We deserve the stick we're getting, admits Waterworth
Linfield 1-0 Newry City
Andy Waterworth believes Linfield hit a new low at Windsor Park on Saturday.
It was the striker's 11th goal of the season that spared the Blues' blushes in a Tennent's Irish Cup sixth round clash against a battling Newry City - a game that will not live long in the memory.
Even after the perfect start - Waterworth struck on 17 minutes - David Healy's boys flattered to deceive. They looked like a team that had just met for the first time . . . lacking in belief and confidence.
The cup holders also owe a debt to Kirk Millar, who produced a miraculous goal line clearance late on to deprive the Championship side of a deserved equaliser when John Boyle's header was flicked on by Declan Carville.
When the lights went out midway through the second half due to a power failure in the south Belfast area, it just about summed up Linfield's performance.
Waterworth admits he is mystified why things have turned so horrible wrong for a team that celebrated a treble trophy success last season.
"I just can't put my finger on why we are playing so poorly," he said. "We certainly don't deserve any plaudits and any criticism that comes our way is justified.
"Our confidence levels are low, no one wants to take on responsibility. It's a very bad habit to get into. It's up to the players to inspire each other. Newry City were the better team, there is no question about that. We could have been easily dumped out of the Irish Cup, which would have been an absolute disaster. Thankfully, we are through - and we'll take that. But Newry can certainly feel hard done by.
"They were tactically and technically better, they had more desire than we had. We were hanging on for long periods. We ran out of ideas and didn't cause Newry all that many problems.
"I think they will be a Premier League team very soon. They have quite a few players that have played in the top flight. They realised that we were low in confidence because of our run of poor results. To a man, we were well below par - it's something we have to sort out as a team."
"Our performance summed up our season so far . . . lacklustre and certainly not good enough for Linfield. I know we take a bit of stick at times, but any criticism thrown at us at the minute is fully warranted.
Newry City boss Darren Mullen insists his boys can hold their heads high in defeat. He said: "It's not too often an opposing team gets applauded off by Linfield fans at Windsor, but the boys deserved it. I don't think it was a token gesture. They knew how well we played."
LINFIELD: Deane, Stafford, Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth, Lowry, Stewart (Strain, 64 mins), Millar (Mitchell, 85 mins), Byrne (Rooney, 64 mins), Mulgrew, Quinn. Unused subs: Moore, Robinson, Adamson.
NEWRY: Maguire, Noonan, Mooney, King, Boyle, McCann, S Hughes (Mullan, 88 mins), Carville, McCabe, McArdle (Johnston, 76 mins), M Hughes. Unused subs: Havern, McMahon, Cunningham, Walker, Heaney.
Referee: Lee Tavinder (Dungannon)
Man of the match: Jamie Mulgrew.
Match rating: 4/10