Belfast Telegraph

Blues will never wave white flag in race for top prize, warns Haughey

Dungannon Swifts 1 - Linfield 4

By David Mason

Mark Haughey doffed his cap in the direction of Crusaders, but warned them that Linfield are in the title race for the long haul.

After yet another impressive victory, this time over Dungannon Swifts at Stangmore Park, it was a case of deja vu for David Healy's boys when they realised that the title holders had maintained their seven-point lead at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership table, courtesy of a narrow win over Glenavon.

With games rapidly running out, things are becoming increasingly difficult for the Blues and Haughey admitted there is a degree of frustration creeping in.

"It can be slightly frustrating, but we just have to look after ourselves and what we do," said the big defender.

"There is still a lot of football to be played and all we can do is win our games and then look to see how they've (Crusaders) got on. We'll not be giving it up."

It was Haughey who got the party started at Stangmore Park, heading in a Stephen Lowry free-kick. Although the Swifts levelled before the break through Ally Teggart, goals from Andy Waterworth, Cameron Stewart and Jimmy Callacher ensured Linfield would maintain the pressure at the top.

It means that Haughey, Callacher and Mark Stafford have now chipped in with a staggering 20 goals between them this season.

"It's something we're working on in training," said Haughey. "With the goals we get from set-piece situations, it is paying off.

"Everyone is chipping in - myself, Mark and Jimmy. That was my seventh, the same as Jimmy, while Mark has hit six. It's a real strength we have.

"We are three centre-backs, so with me playing out on the right, I probably naturally tuck in a bit and Staff probably prefers that. We try to get the ball down and play, try to score the right way, but set-pieces are massive for us and, no matter how the ball ends up in the net, we'll take it."

The Blues, however, failed to build on Haughey's opener and it took a few harsh words from Healy at half-time to spark them into life. Haughey added: "Everybody knew we weren't up to our own standards in the first half and we came in at half-time and had a good chat.

"We regrouped and got two quick goals which showed the character and winning mentality we have. From then on we managed the game well. It was a good win before we go into two big games next week - Institute in the Irish Cup and Crusaders in the Shield final a few days later."

Swifts manager Rodney McAree said his team "capitulated" in the second half.

"We made it difficult for Linfield for 45 minutes, but that's not good enough," he moaned. "We didn't do enough in the second half, presenting them with three goals. It's so disappointing - we basically capitulated.

"I was happy and confident at half-time. We had control of the ball and got into good areas. I thought we still had a little bit more to give.

"But to give away three goals in the manner we did made it impossible for us to get anything out of the game."

Dungannon: Coleman, Burns (McElroy, 71 mins), Armstrong, Hegarty (Burke, 56 mins), O'Rourke, Glackin, Harpur, Wilson, Clucas, Teggart, Mitchell (McMahon, 56 mins). Unused subs: Addis, Lowe.

Linfield: Carroll, Stafford, Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth (Amuneke, 80 mins), Lowry, Burns (Stewart, 33 mins), Ward, Clarke, Fallon, Gaynor (Carson, 71 mins). Unused subs: Millar, Casement.

Referee: Ross Dunlop (Carrickfergus)

Man of the match: Mark Haughey

Match rating: 7/10




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