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Linfield 5-1 Dungannon: Leading role has Andy Waterworth in top gear


Back of net: Linfield skipper Andy Waterworth celebrates sealing his treble

Back of net: Linfield skipper Andy Waterworth celebrates sealing his treble

©William Cherry / Presseye

Back of net: Linfield skipper Andy Waterworth celebrates sealing his treble

Andy Waterworth has vowed he won't be burdened by the challenge of leading Linfield this season.

The striker has been handed the captain's armband by manager Warren Feeney.

And it's so far, so good for the 29-year-old, with the Blues setting the pace in the Danske Bank Premiership.

The latest win came against Dungannon Swifts, with Waterworth hitting a second half hat-trick to secure the points.

Although well used to the pressure of scoring goals, the task of leading from the front can be a daunting one.

However, Waterworth says he is enjoying the responsibility that comes with being captain.

"It's not a burden - not at all. I've relished it," he said.

"I never really saw myself as a captain. The gaffer hasn't officially announced me as captain but he pulled me over during pre-season.

"He said I'd be captain for the first couple of games in Europe and I've enjoyed it. It's been a great honour.

"I understand the prestige that comes with captaining Linfield, but I think it's spurred me on at times when I've been playing poorly.

"It's not that much different. If you lead by example on the pitch with your performances it can see you through.

"I've felt very honoured getting it but I don't know what the future holds and whether the captaincy is mine to keep."

Waterworth departed to a standing ovation after his treble on Saturday, yet it had been far from an easy afternoon.

A game high on drama and incident finished with a manager finding more positives in defeat than the one whose side ran out 5-1 winners.

For an hour Dungannon were the better side, outplaying Linfield with their enterprising brand of slick, confident passing.

But a moment of rashness from one of their more experienced players turned the game.

David Armstrong, who minutes earlier had cancelled out Aaron Burns's opener, was booked twice in the space of five minutes.

Down to 10 men, Swifts ran out of steam, with Waterworth plundering a 31-minute hat-trick.

He put Linfield back in front with a shot on the turn.

But it was only in the final eight minutes that the Blues really made their man advantage count. Waterworth made it 3-1 with a tap-in at the back post, before completing his hat-trick with a simple header.

Sub Adam Salley notched his first senior goal when he made it 5-1 in stoppage time.

Waterworth added: "Dungannon worked us very hard and there were a lot of tired bodies.

"We put in two great performances in the first two games of the season, and had a heavy European schedule.

"The important thing was our mental strength. We stayed in the game. The boys knew they weren't performing well but we got there in the end."

It was an unhappy return to Windsor Park for ex-Linfield player Darren Murphy, now manager of Dungannon.

But he could take encouragement from his side's first 60 minutes. "We came here and made a game of it rather than trying to defend and force a 0-0 or get beaten 1-0," he said.

"Even when we went down to 10 men, we went to three at the back.

"Maybe that's naivety as a young manager, I appreciate that, but I believed in my players and thought we could still get something.

"We had a couple of half-chances at 2-1.

"We conceded the third goal in the 82nd minute and then the final 10 or so minutes became a nightmare."

LINFIELD: Ross Glendinning, Reece Glendinning, Haughey, Ward, Clarke, Lowry, Millar (Salley, 85 mins), Burns, Mulgrew (Kee, 74 mins), Bates, Waterworth (Quinn, 89 mins). Unused subs: Deane, Hegarty.

DUNGANNON: Coleman, Burns, Montgomery, Armstrong, McCaffrey, Harpur, Fitzpatrick (Hazley, 59 mins), Glackin, Burke (Liggett, 80 mins), Teggart (McCullough, 71 mins), McElroy. Unused subs: Mitchell, Addis

Referee: Mervyn Smyth (Belfast) 7

Man of the match: Andy Waterworth

Match rating: 7/10

Referee: Mervyn Smyth (Belfast)

Belfast Telegraph