Linfield manager David Jeffrey revealed that goalscoring hero Paul Munster almost missed out on a place on the bench before coming on to turn last night's Big Two contest on its head.
It was his reputation for notching important goals that won him the nod over Mark Miskimmin and Jeffrey's decision was more than justified when within 13 minutes of his introduction on the hour Munster scored to put the Blues 2-1 up after falling behind to Glentoran 14 minutes in. Munster also had a hand in Robert Garrett's goal when he iced the cake with the third in injury time.
“Mark Miskimmin played very well against Bohemians on Saturday and quite rightly could feel disappointed at not making the bench,” said Jeffrey.
“I looked at the game and looked at Paul Munster and what you have in Paul is an ability to get you a goal and quite often to get you a goal out of nothing. You look at it and weigh up all the options and it was a cracking strike from Paul to put us in front and not only that, his all-round play was very good as well.”
The Blues are now five points clear of Glentoran at the top of the table and five points from their remaining four games will clinch the Gibson Cup for the 49th time. They will now travel to Dungannon Swifts on Saturday and victory there will put Linfield within touching distance of that title.
Glentoran's caretaker manager Scott Young conceded the title to his club's greatest rivals last night after they surrendered a 1-0 lead, given to them by Gary Hamilton after 14 minutes before BJ Burns levelled and then Munster and Garrett struck in the second-half.
“We showed great character and it's a tremendous result,” said Jeffrey. “We had a lot of the play and we were excellent in the second-half .
“Jamie Mulgrew and Robert Garrett were superb in midfield and there is no bigger compliment than when your opponent is taken off, so it was a big pat on the back for them when Richard Clarke and Ciaran Martyn were substituted.”
In contrast to Young, however, Jeffrey said: “We won't be crowing. I told the players that we haven't won anything yet.”