HE’S EXTRA JORDINARY
Super Stewart’s treble keeps Blues on track
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.