Belfast Telegraph

Blues confident in our ability to reduce title deficit: Millar

Dungannon Sw 1 Linfield 4

Double joy: Kirk Millar celebrates his second goal of the game at Stangmore Park
Double joy: Kirk Millar celebrates his second goal of the game at Stangmore Park
Adrian Rutherford

By Adrian Rutherford

Kirk Millar believes Linfield have responded in style to the "hurt" of losing against title rivals Crusaders.

The winger scored twice as the Blues cruised to a 4-1 win at Dungannon Swifts on Saturday - four days after they knocked the same opponents out of the League Cup with an equally emphatic victory.

Millar feels the defeat to the Crues 10 days ago has been quickly put to one side.

"We were hurting after the Crusaders game - I don't think we deserved to get beaten, It was a silly mistake by myself," he said.

"But we have bounced back really well. We got into the next round in the cup and have taken an important three points today.

"It's always hard playing the same team twice in a week, but we have got two good results and it's pleasing."

Linfield boss David Healy had warned his players to expect a very different game to Tuesday, but it followed a familiar pattern.

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There was another strong start from the Blues, an early goal and some dreadful Dungannon defending.

It took just eight minutes for Andy Waterworth to open the scoring, with Joel Cooper beating two defenders in the build-up.

Waterworth then turned provider, teeing up Millar who clipped a classy effort over goalkeeper Niall Morgan.

Another mistake led to Linfield's third. Matthew Clarke stole the ball and squared to Cooper, who finished with a well-placed shot.

Millar then added a fourth from a header just before the break.

The Swifts improved in the second half, pulling a goal back through sub Daniel Hughes, but it was all too late.

Millar added: "For the first goal, I saw the goalkeeper come off his line a bit, so I tried my luck and dinked him. If he had caught it, I probably would have got taken off!

"The manager is always on to me about scoring more goals, so to get two today is pleasing."

Linfield now trail leaders Crusaders by eight points, but have three games in hand as a result of their early season European commitments.

They face another busy week, with a County Antrim Shield quarter-final against Cliftonville followed by a league clash at Ballymena United.

Millar added: "It's not good playing catch-up but it is out of our hands - that is what we have been dealt after a good run in Europe. But we know that if we get three points from all our games in hand, we'll be alright.

"We've got a big squad and players to come in if there are injuries, or anything like that, with the amount of games.

"We've got the squad to go out and produce the goods."

For Dungannon, an improved second-half performance did little to mask another hugely disappointing result.

It was the third game in a row in which they conceded four.

Boss Kris Lindsay admits they are making it too easy for opposition teams.

"You make mistakes against Linfield and you get punished," he said. "They scored four times and the game was dead.

"They didn't have to work particularly hard for their goals, which is extremely disappointing. You can't afford that against the top sides."

DUNGANNON: Morgan, Coyle (Smyth, 46 mins), Byers, King, Teggart, Clucas, Lowe, Campbell, Carvill, Patton (Gallagher, 63 mins), Noble (Hughes, 58 mins). Unused subs: Byrne, Redman, Taylor, Harwood.

LINFIELD: Ferguson, Quinn, Callacher, Stafford, Clarke, Mitchell, Fallon, Mulgrew, Millar (Allen, 87 mins), Cooper (Shevlin, 78 mins), Waterworth (Reynolds, 87 mins). Unused subs: Deane, Larkin, McGivern, Hume.

Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast)

Man of the match: Joel Cooper

Match rating: 7/10

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