Glenn Ferguson's first game in charge of Ballymena United ended in defeat as Linfield edged victory to extend their Premiership lead to seven points.
Peter Thompson put the Blues ahead on 12 after a Mark McAllister pass.
Ballymena levelled eight minutes later as Allen Jenkins ran unchallenged from halfway to fire past Stuart Addis.
Linfield's 48th-minute winner had a degree of good fortune as McAllister's back-heel deflected off Ballymena defender Davy Munster.
There was a degree of confusion about the winner with Thompson appearing to get the final touch although he said after the game that "even I wouldn't claim that goal".
Blues boss David Jeffrey recalled Rory Patterson with the former Coleraine striker forming a three-pronged attack alongside Thompson and McAllister.
After a low-key opening, the Blues took the lead on 12 minutes as McAllister ran on to a through ball and squared to an unmarked Thompson who prodded into the empty net.
The goal increased the home defence's nerves and Wayne Drummond did well to save from Aaron Burns in the 17th minute - although the Blues player didn't get full purchase on his shot.
However, Ballymena were on terms three minutes later as Jenkins was allowed to run unchallenged from halfway and fire past Addis from 25 yards after a Gary McCutcheon flick-on.
After the burst of activity, there was a comparative lull in the remainder of the first half although Drummond had to move smartly to gather after Aaron Burns had threatened to outpace the Ballymena pace.
Linfield's winner came three minutes after the break although it appeared a tad fortunate.
The Ballymena defence only half-cleared Addis' free-kick from the Linfield half and McAllister's back-heel deflected off Munster and into the net past Drummond.
Rory Patterson's struggles since his return to the Irish League continued as he was withdrawn midway through the second period.
Philip Lowry looked set to fire in a third Linfield goal 13 minutes from time but Ross Black produced a perfectly timed tackle to dispossess the Blues midfielder in the penalty area.
Ballymena forced a couple of late corners but in truth the home side rarely threatened to equaliser.
Linfield were also far from their best but with Glentoran holding Portadown, the Blues win extended their advantage at the top of the table to seven points.