Belfast Telegraph

Healy is thrilled to get a huge response from Blues

Warrenpoint T 0 Linfield 5

By Steven Beacom

September 7 has been kind to David Healy over the years. On that date in 2005, Northern Ireland's record scorer smacked home the most famous goal of his career to beat England at Windsor Park.

Thirteen years on, last night his Linfield team hammered Warrenpoint Town 5-0 at Milltown to return to the top of the Danske Bank Premiership.

Displaced by Coleraine at the start of the week, the Bannsiders have now lost boss Oran Kearney to St Mirren and first place.

Healy felt his side were flat in last weekend's 0-0 draw with Ards. Well, they were firing against a Town side who had new goalkeeper Aaron McCarey sent off in the second half.

Healy said: "We were excellent and the 5-0 scoreline justified that. Our mentality and attitude were spot on.

"It's important (to have five different scorers) from a coaching point of view, if you want to win titles you need goals to come across the pitch.

"Our defence has been impressive and there has been a big turnaround from last year, this will be crucial this season if we can continue this form. It's great for the new players to settle quickly but this is only a start and we need to build, but we have reasons to be positive."

And he added: "Ryan McGivern, Mark Haughey and Lorcan Forde are all still a number of weeks away from fitness."

The Blues were in front early on through a Simon Kelly own goal and never lost control after that with Daniel Kearns, Michael O'Connor, an Andrew Mitchell penalty and substitute Andrew Waterworth completing the scoring.

Yes, they will have bigger tests than this, but they deserve credit for a professional display and look genuine championship contenders. As for Warrenpoint, they have now gone six games without a single point. Stephen McDonnell has potential as a manager but he knows all too well he has to get a win or even a draw to kick-start Town's season.

After last weekend's 6-1 defeat at home to Ballymena United, McDonnell made numerous changes with a debut for new goalkeeper McCarey.

As can be the case in the Irish League, there were siblings on opposite sides with Ciaran O'Connor representing Warrenpoint and his brother Michael playing for the Blues up front.

What the home side needed was a fast start. What they got was a shocker, going behind to an own goal three minutes in.

Kirk Millar swung in a free-kick from the left and the ball hit Kelly and ended up in the net.

It could have got worse for the home side when O'Connor raced clear only for McCarey to make a save. From the resulting corner there was a crazy scramble with Town defending for their lives.

The lively O'Connor had further opportunities to double Linfield's lead before Kearns did just that on 36 minutes, nodding in from close range after Jimmy Callacher had headed Mitchell's free-kick across the goal.

McCarey made a series of saves before the break to keep it at 2-0, the best of which was to deny a brilliant Millar strike.

Warrenpoint started the second period with intent but it was Linfield with their first meaningful attack of the half who found the net.

O'Connor may have hit the bar with a header from Mitchell's cross on 53 minutes but he pounced to snap up the rebound.

Three minutes later McCarey was red-carded after bringing down Joel Cooper in the box.

Up stepped Mitchell to make no mistake with the penalty on 58 minutes after Town had brought on their substitute goalkeeper Berraat Turker.

Another man who started on the bench had the final say. Waterworth raced through on 90 minutes and provided a classy finish to end the game in style.

WARRENPOINT TOWN: McCarey, Foster, Moan, Kelly, Griffin (Donnelly 82), McGrandles (Turker 58) , McCaffrey, Kouogun, O'Connor (O'Sullivan 61), Norton, Wallace. Subs not used: J Lynch, M Lynch, Watters, Halfpenny.

LINFIELD: Carroll, Robinson, Callacher, O'Connor (Waterworth 64) , Cooper (Stewart 79), Millar, Clarke, Kearns (Quinn 75), Garrett, Mitchell, Casement. Subs not used: Stafford, Fallon, Smith, Deane.

Man of match: Joel Cooper

Match rating: 7/10

Referee: Ross Dunlop

Belfast Telegraph

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