Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Write us off at your peril, warns Linfield old boy Andy

Andy Crawford says the doom merchants will keep firing little Ballinamallard United up the Danske Bank Premiership table.

The boys from Fermanagh were expected to sink without trace while swimming with the big fish this season — but their impressive form indicates they certainly aren’t out of their depth.

The high-flying Mallards arrive at the international stadium to wrestle with a Linfield side that has started to flex its muscles after a lacklustre start.

It’s fair to say the expectation levels at Ferney Park are slightly different than those in south Belfast.

But an away win tomorrow would lift Whitey Anderson’s side six points ahead of the champions.

United striker Crawford knows all about life in the Linfield goldfish bowl as he had a spell at the club seven years ago.

But, after joining Linfield in June 2004, he left under a cloud just seven months later, joining Newry City after being placed on the transfer list by boss David Jeffrey.

Jeffrey spoke of ‘a breach of club discipline’ amid rumours that Crawford had declined to play for Linfield's reserve side.

That’s water that has long since disappeared under the bridge and the striker now has a new lease of life back in the top flight.

Now 35, Crawford is still coming to terms with the reality of being back in the big time.

“A lot of people are waiting for the Ballinamallard bubble to burst and that’s fine, we will just be determined to keep disappointing them,” said Crawford who scored three goals in his time at Linfield.

“After we lost to Crusaders, Scott Young made the comment that it was perhaps the result that could burst our bubble but after the loss to Glentoran we have won four in a row. It’s a big incentive and motivating factor for us to keep proving people wrong, but it’s understandable people thought we would struggle.

“We have just come up from the Championship and it is a big step up to this level.

“We have a good squad of players, great competition for places and Whitey believes in playing football the right way,” added Crawford. “He has given the players so much confidence and we fear no-one now.

“I’m an old hand now but I’ve been very impressed by the attitude of the young players who have been given a platform to show what they can do.

“Apart from the Glentoran game when they ran away with it in the final 20 minutes we have matched other teams. The main objective that has been hammered into us is to simply stay up and that won’t change.

“It’s Linfield’s mission to win the league but ours is very different. I think Linfield have just decided to create more interest in the league by their slow start!

“But the team spirit in our camp is fantastic and long may it continue.”

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