Shamrock Rovers ease past Linfield to reach last four of Setanta Cup

Game was briefly halted when flares were thrown onto the Windsor Park pitch

Linfield 1 - 3 Shamrock Rovers

Setanta Cup

Flares are thrown onto the pitch at Windsor park in Belfast. Photograph: Pacemaker Press

Date: 11 March, 2013

Venue: Windsor Park

Tue, Mar 12, 2013, 06:00

   

Shamrock Rovers have secured their place in the semi-finals of the Setanta Sports Cup but their victory against Linfield in Belfast last night, was marred by fan trouble.

The game was briefly paused when two flares were thrown onto the pitch, before both sets of fans started to goad one another from the terraces.

Missiles including what appeared to be a bottle and more flares were thrown from both sides and the red seats in Windsor’s away stand were ripped off and hurled pitch-side.

Two goals from Tommy Stewart and a third from substitute Billy Dennehy were products of a very attacking game. David Armstrong got Linfield off to a bright start when he opened the scoring on 25 minutes, heading in from close range.

Stewart’s stunning finish came on 32 minutes, after he latched onto a poor backpass and struck beautifully into the roof of the net.

Despite having the cushion of a three-goal advantage, Rovers came out of the blocks early on. Karl Sheppard keenly created chances while Stewart was out to show his former club how far he’s come, since the days of struggling to get into the Windsor Park first team.

Even without their vocal captain Pat Sullivan, missing through suspension, Rovers plugged away in the early stages.

Top striker Peter Thompson nearly opened the scoring for Linfield on 25 minutes, but his header was wide of the far post.

A minute later Armstrong made it interesting.

Flicked on initially by Philip Lowry, Armstrong followed up from two yards out, heading in behind Murphy.

While Northern Ireland police attempted to contain the antagonistic behaviour in the stands, and even forcibly removed some of the small visiting support, the game really broke out when Stewart took advantage of Quinn’s poor pass. He poked it through Armstrong’s legs and shot perfectly from over 20 yards.

Michael Carvill’s run down the left flank and perfect cross back onto the edge showed Linfield’s determination but no-one picked up his service.

Thompson’s second miss came nine minutes into the second half, after mis-hitting from close range and providing an easy save for Murphy.

Michael Gault’s cross along the face of goal almost looked as if it was going in on 64 minutes, but was just outside the far post.

Nineteen-year-old goalkeeper Ross Glendinning was forced to make a good save against Dennehy’s free kick but Stewart got the last touch on the resulting corner for his brace.

Thompson then had another great opportunity to score, but headed straight into Murphy’s path and again, Carvill knocked the clearance over the bar.

Dennehy got the best of Glendinning 10 minutes before normal time when his shot from 20 yards slipped under him.