Belfast Telegraph

We'll fight to the bitter end, says Blues boss Healy

Coleraine 2-3 Linfield

By Keith Thomas

Linfield's sensational comeback from two goals down at Coleraine leaves manager David Healy in no doubt that his team will chase champions Crusaders all the way down to the wire in the battle for the Danske Bank Premiership title.

Still seven points adrift having played one game more than the league leaders, Healy insists the fight will go on.

"People like to write us off and ask questions about our team," he said. "They think we get everything and all the decisions but we don't. We have to work just as hard - if not harder - than everyone else in this league."

After watching defender Mark Haughey head two second-half goals to complete their version of the Great Escape, Healy added: "Everybody outside this club wants to see Linfield beaten and dropping points. That's the siege mentality we face but we are still in there fighting.

"It's going to be tough for the rest of the season but we are not going to give it up."

Midfielder Aaron Burns kick-started the revival towards the end of the first-half. He marked his 200th appearance for the Blues with his 60th goal to extend their unbeaten run over the Bannsiders to 11 games.

Burns, who has just signed a two-year extension to his contract at Windsor Park, admitted defeat at Portadown last time out was a setback but added: "We demonstrated our resilience by coming from two down to get the win.

"The pitch was in a terrible state and we didn't start well but we didn't let that stop us. The secret to success was the quality of passes from wide areas. When you get such a quality of service it is not difficult to score."

Haughey's aerial ability was another key feature in closing out the result and Burns added: "He is a big presence and hard to handle.

"When he gets an eye on the ball it is tough trying to stop him."

Defender Ross Gaynor tested the Coleraine defence all afternoon on a muddy, uneven Showgrounds surface. Burns met his corner to head a vital goal before the break, handing the Blues hope after they had gone two down inside 15 minutes.

Ian Parkhill had put Coleraine ahead early on before Brad Lyons' 30-yard blockbuster put the Bannsiders in dreamland.

But Burns' goal launched Linfield on the road to recovery and Haughey weighed in with two headers to end his personal four-month goal famine.

Home manager Oran Kearney was angry that his team was undone by set-pieces after specifically pinpointing the Blues' strengths in that area.

"We talked about it before the game so I'm not happy at the manner in which we conceded the goals," he said.

"When you go 2-0 up at home you expect to have enough to see the game through."

Kearney admitted James McLaughlin's miss before Burns scored was pivotal and added: "If he had found the net I think it would have had a massive impact overall but it didn't happen and we threw it away after that."

Belfast Telegraph


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