Belfast Telegraph

Paul Smyth isn't on verge of Linfield exit, says Healy as Reading scout watches striker

Ards 0 Linfield 2

By Keith Bailie

Linfield manager David Healy laughed off suggestions that Paul Smyth might leave the club after the Blues defeated Ards 2-0 at the Bangor Fuels Arena.

Smyth provided a fine assist for Kirk Millar to score in the first half, although Ards goalkeeper Aaron Hogg denied him on three occasions. The Northern Ireland Under-21 international has been linked with a number of English Championship clubs, with a Reading scout watching from the stands in Bangor.

Healy laughed: "Paul Smyth will be a Linfield player on Saturday when we play Dungannon. He will be frustrated tonight because he was denied a few times but I've no doubt he will start taking those chances."

Linfield's second win moves the champions onto six points. While two 2-0 wins over Carrick and Ards is hardly spectacular, Healy is not concerned.

"This isn't the time to be spectacular. This is the time you get points so you can kick on and do great things in March and April, like we did last season," he said.

"I'm very happy with our start. We've won both games and not conceded, so I've no complaints."

Linfield dominated possession from the first kick, leaving Colin Nixon's men to chase shadows.

Windsor Park new boy Andrew Mitchell nearly opened his account in the 18th minute when he hit a 30-yard free-kick that forced Hogg into a superb save.

Hogg was only able to hold back the Linfield tide for another minute. Millar hung up a free-kick towards the back post and Mark Haughey took advantage, drilling the ball into the net.

Ards almost equalised a minute later when Guillaume Keke sent a 20-yard shot towards goal, which Roy Carroll palmed away.

But nobody could argue that Linfield didn't fully merit their second goal in the 29th minute.

Smyth burned Greg Hall for pace on the left and picked out Millar, who powered home a header.

Ards had their best chance three minutes into the new half. Midfielder Scott Davidson broke free and steered his shot past Carroll, only to see it hit the post.

Smyth almost punished Ards for a slack offside trap in the 58th minute and was denied again in the 67th minute. Hogg completed a hat-trick of saves from Smyth in the 86th minute.

Nixon said: "It's frustrating because we have conceded eight goals in two games, and that isn't good enough. All eight goals were avoidable in their own way.

"Today was arguably a better display that at Solitude on Saturday, but I expect better again at Warrenpoint at the weekend."

Ards: Hogg; Hall, Taylor, Byers, McMillen; Frazer, Davidson, Cherry, Hanley (72 McLellan), McAllister; Keke. Subs Not Used: Kelly, Liggett, McAleenan, McComb

Linfield: Carroll; Casement, Stafford, Haughey, Quinn; Mitchell, Mulgrew, Garrett; J. Stewart (74 Burns), Smyth, Millar (86 C. Stewart). Subs Not Used: M. Clarke, Lowry, Robinson

Referee: Tim Marshall

Man of the Match: Aaron Hogg

Match Rating: 6/10.

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