thomp­son to tip the ball over.

At the other end, Don­nelly got in be­hind Jimmy Cal­lacher and sent a clever lofted shot over Roy Car­roll but wide of the far post. In the 58th minute Ste­wart jinked into the area and made space for a shot which Anto Reilly blocked with his arm.

The Blues’ play­maker took the penalty him­self, send­ing Thomp­son the wrong way to make it 2-0.

With 10 left Water­worth’s run down the right was halted by a Her­nany Macedo Mar­ques foul. Niall Quinn whipped in the free and the striker got his re­ward, head­ing in his 23rd of the sea­son.

Ste­wart rounded off his hat-trick three min­utes later. Mid­fielder Stephen Fal­lon’s flicked header opened up the space and the man of the match fired past Thomp­son.

War­ren­point’s Matthew Lynch was then sent off after pick­ing up a sec­ond book­ing for an id­i­otic tug of Michael O’Con­nor’s shirt.

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