Belfast Telegraph

Healy urges Linfield to show grit

By David Mason

Linfield manager David Healy has challenged his players to stand up and be counted in tonight's Toals Bookmakers County Antrim Shield semi-final against Carrick Rangers at Windsor Park.

The former Northern Ireland striker was once again left with more questions than answers following another inept performance against Ballinamallard United at the weekend.

Whitey Anderson's team played the entire second-half with 10 men, having had Shane McCabe dismissed, but the Blues - in front of their frustrated fans - again flattered to deceive and had to settle for a 1-1 draw.

After just one win in their last six games, Healy is gradually running out of patience but he insists this semi-final - which has been switched to Windsor from Carrick's Taylors Avenue due to ongoing problems with their waterlogged pitch - gives them an ideal opportunity to get back on track.

"This was always going to be an important game, but now it's massive for this football club," declared Healy.

"It's the chance to reach the final of a tournament. I have asked for 11 big men to come and stand up for the game.

"When things are not going so well, it's a tough place to play.

"I know there is quality in the dressing room, but not enough of that is coming through on match days which means we are not winning games we should be winning.

"They now have a chance to put that right."

Relinquishing home advantage wasn't a decision Carrick reached without a great deal of reluctance, but facing Linfield at Windsor Park holds no fears for manager Gary Haveron.

"It's only a few weeks ago that we went to Windsor Park and were disappointed not to have done better than a 1-1 draw so while it would have been good to have had home advantage, I have no concerns about going there," said Haveron.

"If you look at our better results, they have come at Dungannon, Ballinamallard, Ballymena and Linfield - big pitches that are in good condition and I think that suits our game.

"There won't be any fear in our team going to face Linfield because we think that the venue is conducive to the way we want to play."

A bigger problem for Haveron may be match fitness.

As well as being forced to move the Shield semi, Carrick have had league games against Cliftonville and Crusaders postponed and Haveron's team have only played one game in the last three weeks.

Tonight's match is all-ticket for Carrick fans. They can be purchased in advance at East Antrim Motor Factors, The Swift or the Belfast Loughshore Hotel, priced £10 for adults and £7 concessions.

CARRICK Rangers' scheduled home fixture with Ballinamallard United this Saturday, December 19 has been reversed.

The match will now take place at Ferney Park, with the Mallards then travelling to Carrick later in the season, on Saturday, March 12.

Belfast Telegraph


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