Belfast Telegraph

Healy: my boys deserve to lap up plaudits

Linfield 4 Glentoran 0

Net gains: Jordan Stewart fires home for Linfield
Net gains: Jordan Stewart fires home for Linfield
Jordan Stewart enjoys the moment

By Alex Mills

Linfield boss David Healy yesterday punched the air with delight after watching his team demolish Big Two rivals Glentoran at Windsor Park.

Goals from Jimmy Callacher, Jordan Stewart, Joel Cooper and Andy Waterworth made it a Boxing Day to remember for Healy and the big home crowd.

The former Northern Ireland striker admitted that 'it doesn't get much better' after his team inched within two points of Danske Bank Premiership pacesetters Ballymena United.

But the mood in the Glentoran dressing room down the corridor wasn't so jovial - Ronnie McFall's boys now haven't won in 10 starts and are dropping down the table at an alarming rate.

And, just when they thought things couldn't get much worse, striker Robbie McDaid was dismissed eight minutes from time for needlessly kicking out.

Healy simply couldn't hide his delight afterwards and said: "It's as good as it gets for a Boxing Day performance. Our lads were fantastic.

"We had big performances all over the pitch.

"It was only 1-0 at half-time and we left the door open a little bit for Glentoran - we knew we would get a little bit of a reaction after the break.

"But we were so dominant and so ahead of them in every department.

"We scored four goals and kept a clean sheet - that's now three in a row, so it doesn't get much better.

"The scoreline certainly didn't flatter us. I thought our all-round game, right up until the 93rd minute, was as good as it gets. The score really could have been anything in the end."

After the early bout of sparring in which both teams hardly laid a glove on each other, the Blues forged ahead on 16 minutes.

The dangerous Cooper was flattened by a clumsy challenge from Conor Pepper and, when Kirk Millar delivered the most delicious of free-kicks, Callacher steamed in to ram home - much to the delight of the big home support.

McFall's team attempted to come back off the ropes when defender Willie Garrett tried his luck with an audacious 30-yard free-kick that forced Roy Carroll to smother at the base of the post after Stephen Fallon had hauled down Dylan Davidson.

Linfield should really have made it two just on the half hour when Jamie Mulgrew sent Stewart darting down the right and, when he drilled in a low cross, Millar arrived at the back post only to shoot across the face of the goal.

And, seconds later, Millar was at it again.

This time he found himself totally unmarked when Niall Quinn whipped in a great cross only to see his glancing header fizz inches past the post.

The Blues threatened again seven minutes before the break when a sizzling move ignited at the back by Josh Robinson, involving Mulgrew and Cooper, resulted in Waterworth getting a toe to the midfielder's cross which Elliott Morris dealt with.

Cooper then took off on a lung-busting run before drilling a low drive that was spilled by Morris, who reacted quickly and gobbled up the loose ball with Waterworth ready to pounce.

The Glens were let off the hook seconds before the half-time whistle.

Quinn's cross was met by the head of Waterworth, but Morris was relieved to see the ball crash back off the inside of the post.

McFall replaced Davidson with Curtis Allen during the break in a bid to improve his team's penetration up front and he almost levelled with his first touch. Marcus Kane's hopeful punt was allowed to drift into the box and the striker's header flashed inches over the crossbar.

Suddenly, it was the Glens who were asking all the questions.

Big defender James Ferrin joined his forwards to test Carroll with a stinging drive from the edge of the box which the keeper plucked out of the air.

But it was the Blues who grabbed a killer second goal on 65 minutes. Stewart started and finished a brilliant counter-attack, the little midfielder breaking with lightning pace before sending Cooper clear.

The former Glenavon man pulled the ball across the face of the goal, leaving Stewart with a simple tap-in. The international arena was still bouncing when the Blues struck again. Quinn sent in one of his trademark corner kick deliveries, leaving Cooper with a simple finish.

Stewart's magic created a great chance for Cooper, whose close-range shot was shovelled clear by Morris. From Quinn's resulting corner kick, Callacher's thumping header was knocked off the line at the back post by Nathan Kerr.

But they were not to be denied. Substitute Andy Mitchell slipped a delightful pass to Waterworth, who simply lashed the ball under the diving Morris.

And it got worse for the visitors because striker McDaid was red-carded eight minutes from time after a clash with Stewart.

Glens boss McFall slammed his players and stated afterwards: "They were a total embarrassment, some of them not fit to wear the shirt. Today has shown that a lot of them are not, it is just as simple as that."

"It is an embarrassing day. It goes without saying that the club is well short of quality players to get them back to where they want to be."

LINFIELD: Carroll, Robinson, Callacher, Waterworth (O'Connor, 76 mins), Cooper (Kearns, 76 mins), Stewart, Millar, Fallon, Mulgrew (Mitchell, 73 mins), Quinn, Casement.

Unused subs: Deane, Clarke, Garrett, Reynolds.

GLENTORAN: Morris, Garrett, Kane, McMahon (O'Neill, 68 mins) , Herron, McDaid, Davidson (Allen, 45 mins), Kerr, Pepper, Gordon (Gallagher, 77 mins), Ferrin.

Unused subs: Nelson, Prentice, Henderson, McCarthy.

Man of the match: Jordan Stewart

Referee: Ian McNabb

Match rating: 8/10

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