Only title joy would eclipse feeling of netting 100 Linfield goals: Andy
Linfield 5 Ards 1
Andy Waterworth bagged his 100th goal for Linfield - and admitted the title challenge is still burning.
The 30-year-old was given a great ovation by the Blues faithful after this 5-1 demolition of Ards at Windsor Park.
He was joined on the scoresheet by Cameron Stewart, Kirk Millar, Stephen Lowry and Aaron Burns as David Healy's boys closed the gap to four points on table-topping Crusaders.
Although striker Guillaume Keke had the audacity to cancel out Stewart's opener, Colin Nixon's troops never appeared capable of ending a horrible 31-year hoodoo of not winning at the international venue.
Indeed, it was a day of landmarks because Burns' strike was the Blues' 100th goal of the season.
"It was a very proud moment for me to score 100 goals for this famous club," beamed Waterworth. "It was a great feeling when the ball hit the net - and the fans gave me a great ovation.
"It's great to get back-to-back wins at Windsor Park in the space of a few days. Questions had been asked of our home form, but I think we have now answered those questions with our recent performances.
"We have one game at Ballinamallard before the split - every match is now massive. I suppose the only thing that would top my 100th goal would be pinching the league from under the noses of Crusaders. They are still in pole, but hopefully we can take it to the wire.
"I don't think there is added pressure on me to score. I think we proved that as we had five different goalscorers.
"To be successful, you need to have goalscorers all over the team. We showed we have that in abundance.
"When you see boys like Kirk (Millar) and Burnsie (Aaron Burns) coming on (from the bench) and making an impact by putting the ball in the net, it shows what the squad is about.
"There are goals in this team, we are a good side. Sometimes we can be very critical of ourselves, but we aim to keep driving on and hopefully put in a big finish to the season.
"It was nice to reach the landmark, but it was also great to close the gap on Crusaders for a short time at least. It's now over to them."
Ards boss Colin Nixon admitted his boys froze and were perhaps fortunate to get away having conceded only five goals.
"We conceded bad goals at critical times," he said. "Our performances haven't been all that bad of late, but we gave away too many sloppy goals.
"We lay down too easily in the second half which was disappointing - we didn't do enough over the 90 minutes. We are still not safe in terms of being pulled into the relegation play-off place.
"Carrick have now pulled three points back on us and there has been a big shift in the goal difference. It's going to be a battle right to the end. We now face a difficult game against Glenavon which I feel we have to get something from."
LINFIELD: Carroll, Stafford, Stewart (Millar, 17 mins), Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth, Lowry, Clarke, Mulgrew (Carson, 72 mins), Quinn, Smyth (Burns, 72 mins). Unused subs: Ward, Casement.
ARDS: Hogg, Hall, Ruddy, Taylor, Friars, Tommons, Doherty (McMillen, 68 mins), McCullough (Cherry, 42 mins), McAllister, McComb (Liggett, 61 mins), Keke. Unused subs: Byers, Shevlin.
Referee: Steven Clarke (Ballyclare)
Man of the match: Paul Smyth
Match rating: 7/10