Belfast Telegraph

Linfield boss David Healy feels fans' wrath in early Windsor storm against Carrick Rangers

Linfield 1-1 Carrick Rangers

By Graham Luney

The hero worship of David Healy didn't last long.

The Danske Bank Premiership's profile has been lifted by the appointment of Northern Ireland legend Healy as Linfield boss but the Blues fans simply want their team to start looking like convincing title challengers.

This performance against Carrick Rangers sparked painful memories of last season.

There was a lack of ruthlessness and conviction and the fans, who did not like what they were watching, conveyed their anger to the players and manager.

In his programme notes Healy remarked: "I believe that the Windsor Park stadium and crowd can inspire players and I know I can rely on our supporters to get behind all of our players today to drive them on to try and achieve the result we all want in this vitally important league game."

Linfield fans will not be patient as they have watched the big prizes slip from their grasp for three years and they now expect the players to stand up and be counted. They expect to be given something to shout about.

"The crowd started to turn on myself and the players but that's part and parcel of the game," said former Rangers frontman Healy after the 1-1 draw which was only a few minutes away from being a defeat for Linfield. "It's a cliche but goals change games and we didn't convert our chances. Fair play to Carrick, they were organised, worked hard and made it difficult for us.

"Thankfully, we got a point and are still top of the table but trophies aren't handed out at this stage and although this is a disappointing result I'm still relishing the challenge here. I want to win every cup and game as well and that's the standards I set for myself.

"It must be the same for the players and they must know it will be tough as the fans will be critical when you aren't playing well. It's tough love for us and we have to find a way to win football matches.

"I've been booed off the pitch here and I understand the demands of this club. We need more mental toughness from the players to deal with that. The quality we are showing in training must be taken into games as we were lacklustre against Carrick."

Rangers, a side whose number one objective is Premiership survival, could have won this battle and the Blues, who welcome Cliftonville to Windsor in the County Antrim Shield tomorrow night, must not let one disappointing display dent confidence.

Gary Haveron's men produced an inspired display with keeper Brian Neeson spectacularly foiling Aaron Burns twice, once from the penalty spot after Aaron Traynor had felled Andy Waterworth.

Carrick started to believe they could snatch something and after Joe McNeill's effort slipped the top of the crossbar Miguel Chines fired home from the penalty spot on 66 minutes after Matthew Clarke had tripped the striker.

The Blues equaliser came in the 85th minute when Burns slotted the ball home after a clever pass from Jamie Mulgrew, but Linfield almost conceded again as Chris Hegarty made a goal line clearance to deny Conor McCloskey.

Haveron said: "Linfield didn't create too much other than the two Aaron Burns chances and I wouldn't swap our keeper for anybody. Teams come here and are negative but we weren't. We were sitting deep for their goal but it was a great finish by Aaron.

"We could have scored four goals and nobody would have complained. I can't be overly critical of our guys, they have been unfortunate in games but we have been missing players and this is a great point for us."

Carrick, who are at home to H&W Welders in the Shield tomorrow night, have something to build on, Linfield can't afford too many bad days at the office like this one.

Belfast Telegraph


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