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Dundalk draw with Linfield in...
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Dundalk draw with Linfield in first leg of Unite the Union Champions Cup

Jake O'Donnell
Jake O'Donnell

09:57 8 Nov 2019

It is all to play for in the second leg of the Unite the Union Champions Cup after a slow tempo 1-1 draw between Dundalk and Linfield at Windsor Park. 

The game was the first of two in a new cross-border tournament which sets the champions of the SSE Airtricity League and the champions of the Danske Bank Premiership against each other in a two-legged match.

Dundalk looked the most likely to find a winner late on as they prodded the Northern Irish club's defence but there was no late drama in store for the 2,819-strong crowd.

Dundalk made a number of changes to the team that lost the FAI Cup final to Shamrock Rovers last Sunday, with Chris Shields returning to the starting line-up and Michael Duffy, Robbie Benson, Dane Massey and Brian Gartland all being moved to the bench.

The much-changed side started slow and it was Linfield who took the lead after just eight minutes when captain Jamie Mulgrew slipped a pass into 20-year-old Shayne Lavery.

Dundalk Daniel Kelly of Dundalk celebrates with team-mates after scoring his side's first goal during the Unite the Union Champions Cup first leg match between Linfield and Dundalk at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. 

Lavery, formerly on the books at Everton, had been named in the Northern Ireland squad this week and looked full on confidence when he took Mulgrew's pass and burst into the box before firing a shot into the bottom left corner.

That is how the first half ended with the match looking laboured at times and Dundalk showing the signs of a team at the end of a long domestic season.

The League of Ireland champions were much improved in the second half, however, with Daniel Kelly nabbing a well-taken equaliser on 50 minutes.

Dean Jarvis was the creator with his pass unleashing the former Bohemians man through on goal but with a defender at his heels.

The trailing defender couldn't get goalside though, allowing Kelly to control and slot the ball into the bottom left corner past the out-surging Gareth Deane in goal.

The second leg between the two sides will take place at Oriel Park on Monday night.

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