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Striker Waterworth at the double for Blues

Linfield 3 Carrick Rangers 0

By David Mason

Andy Waterworth is playing with a smile on his face again!

The Linfield striker, who couldn't buy a goal earlier in the season, has now found the net on 12 occasions - and there's more to come!

His deadly double strike condemned Carrick Rangers to their 13th defeat of the Danske Bank Premiership campaign, but more importantly, inched the Blues to within five points of Crusaders at the top of the table.

Mark Stafford headed a third in what became a procession until referee Ross Dunlop ended the Rangers' agony with the final blast of his whistle.

It could have been an even better day for David Healy's Blues, until news filtered through that Crusaders had once again produced a late party piece to salvage a point against Glentoran across town at Seaview.

However, Waterworth admitted he is concerned only about his own team's results.

"In all honesty, if we waited on the Crues score every week, our heads would be away," he said. "They seem to have a good winning mentality. But we are looking after ourselves.

"I know it's an old cliche, but that's the way it is. We must make sure we keep racking up the points, regardless of what is happening on the other side of town."

Waterworth is now back in the groove, doing what he does best - putting the ball in the net. He added: "When you get into a little run of goals, the ball tends to fall for you. That wasn't happening earlier in the season, so I'll take them all day long."

His opening strike was a classic, drilling the ball low into the bottom corner after being sent through the middle by a delicious pass from Stephen Lowry.

"I like to play on the shoulder of defenders," added Waterworth. "When Stephen gets possession, he knows what I want - he knows where to put the ball.

"The weight of his pass was brilliant. I took the shot early. I just tried to keep my composure. It was an important goal because it got us up and running."

Rangers boss Aaron Callaghan had no complaints. He said: "Our season will not be determined on results against Linfield. We have to make sure we take points off the teams in and around us in the league table.

"We were also down a few lads who we have on loan from Linfield and we couldn't play them - Adam Salley, TJ Murray and Seanna Foster. We also had a few out injured."

LINFIELD: Carroll, Stafford, Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth, Lowry, Millar, Ward, Mulgrew (Frazer, 74 mins), Quinn (Clarke, 84 mins), Smyth (Burns, 85 mins). Unused subs: Casement, Gaynor.

CARRICK: Neeson, Chapman, McCullough, Surgenor, McNally, Hanley (Green, 46 mins), Rice, Wilson, Kelly, Morrow (Taggart, 62 mins), McNicholl (Lavery, 71 mins). Unused subs: McCaul, Knox.

Referee: Ross Dunlop (Carrickfergus)

Man of the match: Andy Waterworth

Match rating: 6/10

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