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Mark Haughey reveals David Healy's motivation for crucial Linfield goal against Ballymena United

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Mark Haughey heads Linfield in front in their victory over Ballymena United

Mark Haughey heads Linfield in front in their victory over Ballymena United

Mark Haughey heads Linfield in front in their victory over Ballymena United

The choice of music was appropriate at the end of this Windsor Park thriller as David Healy's Linfield tightened their grip at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership table.

'Another One Bites The Dust', a 1980's hit by British rock band Queen echoed around the international arena after 90 minutes of frenetic action that resulted in the Blues roaring 11 points clear with only six games remaining.

Healy and his ruthless blue juggernaut are relentlessly closing on their fourth title in his five years in charge.

They were, however, forced to bare their title teeth against a Ballymena United side that arrived in south Belfast with hopes of claiming a top-six place and, although they just came up short they went down with all guns blazing.

Mark Haughey headed the Blues in front on 16 minutes, powerfully finishing off a delicious delivery from the left by Kirk Millar - it was the defender's first goal of the season.

David Jeffrey's Ballymena, quick and incisive on the break, levelled just before the half hour when Shay McCartan rammed home a brilliant free kick from just outside the box.

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After squandering a number of chances, Shayne Lavery eased the tension when he headed home another Millar cross, after the winger had turned Ross Redman inside out, for his 21st goal of the season.

However, it took a world class save from Chris Johns to prevent Jonny Addis from equalising with practically the last kick.

Once referee Shane Andrews gave the final blast on his whistle, Ballymena had bitten the dust and Freddie Mercury went to work - the Blues knew they had taken another giant stride towards equaling Rangers world record of achieving 55 League titles.

"It was a massive three points for us," said goal scorer Haughey.

"When knew after results this week elsewhere we had to take care of our own business.

"I would be lying to say we don't look at other teams' results, but it comes down to us ... there is no point in teams dropping points and us not capitalising."

Haughey admitted he took a little bit of criticism from Healy a few weeks back about his failings on front of goal.

"The manager was looking at stats and he pointed out that I hadn't scored this season, which was unusual for me," he added.

"Between Jimmy Callacher, Mark Staffford and myself, we've always aimed at setting ourselves a target of hitting double figures.

"We have come close every season, whereas Mark and I have struggled this year, although Jimmy has hit a few. Thankfully, and lucky enough, I got a crucial one against Ballymena.

"It was a great ball in from Kirk. I'm not usually that high up the pitch from open play, but I took a chance."

With a top-six place gone, United boss Jeffrey had nothing but praise for his players.

He said: "I thought we did tremendously well and were unlucky not go get something from the game," he said. "We were undone by two moments of quality."

Meanwhile, Larne have snapped up Ballymena defender Kofi Balmer. It is understood the 20-year-old, who is currently out injured, has signed a pre-contract to join the Inver Park club in the summer.

LINFIELD: Johns, Larkin, Haughey, Callacher, Stewart (Waterworth 81 mins), Millar, Lavery, Clarke, Fallon (Mulgrew 81 mins), Palmer, Cooper.

Unused subs: Moore, Manzinga, Nasseri, Pepper, Quinn.

BALLYMENA UNITED: Graham, Redman, Addis, McKeown, Harpur (Knowles 69 mins), McElroy, McCartan, Waide (Kane 81 mins), Ervin, Kelly, Graham (Wylie 81 mins).

Unused subs: McCutcheon, Keenan, Beattie, Mathieson.

Referee: Shane Andrews.

Man of the match: Cammy Palmer.

Match rating: 9/10.


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