Irish Premiership: Ballymena Utd 1-4 Linfield

Leaders Linfield too strong for Ballymena

Linfield restored their four-point lead at the top of the Premiership with an ultimately convincing at Ballymena.

Matthew Tipton followed up to fire home after Dwayne Nelson spilled the ball on four minutes and Andy Waterworth lifted the ball over Nelson to score on 38.

David Cushley rifled home a low left-foot volley a minute after the break but Billy Joe Burns headed in from Waterworth's right-wing cross after 60.

Aaron Burns' deflected shot found the top corner of the net on 67 minutes.

The game began in dramatic fashion when the home goalkeeper failed to hold onto Billy Joe Burns's initial shot and Tipton was quickest to react by shooting home.

Nelson received lengthy treatment for a suspected broken jaw after clashing with Tipton as the forward shot home.

Andy Waterworth
Andy Waterwoth lobbed Dwayne Nelson for Linfield's second

United spurned several chances to equalise, Gary Liggett firing just over and Gary Thompson missing a great chance after latching onto a loose ball inside the area.

Waterworth coolly converted the second and then Thompson's right-foot drive was denied by a fine save from Jonny Tuffey.

Just before half-time, Niall Quinn saw his goal-bound left-foot free-kick spectacularly tipped round the post by Nelson.

Ballymena began the second period in lively fashion and Cushley took advantage of Sean Ward's poor headed clearance by dispatching a low shot into the net.

Cushley forced Tuffey into another fine stop soon after, while Tony Kane headed just wide when well placed.

Aaron Burns fizzed a left-foot effort over the bar, then at the other end, Gary Liggett's glancing header flew inches off target.

Waterworth's cross provided Billy Joe Burns with the simple task of converting a free header from four yards out to ease the pressure on the visitors.

Aaron Burns got in on the act by grabbing the fourth and the midfielder, making his 100th appearance for the Blues, also struck the woodwork in the latter stages.

United skipper Allan Jenkins was denied by the legs of Tuffey as the hosts pushed for a consolation goal.

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