Belfast Telegraph

Linfield's Burns fires Blues' chances

Aaron says Linfield will be hard to stop after deadly double helps anniahilate sorry Swifts

By David Mason

Goal hero Aaron Burns has labelled anyone who writes off Linfield's title chances as crazy.

The 22-year-old deservedly walked off with the man of the match award following his performance against relegation-threatened Dungannon Swifts at Windsor Park.

The Banbridge man roared to the top of the Blues' goal charts by bagging a brace - taking his tally to nine for the season - with Andy Waterworth and substitute Ivan Sproule getting in on the act against a team that has now failed to win any of their last 13 Danske Bank Premiership games.

Burns then warned that Linfield are 'in it to win it' in terms of the push for the Gibson Cup.

"It's developing into a really tight race," said Burns. "It's weird in many ways, there's only a couple of points separating the top four or five teams. I think it will stay like that until February or March. It will then be down to whatever team wants it more.

"We've already been written off in some quarters, but to say a Linfield team isn't capable of winning the league title is crazy. We have a great squad and the gaffer (Warren Feeney) may well add another one or two in January.

"With the strikeforce we have and the goals we have in us, we'll be hard to stop.

"We have got as good a chance as any team up there at the minute. I know the fans are right behind us, but I just think they need to be patient at times. Sometimes they become frustrated with us, but we are trying our best.

"We want to do well for the fans and for the club. We honestly believe we'll not be far away at the end of the league campaign."

It was Burns who got the Blues on their way, blasting home the opening goal after a sizzling 30-yard solo dash. He then laid on a second for Waterworth just before the break.

Burns struck again within four minutes of the restart, drilling home a sublime Ross Clarke cross.

Clarke then set up the fourth for Sproule when, despite the impressive winger losing both boots in a rampaging attack, he still managed to thread a perfect pass for the former international to finish with a cheeky lob.

"There were definitely a few candidates for the man of the match award," added Burns. "Sammy Morrow had a fantastic game, even though he didn't score. Stephen Lowry and Jamie Mulgrew were great in the middle of the park and Ross was tremendous.

"It was a great performance by everyone, but getting the three points was the most important thing. We were getting a little bit frustrated after 35 minutes or so. Our final pass became a little bit sloppy. But we settled down once we made the breakthrough.

"I think it was Quinnie (Niall Quinn) who played the ball in to me for my opener. The defence just seemed to open up and I just kept going. Once I reached the edge of the box I just tried my luck and thankfully it went in.

"Andy's goal was a great team effort. Quinnie and Sammy Morrow were involved in the build-up. I managed to play it back in for Andy and he finished it well. I think Dungannon's heads dropped after that one.

"The gaffer told us at half time we must go out and do the same again. Once I got the third, from a great ball by Ross, we started to play the way we can.

"I thought I was on for a hat-trick late on, but Francis Brennan managed to block my shot on the line. It would have been nice."

Swifts manager Darren Murphy pulled no punches in his post-match assessment, accusing his boys of lacking fight and desire.

"My players can't keep thinking they are a good side," he said. "When you sit second bottom in the table with a total of nine points from 16 games, it's hardly the stats of a good side.

"To a man, they have either to roll up their sleeves to get us out of this mess, or they can be even more of a man and come and knock my door to tell me they haven't the stomach for this battle.

"That's the options you have as a player. But to go out onto the pitch and attempt to hide, you are only kidding yourself and the club.

"We were OK for the first 38 minutes, but once the first goal went in we folded. Take nothing away from Linfield, they were exceptional.

"But we simply lack fight and that's the bottom line. As a manager I'm confident we can get away from the bottom of the table, but the players must also buy into my ambitions, that's the problem."

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