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‘That goal will do him the world of good’ – Linfield boss David Healy hails Ethan Devine’s crucial scoring impact


Linfield's Ethan Devine celebrates scoring his equaliser against Cliftonville (INPHO/PressEye/Stephen Hamilton)

Linfield's Ethan Devine celebrates scoring his equaliser against Cliftonville (INPHO/PressEye/Stephen Hamilton)

INPHO/Presseye/Stephen Hamilton

Linfield's Ethan Devine celebrates scoring his equaliser against Cliftonville (INPHO/PressEye/Stephen Hamilton)

Ethan Devine rescued a point for Linfield at Cliftonville on Tuesday night and manager David Healy was thrilled to see his new arrival immediately repay him with a timely goal at Solitude.

Trailing 2-1 in the late stages of their top-of-the-table clash, the 20-year-old – who was signed from Knockbreda earlier this month – grabbed the equaliser as he glanced in Matthew Clarke’s cross.

The result keeps Healy’s side one point clear of rivals Glentoran at the top after Devine’s header and Clarke’s earlier strike were cancelled out by a double from the excellent Jamie McDonagh for Cliftonville.

But it was Devine’s praises that Healy was singing after the game, lauding the young forward for the impact he has made in his brief time at Windsor Park and backing him to only improve with the more game time he gets.

"He’s a big, strong boy. The goal will do him the world of good,” praised the former Northern Ireland striker.

"He’s still short, he played 60 (on Monday) for the reserves to catch up. He is going to take a bit longer because he’s come in and missed a lot of football in December, but he’s a handful, he works hard, he’s keen to learn.

"The boys have taken to him in the dressing room for his attitude alone and he’s got a certain amount of ability which will help him along the way.”

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The game itself was another great advert for the Irish League as two of this year’s heavyweights went toe to toe and served up a classic at Solitude, which was nip and tuck the entire night.

McDonagh gave Cliftonville the lead, which Clarke negated, before the Reds hitman struck again and looked to have secured all three points, which would have moved Paddy McLaughlin’s side just two points off the top again.

But in came Devine off the bench, a 69th-minute replacement for Chris McKee, and he provided the telling contribution which has Linfield one point clear of Glentoran, with Cliftonville a further four points off the Glens.

“They’re a good side and they made us work hard tonight,” admitted Healy. “We should have been a bit better on the ball, we had some nice moments in the first half but nothing really clinical or in behind them.

"We changed it at half-time, altered the formation slightly and it got us back into it. The disappointing thing was the second goal because if it had stayed 1-1, you could have got a bit more of a stranglehold on the game and we could have gone on and got a winner, but we found ourselves chasing.

"The players responded well, so credit to them. Lots of positives for me. There’s a lot of things you want to improve on, you always do, but plenty to be happy with.”

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