How fear factor is driving Linfield to success, says hat-trick hero Stewart
Linfield 4 Warrenpoint T 0
Hat-trick hero Jordan Stewart believes fear factor is the driving force behind Linfield's surge at the top of the table.
David Healy's boys inched three points clear of the chasing pack following an impressive win over gritty Warrenpoint Town at Windsor Park on Saturday.
Stewart was the tormentor in chief. Not only did he hit a glorious treble, but he produced the type of performance that had cross-channel scouts flocking after him a few years back.
The reliable Andy Waterworth also chipped in with a goal to take his tally to an impressive 23 so far. The Blues are now 10 games unbeaten and, significantly have conceded only three goals during that run of results.
Top of the table, two cup finals looming and an Irish Cup showdown with Crusaders on the horizon, Healy appears to have a recipe for success.
"The team pretty much picks itself these days which helps, big time," said Stewart. "Fear factor helps drive us on - and that counts for everyone in the squad.
"No one wants to go out of the team. It's good for the gaffer that everyone is playing well. It's difficult for him to leave anyone out, but we know that can change.
"We are still in every cup competition, so that's why we have such a demanding schedule. When you are enjoying football, you can't wait to get back out there again.
"I'm just thrilled to be playing a part on a regular basis - I'm enjoying my football again, but we must keep it going. We haven't won anything yet.
"We maybe top of the table, but we'll not be getting carried away. It's a long season, we just take each game as it comes."
Stewart not only bagged a hat-trick picked up a personal award even before the game.
He adds: "It was a crazy day. I got the supporters' trophy for December player of the month. I then scored a hat-trick, got the man of the match award and Liverpool won 1-0, so it doesn't get much better.
"We've a hectic schedule between now and the end of February, which includes the two cup finals, but we are relishing the challenge."
The former Swindon Town man admitted the Blues had to be patient before Warrenpoint Town eventually wilted.
"Warrenpoint were very impressive in the first half," he added. "They came out and pressed us high and played some great football.
"It took us over 35 minutes to really get going. The gaffer changed the shape of the team and we started to get a bit higher up the pitch and we began to take over. I thought we were brilliant in the second half."
Warrenpoint Town boss Stephen McDonnell pulled no punches in his post-match analysis, stating his boys got what they deserved.
He moaned: "I have to ask questions on why we didn't perform in the second half. We didn't impose ourselves.
"Every decision we made was a negative one, even when we were in possession. We were going side ways and back ways - we never really looked to penetrate their defence.
"I think it's something in the guys' heads. Perhaps, it was a daunting experience for some of them walking out at Windsor Park.
"I told the guys some harsh truths. There are no hiding places in our dressing room. I tell people how it is and if it's not good enough it's up to them to put it right."
He added: "They will have to learn from it. I told them cannot afford to produce that type of performance again next Saturday because, while the transfer window is still open, some of them will find themselves out of this club."