Belfast Telegraph

Rory Patterson to keep the goals coming

By Graham Luney

Mark McAllister has told Linfield fans the goals will keep flowing despite the absence of star hitman Peter Thompson.

Thompson is recovering from a kidney operation and he may not don a Linfield jersey again until the second half of the season.

But the goals from Pistol Pete's shooting boots had dried up this season and McAllister, with the help of Rory Patterson, Gary Browne and Michael Carvill, plan to make sure it's business as usual at Windsor Park.

Cliftonville arrive at the international venue tomorrow without the suspended Martin Donnelly but the Blues are already flexing their title-winning muscles with only Portadown matching them stride for stride.

McAllister (pictured below with Albert Watson) netted a brace in last weekend's 3-0 home win over Carrick Rangers, taking his goal tally to four for the season while Patterson has five.

The former Dungannon Swifts striker knows there will be added responsibility on his shoulders to deliver in front of goal while Thompson recuperates, but he will relish the challenge.

"I think there is always pressure on all the players to perform - not just the strikers," said the 23-year-old.

"When Peter was scoring goals for fun that took pressure off others, but now that he is recovering from his operation we wish him all the best and hope he's back as soon as possible.

"We now have a good changing room and Rory Patterson has come in with a lot expected of him given his previous goalscoring exploits at Coleraine.

"He had to deal with all the problems that were happening at Plymouth Argyle and now he's the closest thing you'll get to Peter Thompson. It's great we have such a natural goalscorer in the team and there are no divisions or problems in the dressing room.

"I'm my own biggest critic and I always feel I should be scoring more goals. I want to help the team win matches and the best way I can do that is by scoring goals.

"But there are a lot of things that can go right or go wrong this season so all we can do is look after ourselves and try to keep ahead of the rest.

"Our squad is certainly good enough to say we feel we should be winning the majority of our games."

Neutrals would not want to see Linfield turn the title race into a procession and although Crusaders and Glentoran are wobbling, Portadown are doing their best to keep the pressure on the Blues.

The Ports' starting XI is as strong as anyone's and their front two, Matthew Tipton and Kevin Braniff, are arguably the most lethal in the league - certainly on current form, but the Blues' strength in depth keeps them favourites for a 51st title triumph.

"I don't think anyone is surprised that Portadown are up there," added McAllister.

"They have quality throughout their team and that was shown when they beat us. As a striker I can appreciate what Tipton and Braniff bring to the team.

"Kevin is a class act and players like that can win matches in an instant. Matthew Tipton scored two against us. I didn't know a huge amount about him until then, but there are few better players than Braniff.

"I don't think anyone can rush to make judgements. Who knows what will happen between now and the last week in April.

"We'll just have to focus on ourselves and not worry about other teams."

Belfast Telegraph

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