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Waterworth on fire for Linfield but Spike hits ref with verbal volley


You beauty: Aaron Burns and Michael Gault hail Andy Waterworth

You beauty: Aaron Burns and Michael Gault hail Andy Waterworth

You beauty: Aaron Burns and Michael Gault hail Andy Waterworth

Linfield 4 Ballymena United 1: Football is all about opinions and those opinions were certainly divided at Windsor Park on Saturday. Ballymena United boss Glenn Ferguson arrived at his post-match press conference with the words: "I'm not going to miss and hit the wall."

The assembled hacks collectively held their breath, waiting to see if the Linfield legend would talk himself into trouble with Irish FA disciplinary chiefs.

But 'Spike' was in such a foul mood, he didn't really give a jot about that.

He proceeded to lambast referee Hugh Carvill and ended his thoughts with the memorable words: "I hope Hugh Carvill can go home tonight and enjoy his bottle of wine or meal with his wife because it will be hard for me to digest."

The Sky Blues boss was fuming after Carvill awarded Linfield a spot-kick in the 59th minute. His side were already trailing 2-1 and he knew if Andy Waterworth stepped up and rounded off his hat-trick it would be game over.

Waterworth was caught by keeper Dwayne Nelson and hit the deck. "It was definitely a penalty," said Waterworth afterwards.

"Dwayne caught me. I was going down but there was definitely contact."

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Blues boss David Jeffrey shared Waterworth's view but Ferguson said the assistant referee informed Carvill on two occasions that it wasn't a penalty. The whistler clearly disagreed with his assistant and he later told Ferguson: "It was a penalty in my opinion."

Then, just to rub salt into Sky Blue wounds, their skipper Allan Jenkins was shown a straight red card a minute later for saying a little too much to the man in the middle.

Carvill said it was "foul and abusive language" – including a reference to cheating, which officials take a very dim view of.

In those few lively minutes, United's hopes of a rare win at Windsor Park went up in smoke and the steam was still coming out of Ferguson's ears after the game.

"It's tough enough coming here," he said.

"Even with ten men we could have got something but the penalty changed everything as the referee in his wisdom decided to give it.

"Why wasn't Dwayne booked if he brought him (Waterworth) down in the box? In my opinion the referee was looking through a crowd of players.

"At 2-1 we were well in the game and we could have got something.

"The linesman is looking straight across and he can see what's happening and he said no twice. Andy Waterworth was going down before Dwayne got there.

"I was surprised when the referee told me what Allan (Jenkins) had said. Allan's too long in the game to do that. He's 32 and just frustrated by the officials. It's not in his nature to talk to a referee like that.

"Some of the bookings handed out were ridiculous. You can't have a contact sport now.

"There's too many players watching diving in Spanish football on a Saturday and Sunday night. I want my players to be honest, to take a tackle and make one.

"Officials can't be beyond criticism.

"I'm just giving my opinion which the referee has done. I'll take his opinion on the chin and he can take my opinion on the chin. I believe he cost us the game and he's got to be prepared to take the criticism I'm directing at him."

While Ferguson (pictured) was seething, Waterworth was smiling after netting his first hat-trick in senior football.

"I have been on two goals about 15 times and missed sitters and open goals so I'm delighted to get my first treble," he said.

"It was on my mind a bit when I took the penalty but I had a feeling we would get one and I knew I wanted to take it if Bru McCaul wasn't starting.

"It's been a frustrating time being out injured. I was devastated with the injury but the club has looked after me so well and this has been a great day. It was a 100% penalty. I joked with Dwayne because he saved my last one at the Oval but it was a penalty. I was going nowhere but he did trip my heels."

Blues skipper Michael Gault made his 450th appearance for Linfield but Waterworth stole the show.

His opener in the 10th minute was a close range header after stunning build up play from Mark McAllister and Jamie Mulgrew.

His second nine minutes later was a simple finish after Michael Carvill's cross had beaten Nelson.

The Blues were coasting, 2-0 in front at the break but substitute Gary Liggett put the game back on a knife-edge with a superb volley six minutes after the restart.

But then came the penalty award on 59 minutes. Waterworth converted and Jenkins took the walk of shame for protesting too much.

In injury time, Ballymena teenager Rodney Brown inflicted more pain on his hometown club with his first goal in Linfield colours.

"I thought we won a lot of individual battles and scored high quality goals," said Blues boss Jeffrey. "It was the quickness of Andy's feet that earned the penalty and we built on that."

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