Ballinamallard 0-1 Linfield: Blues are ready for Crues test after win
Sean Ward's 61st minute goal saw Linfield maintain their 100% start to the season as they made it six wins in a row with victory over Ballinamallard at Ferney Park on Saturday.
The win also pushed the Blues five points clear at the top of the table and manager Warren Feeney says that they will go into next Saturday's top of the table clash against reigning champions Crusaders full of confidence.
After picking up just one point from their opening two games of the season, the Crues have now strung four wins together and have quickly re-established themselves as a major threat to the Blues' hopes of taking the Gibson Cup back into their possession.
"They are the defending champions for a reason, but all the pressure will be on them," said Feeney.
"They have won the league and it is hard defending it, so we will go there full of confidence.
"We don't care who we play, I worry about my changing room and my football club.
"At the end of the day we will go out to try and beat whoever is in front of us, no matter who it is. We'll go out in a positive mood and try to get the right result."
Linfield are also the league's top scorers, having found the net 19 times in their six games, but they also have the meanest defence too and Feeney was delighted to record another cleansheet as the Blues saw off a stubborn Ballinamallard United.
"The good thing is that we are getting clean sheets and that's a big, big thing for me; clean sheets win games," he said.
"I said to the players that I want us to attack as a team and defend as a team and I'm pleased with everyone so far."
And after struggling to break down the Mallards before Ward stepped forward from defence and riffled home a 25-yard shot into the bottom right hand corner of the net, Feeney admits that Saturday's game was all about the result.
"I said to the boys coming down that it is a lovely pitch, but it is not about a performance, it is about a result," added Feeney. "We showed how good we were last week and we came down here and it was a tough game because they sat in and it was just getting that bit of luck to break them down."
Ballinamallard manager Whitey Anderson felt his side were unfortunate to come away with nothing from the game.
"I'm disappointed we didn't get a point out of it," he said.
"We set up to play a certain way and we nullified them in the first half and tried to hit them on the counter attack and I thought it was working.
"In the second half we probably sat a wee bit deep and then Sean Ward scored the goal.
"We talked about him coming forward before the game and closing him down, but we didn't and he took a shot and it went through a ruck of players.
"I thought we were very organised throughout the game, they didn't cut us open, but at the end of the day we have nothing to show for it."
Anderson admits though that the next two games are crucial for his side.
"I think our season starts now and we really have to knuckle down," he said.
"We have Carrick Rangers and Ballymena United now and we really have to get results in those two games, which is going to be tough, but then this league is tough."
Ballinamallard United: Rouse, McMenamin, McLaughlin, Lecky (McCabe 69 mins), Friars, McKenna, Patterson (Courtney 67 mins), Martin, McCartney, McCrudden (Lafferty 45 mins), Campbell.
Subs Not Used: Crilly, Smith
Linfield: Ross Glendinning, Haughey, Lowry (Kee 79 mins), Bates, Millar (Sproule 67 mins (Quinn 89 mins), Burns, Ward, Clarke, Mulgrew, Reece Glendinning.
Subs Not Used: Deane, Hegarty.
Man of the match: Sean Ward
Match rating: 7/10
Referee: Keith Kennedy (Lisburn).