Belfast Telegraph

David Healy set to freshen Linfield squad after bemoaning 'crucial' referee's decision against Glentoran

Tough watch: Linfield manager David Healy and his staff look on, unimpressed with what they are witnessing at The Oval
Tough watch: Linfield manager David Healy and his staff look on, unimpressed with what they are witnessing at The Oval

By Alex Mills

Linfield boss David Healy admits there will be no hiding place at the Ballycastle Road Showgrounds today.

The Blues are perched only one point adrift of Danske Bank Premiership pacesetters Cliftonville, but their festive results have been hugely disappointing.

Healy's boys managed to nick a draw at home to Crusaders last Saturday but fell to a shattering defeat in the big Boxing Day dust-up against Belfast rivals Glentoran at The Oval.

Things don't get any easier for the wounded Blues because they now face Coleraine on the north coast - a team only deprived of second spot in the league standings due to their inferior goal difference.

It means there is no room for error for the defending champions and Healy knows another negative result against a top-six team would put a question mark on their title defence.

"It's not ideal that we are playing less than 48 hours after the Oval game, especially another away game up at Coleraine, but at least it will give the players a quick opportunity to respond to the Boxing Day result," said the former Northern Ireland striker.

"The Showgrounds is always a difficult venue and tough pitch to play on, but we'll go there and regroup.

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"I will probably refresh the squad and hopefully we can come back with a better result than we had at The Oval.

"There are a lot of points to be played for, there are a lot of games coming up.

"Over the next three or four games, all the top teams will be playing against each other, so there are going to be points dropped.

"There will be points dropped at the Showgrounds on Saturday by some team. We need to make sure we are on the right end of a result."

Although the Bannsiders have gone off the boil in recent games, they bounced right back into the title frame with a morale-boosting victory over rivals Ballymena United on Boxing Day.

Healy added: "They'll go into the game on a high after their win against Ballymena.

"Their form may have been a bit patchy prior to that, but as I said before, any team is capable of beating the other in this league, whether it's a top-six or a bottom-six club.

"And we know that every team lifts their game when they play us, so we know we'll be in for a tough time.

"It will be whatever team turns up and makes the least mistakes and is that little bit more clinical around goal who will probably go on and win the game."

Although the Boxing Day scoreline had a one-sided appearance, Healy insists that 3-0 wasn't a true reflection of the game.

"I certainly didn't see it coming," added the former Manchester United and Rangers man. "Our performance was good. For me, the game hinged on a refereeing decision when they (Glentoran) scored their second goal.

"Stephen Fallon was clearly fouled in the middle of the pitch and for some reason we were not awarded a free-kick. The referee blew up all day for all the little niggly fouls, but he let that one go, which was a crucial moment in the game - it killed us. They broke from that and scored their second goal.

"It probably cost us an opportunity to throw everything at it (to win the game) over the last 15 minutes when the score was still 1-0.

"We played really well against Glentoran and ended up with nothing. It shows that football works in mysterious ways. I certainly can't be too hard on the players.

"When you go to places like The Oval, you can't carry passengers and I don't think we did - every one of them stood up to the challenge.

"It may sound wrong, but the scoreline doesn't give a true reflection of the game."

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