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Linfield boss still has sights on title glory after bringing losing streak to an end


Linfield's Jimmy Callacher celebrates scoring against Coleraine

Linfield's Jimmy Callacher celebrates scoring against Coleraine

©William Cherry / Presseye

Linfield's Jimmy Callacher celebrates scoring against Coleraine

The last time Linfield lost four league games in a row, they ended it with a 3-1 win over Ards and went on an eight-match unbeaten run. That was in 1997 when the Blues finished fifth but David Healy is aiming much higher after they returned to winning ways against Coleraine.

Linfield may be 12 points behind leaders Crusaders at the halfway point but the Linfield boss is still "thinking of the title".

"One hundred per cent, I am. I told the players on Tuesday and told the players again on Thursday that the last thing the teams at the top want to see is Linfield picking up points," said Healy after Jimmy Callacher's 47th-minute goal had been enough to see off the challenge of one of the three teams above the Blues.

"I know you need a certain mentality to coach here, to play here and I firmly believe I have that, I firmly believe I have the players in the dressing room who have that and this was hopefully just the start of a positive December and into January.

"We have Glentoran on Boxing Day and Crusaders on New Year's Day coming up, so big games to get excited for and I love big games."

Callacher's centre-back colleague Mark Stafford is also getting used to the big games at a "big club" and he hailed his manager Healy's preparation for the 'must-win' game with the Bannsiders.

"Defeat for David would have been unthinkable so this was a big result," said Stafford.

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"He picked the right team to do the job. We looked dangerous from set-pieces, David Kee has a quality left foot and myself and Jimmy are quite physical so we are going to be a handful.

"I should have scored just before half-time from a corner, but got too much on it.

"Jimmy, though, made no mistake at the start of the second-half. He really wanted to get on the end of it and although he didn't catch it cleanly, it was enough to cross the line.

"It was always going to be difficult after the run we've been on. It's been tough with people questioning the team and the manager, the supporters were getting frustrated.

"But we stood up, dug deep and though it wasn't pretty I thought we were very good in the second-half and put them under a lot of pressure. They were always going to be pushing in the last 10 minutes. But I thought we got what we deserved."

The result ended Coleraine's hopes of equalling their 12-match unbeaten run from 2003-04 but manager Oran Kearney vowed they will start again and hope to go on another run, starting against Glenavon next week.

"We beat Cliftonville to end their 15-game winning run the year they won the league and they went on another double figure run and that is our target," said Kearney.

"We weren't under pressure, it was up to us to come here and enjoy ourselves.

"We went with the wind in the first-half and normally we would create more chances than we did but I thought we were extra careful here.

"I couldn't have been any happier with how we played in the first-half until the final third but some of our decision-making was unorthodox, which is not like us, and that was disappointing. Ian Parkhill's chance would have allowed us to kick on."

Parkhill was denied in the 15th minute by a point blank save from Ross Glendinning as the Bannsiders started with the confidence of a team which had won their last four games.

But with Stafford and Callacher standing firm, the Blues did just enough in the first-half and with the gale at their backs after the break, they scored the early goal which had proved so elusive for the visitors.

It was the difference between the teams and allowed Linfield to extend their unbeaten run in this fixture to 10.


coleraine 0

LINFIELd: Ross Glendinning, Reece Glendinning, Callacher, Stafford, Clarke; Smyth (Quinn 80 mins), Mulgrew, Kee, Burns; Waterworth, Bates.

Subs not used: Deane, Haughey, Millar, Ward.

Coleraine: Doherty; Kane, Beverland, Douglas, Falconer; McLaughlin (Morrow 82 mins), Harkin, McCafferty, Brown (Lyons 60 mins); Parkhill (McGonigle 60 mins), McCauley.

Subs not used: Higgins, Watt.

Match rating: 6/10

Man of the match: Jimmy Callacher

Referee: Ross Dunlop (Bangor).

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