Belfast Telegraph

Niall Quinn urging Linfield to prove they have the quality to overhaul Crues

Dungannon Swifts 0 Linfield 4

By Adrian Rutherford

Niall Quinn insists Crusaders are far from unstoppable - and has backed Linfield to overhaul the champions in the coming weeks.

The Blues scored four for the second time in a matter of days in their victory at Dungannon. It keeps them well within touching distance at the top of the table.

And while the Crues have set the pace once again in the opening months, Quinn believes they are not invincible.

"No team is unstoppable in this league and teams are taking points off everyone," the 23-year-old said. "Our aim is to close down the gap and go top of the table. We believe we can do it.

"The important thing is just to concentrate on ourselves and not get too distracted by others."

Quinn scored one and set up another in the emphatic win at Stangmore Park.

His goal came three minutes before the break when he collected a pass from Jamie Mulgrew and netted with a left-foot drive.

"It's not often that I score, so that's probably my goal for the season," he said. "I only scored a couple last season. Hopefully I'll get a couple more.

"I try to contribute to the team any way I can and, if I get on the scoresheet, it's a bonus."

Earlier, an own goal from Chris Hegarty had set Linfield on their way.

It came in the 29th minute when a free-kick from Ross Gaynor caused chaos and the defender headed into his own net.

Two minutes later, Mulgrew netted Linfield's second. After Quinn scored the third, he turned provider for Linfield's fourth in the second half.

His cross went all the way across to Gaynor, who swept home first time.

"It was brilliant - to score four and keep a clean sheet away from home is a good achievement for any club," said Quinn. "Dungannon are a good team, they play the ball, but we worked hard to close them down."

This followed Linfield's 4-1 win at Ballymena last Tuesday night. It is such a contrast from a year ago, when a run of four straight defeats in November did serious damage to their title hopes.

Now, the Blues are flying at a crucial stage of the campaign.

The big games are coming thick and fast, with a home clash against Cliftonville next up.

Quinn added: "We went through a tough period in October when we were playing two a week, so it is nothing new to us.

"It is up to us to push on and concentrate on closing the gap."

For Dungannon, it is now five games without a win. Head coach Rodney McAree accused his players of lacking fight.

"It's the most disappointing day I've had since I started coaching," he said.

The Swifts have raised their game against the top sides this season, and held Linfield at Windsor Park earlier in the campaign. But here they were blown away in the first half.

McAree will no doubt look back on his decision to rest players, including captain Ryan Harpur and Douglas Wilson.

He added: "We had no fight. I was looking further down the line. It was a mistake."

DUNGANNON: Coleman, Burns, Hegarty, Armstrong, O'Rourke, Clucas, Glackin (Wilson, 46 mins), McElroy, Burke (Harpur, 46 mins), Lavery, Mitchell (Fitzpatrick, 70 mins). Unused subs: Addis, Lowe.

LINFIELD: Carroll, Stafford (Casement, 79 mins), Haughey, Callacher, Ward, Lowry, Mulgrew, Quinn, Gaynor (R Clarke, 69 mins), Smyth, Waterworth (Millar, 73 mins). Unused subs: Burns, Carson.

Referee: Evan Boyce (Ballygowan)

Man of the match: Jamie Mulgrew

Match rating: 7/10

Belfast Telegraph


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