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Glentoran defeat did Linfield no favours, insists Healy

Warrenpoint Tn 1 Linfield 2

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On target: Andy Waterworth is congratulated after scoring from the penalty spot

On target: Andy Waterworth is congratulated after scoring from the penalty spot

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On target: Andy Waterworth is congratulated after scoring from the penalty spot

Linfield manager David Healy is expecting plenty more twists and turns in what has become an enthralling title race.

As the final whistle blew at Milltown on Saturday, there was a sense of relief amongst the visiting supporters that their team had overcome a tough challenge from second-bottom Warrenpoint Town and joy when they learnt other final scores from around the country.

With Glentoran, Crusaders and Cliftonville all dropping vital points and Coleraine the only other title contenders to win, this was a pleasing weekend for the Blues, who moved four clear at the top.

What Healy wants now is to push on in the remaining 10 league games, starting away to Ballymena United on Friday night.

Not for the first time in his career, Andy Waterworth was the hero for the champions, taking advantage of a defensive error to give Healy's side the lead and netting a Panenka-style penalty after Ryan Swan had curled in a classy equaliser moments into the second period.

Healy was delighted with Waterworth and his team. On the title race, though, he was not getting carried away despite Linfield putting a little distance between themselves and the rest.

The Blues boss said: "I'm not sure we have breathing space. People might say other results went for us but I don't see Coleraine beating Glentoran as a result going for us because Coleraine are now in second and are a very dangerous outfit. They are in there fighting like the other teams. There is a long way to go and I'm sure there will be twists and turns along the way.

"We have a couple of tough games coming up away to Ballymena and at home to Crusaders so we will just focus on ourselves."

Warrenpoint were slightly unfortunate not to nick a point in the swirling wind and driving rain. Barry Gray's side gave the leaders a huge test especially in the second period, when Emmet Bennett wasted a headed opportunity to earn his side a draw.

New goalkeeper Gareth Buchanan, in for the suspended Mark Byrne, impressed, making a fantastic double save to deny Shayne Lavery in a frantic finale.

Some home truths from Town boss Gray at the break clearly had the desired impact with the Milltown men having a real go in the second period.

Gray revealed: "I said to the boys at half-time that we were too happy with an alright performance.

"I pointed out we had to get past that because we were still losing and 1-0 down. There was no shouting or anything like that. The message was clear 'if you want to be happy being 1-0 behind Linfield then you should maybe consider your position'. It wasn't done for a reaction. It was the honest truth of where we were at that point.

"In the second half, they proved me right - or wrong, whatever way you want to look at it.

"The players really excelled in their own areas and it is a massive positive to take out of the game and one we can be delighted with."

Gray will demand more of the same on Friday when Warrenpoint host bottom side Institute. A home win would see Town go five points ahead of their closest rivals in the relegation battle.

WARRENPOINT: Buchanan, Bennett, Reilly, Lynch, Hutchinson, Wallace, Dillon, Mullen, Deasy, Swan, McKee (Watters, 85 mins). Unused subs: Tumility, Smith, McCann, O'Kane, Murnaghan, Cowan.

LINFIELD: Ferguson, Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth, Cooper, Millar, Lavery, McClean, Fallon, Quinn, Casement. Unused subs: Moore, Stewart, Clarke, Kearns, Hery, Boyle, Currie.

Referee: Steven Gregg (Ballyclare)

Man of the match: Andy Waterworth

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