Belfast Telegraph

Portadown felt the full force of Linfield backlash, says thrilled boss Healy

Portadown 0 Linfield 5

By Stuart McKinley

David Healy put the nature of Linfield's 5-0 hammering of Portadown down to the desire of his players to get back on track after last week's defeat to Cliftonville.

A year ago, the Blues came through a nightmare November, in which they lost all four league games - the fourth of them against the Ports at Shamrock Park.

This season, Linfield are a very different team. They have only lost twice in the league so far and there was no danger of the Ports making that three after Stephen Lowry struck the opening goal after just nine minutes.

Healy's men really turned on the style in a 19-minute spell either side of half-time that saw them hit four goals, with Paul Smyth, Kirk Millar, Jamie Mulgrew and Mark Stafford on target between the 38th and 59th minutes - the perfect response after the late 2-1 loss to Cliftonville - and they were even able to miss a late penalty through 16-year-old substitute Ryan Strain without it taking the shine off the performance.

"I was pleased with the response from last week," said Healy. "We started the game at a better tempo than we did last week. We were comfortable winners, but you only win comfortably if you go about the game the right way and we did that.

"Coming off the back of a defeat, sometimes it's easy to get a response, sometimes it's a lot harder, but it was easy because we went about the game in the right way, we got the early goal to give us a foothold and when you have good attacking players like we do you are always capable of scoring goals."

Healy claimed things could have been different had his players paid too much attention to the table, with the Ports still trying to wipe out the last point of their 15-point penalty.

"Portadown are on minus one, but they aren't a minus one team," said Healy. "They've got good players and we knew if we didn't come down with the right attitude they could punish us.

"They have picked up some results recently and there aren't too many games they've been out of this season - apart from maybe the two against us.

"I knew it would be tough enough and we have struggled down here before, so it was pleasing to come away with the three points."

The Blues' talented teenager Smyth produced another impressive performance, despite only being on the pitch for 55 minutes, and Healy revealed that his protégé probably shouldn't have played at all.

"Paul struggled last week with the flu. He is still a young kid who has played a lot of games and nobody has shown more faith in him than I have and will continue to do," said Healy. "Hopefully he'll be ready to go again in a big week for us, starting against Ards in the County Antrim Shield semi on Tuesday.

"He scored a similar goal last season with his right foot. He is capable with both feet, technically he is a good player, he scores goals, he gives you energy and he's a good kid who wants to work and wants to get better."

PORTADOWN: McGaughey, Carson, Byrne, Breen, O'Hara, Mackle (Wilson, 64 mins), Shannon, Garrett, Simpson (Hughes, 56 mins), Kirwan, Haire (Parker, 75 mins). Unused subs: Larkin, Mouncey.

LINFIELD: Carroll, Haughey, Stafford, Callacher, Quinn, Ward, Mulgrew, Lowry (Fallon, 64 mins), Smyth (Gaynor, 56 mins), Waterworth (Strain, 75 mins), Millar. Unused subs: Casement, Clarke.

Referee: Mervyn Smyth (Belfast)

Man of the match: Paul Smyth (Linfield)

Match rating: 7/10

Belfast Telegraph

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