Belfast Telegraph

Linfield boss Healy sees red over men in black

Glenavon 2 Linfield 2

By David Mason

David Healy believes it's time for match officials to start upping their game.

Irvinestown's Tim Marshall is the latest referee to be caught in the eye of a storm following his performance at Mourneview Park on Saturday.

Northern Ireland's record goalscorer Healy couldn't believe what he was seeing when Matthew Clarke was dismissed followed by goalkeeper Roy Carroll in a madcap 60 seconds.

Clarke can certainly feel hard done by. He hit Andy McGrory with a robust challenge, but clearly won the ball.

Marshall's decision led to a mass brawl in front of both dugouts, which culminated in Carroll following his defender to the dressing room for an alleged spitting incident.

It was hardly surprising that Glenavon took full advantage. Goals from Paddy McCourt - his first league strike in a blue shirt - and Greg Moorhouse appeared to have secured the points by half-time.

But the Blues had other ideas. Andy Waterworth's thumping header brought them back into it before little substitute Paul Smyth took off on a lightning 40-yard dash and, when confronted by Johnny Tuffey, his finish was magical.

Healy failed to hide his delight at the finish, joining the Linfield masses for a huge celebration.

But he later asked the question: 'Are referees good enough for this league?'

"I'm manager of the biggest football club in this country by a million miles," he fumed. "My job is to win trophies. If I don't do that, I'm in trouble. Does anyone ever ask questions about the performance of referees?

"I've been in the Danske Bank Premiership for a year now and some of the decisions week in, week out, not only for my team, leave me baffled. It's things like that that cost the fans dreams of winning trophies. They cost managers jobs... they cost clubs points. And, they cost clubs money in terms of getting into European football.

"They need to get it right -and they are not doing that. I'm not having a personal go at today's referee - I am questioning them all. Are they good enough?"

Healy admitted he was on the verge of joining the Linfield supporters at the far side of the ground when Smyth bagged that sensational equaliser.

He added: "If I had been close to the Linfield fans, I would have been in among them - that's how much it meant to me. I'm not one for making excuses. Yes, I was disappointed we didn't win the game, but anything that could have gone against us did go against us.

"Every little decision... every tackle we made was a yellow card. It appeared the referee couldn't get the cards out quickly enough. But we showed a heck of amount of character and tenacity to bounce back to get a draw.

"We had to be disciplined. We always work hard in training as a solid back four. The boys worked incredibly hard. They were a credit to the club.

"Many weaker teams would have folded... they could have been beaten six or seven and blamed the circumstances.

"But the boys stood up and were counted. Yes, it's two points dropped, but it still feels like a win. I have no doubts if we had kept 11 men on the pitch, we would have won the game."

Healy also singled out the performance of big Mark Haughey, who took over from Carroll in goals.

"People may question me about not naming a substitute goalkeeper on the bench," he added.

"But I think everyone knows that the big man can handle himself in that position.

"He is more than capable of stepping in. I certainly don't want it to happen three or four times a season. He did the same last year also against Glenavon and he actually saved a penalty kick from Kevin Braniff."

Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton insisted Linfield deserved their point, based on their second half performance.

He said: "I asked the boys at half-time to keep their shape and try not to concede free kicks, as Linfield are dangerous from set pieces. That's where there first goal came from.

"I wanted them to move the ball quickly and to do things at pace in the second half. I wanted up to play at a high tempo. We didn't do that and were ultimately punished.

"They sat in and our boys didn't do what was asked of them. Yes we dominated position, but we didn't hurt them.

"On their second half showing, they deserved a point. They created two chances and put them away - fair play to them.

"When they have a player with the quality of Smyth, he is always capable of hurting you. I always thought he has the ability to beat a few players and stick the ball in the net.

"I actually predicted the game would finish 2-2 early in the second half because of the way we were shaping up. We were comfortable on the ball, but we were going nowhere."

Glenavon: Tuffey, Kelly (Doyle, 6 mins), Lindsay (Moorhouse, 28 mins), Kilmartin, Marshall, Cooper, Bradley (Braniff, 66 mins), Sykes, McGrory, McCourt, Singleton. Unused subs: Hall, Norton.

Linfield: Carroll, Stafford, Clingan (Smyth, 46 mins), Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth, Millar (R Clarke, 83 mins), Ward, M Clarke, Mulgrew (Lowry, 46 mins), Gaynor. Unused subs: Casement, Quinn.

Referee: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown)

Man of the match: Mark Haughey

Match rating: 7/10

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