Institute pay the penalty as Linfield secure the points

Linfield's Basiten Hery celebrates scoring against Institute.
Linfield's Basiten Hery celebrates scoring against Institute.

Institute 0, Linfield 3

Institute manager Sean Connor was frustrated following their home loss to champions Linfield, at a bitterly cold Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.

Referee Raymond Crangle dismisses Institute's protests.

Referee Raymond Crangle dismisses Institute's protests.

Connor was annoyed by referee Raymond Crangle's display, which saw the Belfast official award three Linfield penalties and also sent-off 'Stute defender Ryan Morrow. In fact the former Sligo Rovers gaffer didn't want to discuss the penalty decisions.

“I’ve managed Sligo Rovers and I’ve managed Bohemians and there’s a definite difference if you’re a big club when it comes to decisions going for you," he stated.

“I don’t even want to talk about them. It was stupid. S-T-U-P-I-D. You even heard their fans at the end singing ‘Raymond Crangle, he’s one of our own’ - he must have a season ticket. I’d check that out.

“That’s not a defeat. The belief system and the standards that we set were all there.

"That’s a game that we can chalk off to experience. If we play like that every week, then we don’t have a problem."

As for Blues boss David Healy he admitted his side weren't at their best, but he was happy that they secured three points.

“Every Saturday we play it’s important to get three points, whether we lost on Monday or won," he explained.

"It’s important that we got back to the bread and butter and thankfully we did that today - it’s a big three points.

"It’s important when you play early on a Saturday that we do our job because you don’t want to be giving other teams a lift going out at three o’clock knowing we haven’t done the business. It was important we did our job and let other teams worry about themselves.”

The score-line didn't reflect the champions performance, who in truth didn't play well and but for some important saves in the second half from goalkeeper Rohan Ferguson, things might have been a little bit more uncomfortable for the Blues.

The visitors made two changes to their side which lost to Dundalk on Monday evening, with Mark Stafford and Joel Cooper replacing Joshua Robinson, who was amongst the substitutes and Jamie Mulgrew, wasn't in the squad.

Connor kept faith with the same side that picked up two hard fought draws against Crusaders and Glentoran, as he selected the same team for the third week running.

David Healy's men were forced into making a change on 18 minutes after Aidan McCauley's tough tackle on Niall Quinn, resulted in the Blues' man being substituted by Andrew Mitchell.

'Stute went close themselves just after the mid-way point of the half as McCauley's 25 yard drive, was easily kept out by a diving Ferguson.

Linfield missed a super chance to take the lead in what was controversial circumstances on 35 minutes after Joel Cooper seemed to go over rather easily after Ryan Morrow's challenge seemed to barely touch the winger inside the box, however Crangle, very quickly pointed to the spot.

The home side will feel justice was done as Cooper’s resulting penalty was superbly kept out by Brown, who dived to his left to save.

Amazingly the Belfast men were awarded a second penalty on 39 minutes after Morrow clashed with Jimmy Callacher off the ball incident the box, the ’Stute right-back was given a straight red card for the incident.

After the protests were waved away this time Waterworth made no mistake from 12 yards, with a panenka style penalty, giving the diving Brown, no chance.

With a man advantage Linfield added a second right on the stroke of half-time, as ex-Waterford midfielder Basiten Hery, created himself some space on the edge of the box, before blasting the ball in off the post.

To their credit the ten men went close to pulling a goal back on 52 minutes as McCauley's free-kick was headed goal-wards by Joe McCready, but Ferguson did well to tip the effort over the bar.

Linfield went straight up the other end as Chris Casement saw his right wing cross find an unmarked Waterworth, but his close range strike was straight at Brown.

Ferguson was called into action on 66 minutes when McCready did well to find some room on the edge of the box, before seeing his curling strike outstandingly tipped around his left hand post by the Linfield keeper.

Not for the first time in the game Ferguson denied McCready, as the Blues net-minder tipped over the striker's 20 yard curling free-kick.

On 84 minutes Casement was inches away from adding, what would have been an undeserved third goal for the Linfield, as Cooper's left wing cross picked out the right-back at the back post, but he headed just wide from close range.

Six minutes later a Millar left wing free-kick was whipped into the box and Mark Stafford's header, which had Brown beaten, came back off the post.

Linfield were awarded their third spot-kick deep into stoppage time as Cooper was brought down inside the box by Graham Crown and Waterworth slotted home his second from the spot, firing into Brown’s right hand corner.

Institute: R Brown, Morrow, Crown, Tourish, Curry; Bradley (McNamee 56), Grace, McCauley (Stephenson 80), Bradley; G Brown, McCready.

Linfield: Ferguson, Casement, Stafford, Callacher, Clarke; Fallon, Hery (Allen 74); Millar, Cooper, Quinn (Mitchell 18); Waterworth.

Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast).