Belfast Telegraph

How David Healy's words of wisdom helped Kirk Millar fire Linfield to last-gasp Big Two glory

 

Slide rule: Kirk Millar soaks up the adulation of the crowd after his decisive late strike
Slide rule: Kirk Millar soaks up the adulation of the crowd after his decisive late strike
Mick McDermott

By Alex Mills

Goal hero Kirk Millar admits he hit the jackpot after taking the advice of Linfield boss David Healy before Saturday's Big Two shootout with Glentoran at Windsor Park.

The contest appeared to be heading for stalemate when Millar acted on his gaffer's words of wisdom.

Picking up a Mark Stafford pass, he cut inside full-back Marcus Kane before letting fly and, although his shot took a deflection off the boot of Connor Pepper, it still had enough venom to end in the corner of the net.

"The gaffer always tells me I should always gamble at the back post," said Millar.

"I've been trying to do that in games and thankfully it paid off for me. He actually had a word with me before the game.

"I know I must try to add more goals to my game this season.

"When Bas (Bastien Hery) is on the ball, you know something is going to happen.

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"He's exciting and, more times than enough, he'll manage to create something. I still don't know what big Staff (Stafford) was doing up there - he was the last person I expected to see in the penalty area - but he showed great feet to get the ball to me.

"I didn't hit it all that cleanly, it came off someone's leg before it went into the net, but I'll take one of those every day.

"I was tempted to hit it first time. I think had I taken it on first time, it would have been blocked, that's why I cut inside. It was a scrappy goal, but I don't mind."

It was the perfect way to end a week when Millar agreed a new extended three-year contract at Windsor Park.

"I haven't had many better weeks," he added. "I was chuffed to bits to sign for another three years.

"To top it off a winning goal against the Glens was special - it's the first time I've scored a winner in a Big Two derby and I've played in quite a few.

"There wasn't much between the sides over the 90 minutes. It was tight and cagey, it was always going to be decided on the team that took the chance that fell to them. Thankfully I was able to put it away.

"Glentoran have shown great improvement from last season and, for the first time in ages, this really felt like a Big Two derby.

"When the teams meet, it's always frantic, you don't get a lot of time on the ball.

"We know we are still playing catch-up in terms of points and games, so it was important we clawed back another three points to help us climb the table - it was a massive win for us."

If Millar reckons it was a deserved three points for the boys in blue, Glentoran boss Mick McDermott believes his team should have left with a draw for their efforts.

"If Robbie McDaid's second-half header drops in instead of hitting the crossbar, then it's a different ball game," said McDermott.

"I thought both teams would have settled for a point over the last five minutes, but derbies are derbies. I suppose it was cruel way to lose it.

"I have no complaints in terms of effort and enthusiasm. Linfield are very efficient at what they do. They get the ball wide and get early crosses intro the box. We were under pressure for long spells.

"But I thought we managed most things they threw at us. I couldn't fault the commitment of the team."

McDermott was delighted with the contribution of Elvio van Overbeek and teenager Paul O'Neill, especially in the second-half.

"Overbeek grew into the game and he looked good, especially in the second," he added. "He's played at a high level and he's got quality, young Paul O'Neill was also excellent.

"The fans gave the boys a standing ovation on the way off, so they knew every one of them put in a shift. They supporters have been excellent, and they showed up in big numbers."

LINFIELD: Ferguson, Casement, Stafford, Callacher, Quinn, Millar, Hery, Mulgrew, Cooper (Clarke, 90 mins), Waterworth (Fallon, 77 mins), Lavery. Unused subs: Deane, Shevlin, McGivern, Mitchell, Reynolds.

GLENTORAN: Antolovic, Pepper, Peers (Gordon, 14 mins), McClean, Kane, Crowe (Murray, 89 mins), van Overbeek, Herron, Plum, O'Neill (Stewart, 86 mins), McDaid. Unused subs: Morris, Gallagher, Smith, Duric.

Referee: Ian McNabb (Carrickfergus)

Man of the Match: Mark Stafford

Match Rating: 7/10

Linfield 1

Glentoran 0

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