Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Jeffrey is happy to make his point

Linfield missed a golden opportunity to give themselves the chance of topping the JJB Sports Premiership table at New Year.

Manager David Jeffrey, however, ignored goings on elsewhere to toast a point gained by his side rather than two dropped in a tense and intriguing title race.

With league leaders Glentoran losing at home to Ballymena United, a win for the Blues at Lisburn Distillery would have cut the east-Belfast side’s lead to just three points going into Boxing Day’s Big Two clash at Windsor Park.

And while that would have handed Jeffrey’s men the incentive of moving to the top of the pile, he insists anything gained against the Whites is well earned.

“Regardless of what would have happened elsewhere, to get a point I was more than happy with,” said Jeffrey after the Ballyskeagh stalemate.

“I obviously wanted all three, but you look logically at things, Distillery held Glentoran to a draw a couple of weeks ago, they are on a real buzz, they are in the semi-finals of the Co-operative Insurance Cup so this was going to be tough enough.

“We are sitting with a clatter of injuries, let’s go and obviously have a crack, it wasn’t that we came and sat back and certainly second-half we had a right go at them. We played some great stuff and I think that we maybe did enough just to win it, but overall I am very pleased.

“I thought first-half that it was fairly even-stevens, probably Distillery edged it a little bit first-half and the facts were that I thought Alan Mannus had more to do than Philip Matthews.”

Not quite the White Christmas that Distillery manager Paul Kirk was perhaps looking forward to.

Had his team taken all three points they would have moved above Linfield in the standings, but like his Blues counterpart Jeffrey Kirk was also happy with the draw, which ultimately saw both teams edge a point closer to the leaders Glentoran.

“I am happy with a point” said Kirk afterwards.

“Although I thought that we were the better side in the first-half, in the second-half they came out a different kettle of fish, a different attitude to the game, pushed hard at us and won more second ball than we did.

“They didn’t let us settle on the ball, but having said all that Philip Matthews had only two saves to make in the second- half, one from Michael Carvill and one with his feet inside the box.

“Mind you I don’t remember their goalkeeper making many saves either.

“In the first half I would have been looking three points but then in the second half when you look at what Linfield have done in the second-half you hold your hands up and say they were the better side second half, so points shared was good enough for me especially when you look at the result at The Oval and the fact that our next match is a home match.

“I am not saying that’s a guarantee, its not, it’s a difficult game, but it’s a home game when Linfield take on Glentoran.

“We have pulled a point back on Glentoran and we can pull another one or three back if we can get a win and that’s the priority.”