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David Healy happy to scrape Linfield win and focus on important week


Tight tussle: Linfield’s Paul Smyth and Ballinamallard’s Ryan McConnell

Tight tussle: Linfield’s Paul Smyth and Ballinamallard’s Ryan McConnell

Tight tussle: Linfield’s Paul Smyth and Ballinamallard’s Ryan McConnell

Linfield manager David Healy admits that returning back to Belfast with the three points in the bag was all that mattered as the Blues opened their Danske Bank Premiership campaign with a hard fought 2-1 win over Ballinamallard at Ferney Park on Saturday.

In a tight encounter, a superb goal from Kirk Millar just before half time ultimately proved decisive as Linfield secured an opening day victory in Fermanagh.

The Blues had started brightly and grabbed an early lead through Stephen Lowry's close range header.

The impressive Ryan McConnell, on his Mallards debut, levelled for the home side with a sweetly struck volley on the half hour mark, but Millar's 42nd minute effort decided the contest.

A clearance from Mallards goalkeeper James McGrath landed at the feet of Millar who was on the right hand sideline, close to the halfway line, and he launched a first time effort back over a stranded McGrath to the back of the net.

"I think it is about the result, that's the positive we will take out of the 90 minutes today," said Healy. "It is not an easy place to come, we struggled last year to beat them so to come down and get the three points is the most important thing."

On Millar's effort, Healy stated: "It was a great finish by Kirk. He has a lot of individual ability and he proved that with the goal today."

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Linfield face a massive game next Saturday against Crusaders but before that they take on Coleraine on Wednesday night and Healy says the whole focus is on that game.

"We have a big game on Wednesday against Coleraine and I'm looking forward to it. The players will be fitter after today's work out," he commented.

New Mallards boss Gavin Dykes was pleased with his side's performance and felt they deserved to take something out of the game.

"I'm disappointed we didn't get something out of it to be honest. I thought we done very well and I'm exceptionally proud of them. We're disappointed with the goals we have given away but I thought overall we deserved something out of it," said Dykes.

He believes that the encouraging performance will see Ballinamallard go into Wednesday's game against Portadown in a positive frame of mind as they look to get points on the board early in the season.

"We are young and we will make mistakes but we have got to learn from the mistakes."

BALLINAMALLARD: McGrath, Morris, Elliott (McIlwaine, 77 mins), Taheny, McConnell, Currie (Mayse, 61mins), McCabe, Lecky, McGinty, Lafferty, McCartney.

Linfield: Carroll, Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth, Lowry, Millar, Casement, Mulgrew, Quinn, Gaynor (Carson, 71mins), Smyth (Burns, 87mins).

Referee: Ian McNabb (Newtownabbey)

Star watch

Roy Carroll: David Healy has added quality and experience to his squad with the signings of Roy Carroll and Sammy Clingan. Only Carroll was included in the squad for Saturday and it was a return to a familiar venue for the Northern Ireland international goalkeeper to mark his return to the Irish League. He played in the old B Division for Ballinamallard so it was fitting that the Fermanagh man's first league game for Linfield was at his old stomping ground.  There was nothing he could do to prevent Ryan McConnell's equaliser but anything he had to do he did with authority. 

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