Matthew Fitzpatrick on target as Linfield sweep aside Glentoran in Belfast derby

The former Antrim forward is starting to find his scoring form for the Blues

Linfield's Matthew Fitzpatrick takes the congratulations of his manager David Healy after scoring in the victory over Glentoran Picture: David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press (David Maginnis/David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press)

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Linfield 2 Glentoran 0

MATTHEW FITZPATRICK made up for lost time as Linfield heaped more Boxing Day misery on Big Two rivals Glentoran to maintain their slender lead at the top of the table.

Goals from defender Ben Hall and former Antrim GAA star Fitzpatrick ensured David Healy’s men go into the top-of-the-table clash with Larne on Saturday brimming with confidence, as the Glens’ record of never winning at Windsor Park on Boxing Day continued.

There were just under 10,000 fans in attendance as Healy’s troops delivered a Christmas cracker, less than a month after Glens boss Warren Feeney masterminded a 4-0 humiliation over his former club.

Rhys Annett saw a first-half penalty brilliantly saved by Aaron McCary before Ben Hall opened the scoring before the break, with Fitzpatrick bagging his fifth goal of the season to put the game beyond any doubt.

“It’s about time, it’ been a frustrating couple of weeks for me personally,” said Fitzpatrick.

“We’ve had some good results but for me to get on the scoresheet is brilliant, especially in such a big game and I help the team get the win.

“We didn’t do ourselves justice at the Oval but it was about putting our own performance right and I feel we did that.

“It’s a big occasion but I want to score every week whether there are 10 people there or 10,000.

“I had a chance in the first half which I cut back waiting on Coops [Joel Cooper] and I probably could have shot. At half-time the gaffer told me to trust myself and shoot when I get into those areas and that was the one thing on my mind when I got my chance - I didn’t want him shouting at me again!

“It’s been tough, because as a forward you always want to score goals and people from the outside looking in might be saying I’ve only scored five goals. It is annoying but playing my role for the team is important, too.

“It’s frustrating because I’m in the team to score goals and I want to score more, but as long as I’m in the team I’m doing something right.”

Glentoran offered precious little going forward, but they were boosted by McCarey’s spot-kick redemption just before the half hour. The keeper spilled Kirk Millar’s corner and Annett nipped in ahead of the keeper, who wiped his feet from under him.

Referee Jamie Robinson pointed straight to the spot and after scoring four goals in his last three games, Annett confidently claimed the ball and responsibility, only for McCarey to make up for his rush of blood, diving to his right to pull off a superb save to keep the Glens level.

But the Blues broke the deadlock nine minutes before the interval. Millar’s free-kick from the right was met by Hall, and the towering centre-back powered a downward header past McCarey before the keeper could react.

Linfield were even more dominant after the break and Daniel Finlayson saw his header cannon off the post, before Matthew Clarke was denied by McCarey a minute later.

The otherwise anonymous Shay McCartan headed wide when well placed for the Glens, but with 59 minutes on the clock, Fitzpatrick sealed the deal.

Kyle McClean picked out Fitzpatrick with a delightful ball and the ex-Glenavon striker composed himself before picking his spot in the far corner.

It was a clinical strike from the summer signing, who has found goals hard to come by - but his fifth goal of the campaign was his biggest yet.

Linfield Johns, Finlayson, East, Millar, McClean, Cooper (Archer 70), Hall, Clarke, Mulgrew, Fitzpatrick (McKee 87) Annett (McBrien 66)

Subs not used Walsh, Newberry, Doherty, Graham.

Glentoran McCarey, McCullough, Burns (Murray 86), McCartan (R Donelly 72), O’Connor Feeney 72), Sule, Fisher (Junior 56), McClean, Russell, Wightman, McGinn Kane 72)

Subs not used Webber, Kelly

Referee Jamie Robinson