Hard-fought victory may prove decisive, insists Linfield boss David Healy
Linfield boss David Healy insists his team's 2-1 win over Ballinamallard United at Windsor Park on Thursday night could turn out to be key.
Even though the Blues' performance was littered with nerves and mistakes, they managed to claim three crucial points, inching them to within two points of current Danske Bank Premiership champions and table toppers Crusaders.
Striker Andy Waterworth hit an early opener that was cancelled out by an Adam Lecky strike. It took an own goal from rookie defender Ryan Morris to win it for Healy's team, who haven't had their hands on the Gibson Cup since 2012.
"Results like that sometimes help you go on and win titles," beamed Healy afterwards. "Hopefully, it's the three points we can reflect on at the end of the season that can be classed as a significant win.
"Every team fights for their lives when they play Linfield, and Ballinamallard epitomised that. They'll be feeling hard done by. We were nervous - I was nervous. There is less pressure when you are 12 points behind.
"The pressure is on for every game. The players certainly felt it and the crowd were anxious.
"The boys dug in. It was a game we probably would have lost earlier this season."
Mallards boss Whitey Anderson felt his team had their pockets picked. He said: "I used the word gutted after our last-minute defeat at Glenavon at the weekend, but I'm actually worse after this result.
"We rode out the storm after the first 25 minutes, but after that I thought we were the better side. Linfield didn't cause us any concern in the second-half.
"I can't praise the players enough, they were excellent. We just had no luck. Stephen O'Flynn missed a great chance to level before he hit the post."
Anderson had a word of comfort for 18-year-old Morris after only his second appearance.
He added: "To concede again just seconds after getting an equaliser was criminal. Two of our players went for the ball, letting Kirk Millar go free.
"I'm not blaming Morris, he is only a cub. It was his second first-team game. He was outstanding. Apparently the stats revealed we had more shots on target than Linfield. We were just unlucky."