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Linfield's teenage goalkeeper ready to shine in Big Two derby

By Graham Luney

Linfield's teenage goalkeeper Alex Moore is ready to sparkle in a Big Two derby for the second time.

The Stranmillis College student is learning quickly at Windsor Park and he faced a baptism of fire in February last year on his first senior appearance for the Blues.

Glentoran were the opposition at The Oval but the teenager rose to the occasion and produced a man of the match performance, helping his side kill off their rivals 1-0.

Andy Waterworth slotted in the winner on the hour mark.

The 19-year-old shot-stopper, who signed his first professional contract last month until the end of the 2019/20 season, is now thrust onto the big stage again after Gareth Deane joined Roy Carroll in the casualty room.

Linfield's goalkeeping troubles reflect the turbulence the club have endured this season as a campaign which started with so much promise has fizzled out in frustrating fashion.

Moore, who has been with the Blues from the age of six, can feel his team-mates' pain but a win at home to Glentoran today would begin the process of winning a little bit of pride back.

"I'm really enjoying it at Linfield, they are the team I wanted to play for, the biggest in the country and it's exciting to be part of the squad," said the Blues' new No.1.

"It's a big thrill for my family as well who are big Linfield fans. My twin brother Jordan, dad John and mum Elaine cheer me on which is nice.

"You always want to show what you can do but it's disappointing Roy and Gareth have picked up injuries.

"A door has opened for me and it's up to me to do my best for the team.

"I feel I am getting stronger all the time and working with goalkeeping coach Jonny Williamson has helped me push on."

Moore will wake up this morning with another clean sheet against the Glens on his mind.

Nerves of steel help when you're making your debut in a Big Two derby and the keeper will never forget his senior bow.

"It was a dream debut for me at The Oval," he said. "It couldn't have gone any better, a win, clean sheet and good performance. This will be my first Big Two game at Windsor and I'm really looking forward to it.

"There's something different about this derby game, it's always an enjoyable win if you can get the better of Glentoran."

It's been a turbulent season for Linfield, who are incredibly 18 points behind league leaders Crusaders.

It's never an easy assignment defending a league Championship but the fans expected their side to put up more of a fight.

"I think we have been unlucky this season and the Irish Cup game against Cliftonville was a perfect example," said Moore.

"We created plenty of chances but ended up being punished for not taking them.

"Finishing the season without a trophy is disappointing, especially after what happened last year, but we are still battling for a Europa League place and we must fight as hard as we can to get that.

"Everyone, including the supporters, could do with a lift after the Cup exit and hopefully we can beat our main rivals and change the atmosphere a bit."

David Healy never had any doubts Moore could do the business a year ago and his mind hasn't changed on that front.

"David has backed me and that means a lot," added the former RBAI student who hopes to become a PE teacher.

"It makes me feel more confident and I want to perform well for him as well as myself.

"He trusts and believes in me and it's important I repay that faith in me."

Healy said: "No one will be feeling sorry for ourselves. We must be prepared and ready to go. This game against Glentoran was always going to be huge. I thought the fans got right behind us against Cliftonville and we just fell a bit short."

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