Belfast Telegraph

Andy hails passion as Blues find united front

Ballymena 1-3 Linfield

By Billy Weir

Linfield captain Andy Waterworth admits that the Blues have been left red-faced by where they find themselves in the Danske Bank Premiership table at the moment.

But the green shoots of recovery are clearly in evidence as Saturday's come from behind win at Ballymena United means David Healy's side are now on an unbeaten run of four games and have climbed back to third in the table.

Waterworth scored the goal that gave Linfield the lead at Warden Street having gone in at the break trailing to a simply stunning goal of this or any other season from David Cushley from just inside his own half.

Sean Ward levelled matters with a classy finish of his own just after the break before Waterworth's strike - his 19th of the season - with a quarter of an hour to go and sprinted across the pitch with his team-mates in hot pursuit to embrace Healy.

"The manager inspired us at half-time and as a club we've come under a bit of scrutiny recently and sometimes passion just takes over on the pitch," explained Waterworth of his celebration.

"We all love the game, we all love playing and as a team we felt that if we got that goal we wouldn't look back and it felt there was a lot of passion that came out there.

"We wanted to celebrate with the coaching staff because they've been very patient with us, they've been working hard with us and we wanted to show a bit of unity."

Guy Bates' injury-time strike wrapped up the win and Waterworth felt that his side's determination and will to put things right shone through.

"We've been unfortunate in the past few weeks because results haven't gone our way even though we've been playing well, " said Waterworth.

"The gaffer said at half-time that he believed we'd win the game and he was happy with our performance, but that we needed to be a bit more urgent and clinical around the box and we did that and fair play to the boys.

"It's testing times. It's great being at Linfield when everything is going well, but the boys showed great character in turning things around and we're treating that as a fantastic three points especially with how other results went.

"As a team we were rightly getting criticism so when you're 1-0 down at Ballymena, I'm not saying it's easy to hide, but a lot of boys stepped up because as a team and a squad we realised the predicament we were in and we rose to the challenge.

"Full credit to the players and a lot of the younger ones coming through, they showed a lot of maturity and didn't give up against an experienced and tough Ballymena side and to score three goals away from home is a fantastic achievement.

"But it's only one game and we have to use it as a foundation to go into Boxing Day and the New Year and get up the table because we're in a bit of an embarrassing position at the minute."

That is certainly something Glenn Ferguson would say of his under-performing side too as they see the top seven clubs sailing off into the distance and his biggest task is trying to persuade talisman Cushley to stay at the Showgrounds once his contract runs out in the summer.

Linfield and Crusaders have already registered their interest in one of the league's most talented players, but Ferguson admitted that the winger can offer even more.

"In the current run of form that he's on, in a bigger team he wouldn't be playing and that's the bottom line," said Ferguson.

"He hasn't been consistent enough, but we aren't blessed with enough players who can go and win game for us so we have to stick by him because we know he can do things that no other player can do.

"He didn't play well, he didn't have a good game, but he worked hard and when he got that chance he certainly lit up the stadium."

Ballymena: Blayney, Ervin, Ruddy (Ferguson, 21 mins), McNally, Taylor, T Kane, Thompson, E Kane, Shevlin (Henderson, 70 mins), Jenkins, Cushley (Hanley, 63 mins). Unused subs: McVey, Taggart.

Linfield: Ross Glendinning, Haughey, Clarke, Ward, Stafford, Callacher, Millar (Frazer, 74 mins), Mulgrew, Waterworth (Bates, 88 mins) Smyth, Quinn (Burns, 81 mins). Unused subs: Kee, Reece Glendinning.

Man of the match: David Cushley

Match rating: 6/10

Referee: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown)

Belfast Telegraph


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