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Crusaders will feel force of Linfield backlash in County Antrim Shield final, vows Healy



Linfield manager David Healy

Linfield manager David Healy

Linfield manager David Healy

Linfield manager David Healy expects a big response from his team in tonight's County Antrim Shield final against Crusaders at Seaview (7.45pm) following their shock defeat to Glenavon.

Healy felt the Blues should have earned at least a point in Friday's league outing at Mourneview Park when an inspired performance from goalkeeper Jonny Tuffey and goals from Aaron Harmon and Josh Daniels saw the home side win 2-0.

With title rivals Ballymena hammering Coleraine at the weekend, it hasn't been a positive few days for Linfield whose lead at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership is down to six points having played a game more than David Jeffrey's men.

Healy is well aware success in the Shield decider would be a huge boost for the run-in to decide the league championship. He will demand a reaction to the loss in Lurgan and is confident he'll get one.

"We bounced back from losing to Ards, Coleraine and Ballymena earlier in the season and we'll aim to do the same this time," said Healy, whose side won the League Cup last month.

"Some people say it is the manager and the coaches whose job it is to lift players but the players can do that themselves too," added Healy.

“They were disappointed to lose at Glenavon but have been brilliant all season so I’m not going to be too critical of them. We will look for a response in the final and I believe we’ll get it.

“Sometimes a quick turnaround from a defeat can be beneficial rather than waiting another seven days to play.

“The final with Crusaders is a game for the players to relish and one to look forward to. It’s a final which gives us a chance to lift more silverware and hopefully Tuesday can be beneficial for the players moving forward.

“The Crusaders games with Linfield have been tight since I have been here as manager and I don’t expect any different this time.”

The 2-0 reverse versus Glenavon at Mourneview Park proved to be Linfield’s first loss in the league since December 1.

Northern Ireland’s record goalscorer stated: “It was a disappointing result. I thought we were good value for at least something but we missed chances at crucial times.

“We couldn’t get the first goal to give us an advantage and we got caught as soon as we came out in the second half from a strike from outside the box.

“Jonny Tuffey made saves at important times, so credit to him and credit to Glenavon — though we missed chances when on another night we would normally take them.

“We are still in a good position in the title race. If you had said to me after losing at the Ballymena Showgrounds at the start of December that we wouldn’t lose again in the league until the Glenavon game I’d have taken that.

“We will take the disappointment on the chin and move forward to a vital six or seven weeks of the season.”

Belfast Telegraph