Shayne Lavery can push on after ending goal drought, predicts Linfield boss David Healy
Linfield 3 Institute 0
Linfield boss David Healy saluted striker Shayne Lavery, who ended his goal drought in yesterday’s demolition of Institute at Windsor Park.
The 22-year-old had hit the net only once in the League since October 22 – that was against Warrenpoint Town early last month – and his ‘goal-den’ touch again looked to have deserted him in a game the Blues dominated right from the off.
Even though Andy Waterworth – he scored from the spot – and Mark Haughey had the home fans dancing with delight with first half strikes, Healy’s boys could have made things a lot easier for themselves, only to squander numerous opportunities, while they also came up against an inspired goalkeeper in Ryan Brown.
Lavery, in particular, held his head in frustration on quite a few occasions. But when the easiest chance of the game full to him late in the game, he at last has something to smile about.
“Shayne needed a goal and it was fate that an easy one fell for him,” said Healy. “One thing Shayne doesn’t do is hide when things are not going for him.
“He gives us everything. He looked a bit sharper today, especially in the first half, he was bright and had plenty of energy. His mind was a lot sharper and the goal will hopefully do him a world of good.”
Healy was happy with the win, but admitted his boys should have been out of sight long before the break.
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“We let teams off the hook too easily at times,” he added. “That’s not being disrespectful to Institute.
“They gave everything for the manager and the club.
“But we had so many opportunities to score – but we didn’t. We made wrong decisions too many times. It was a game we needed to win because all the teams around us won, so it was important we took care of our business.”
Had been a boxing match, referee Lee Tavinder would have had every right to call for an early stoppage – Institute were simply battered from the opening whistle.
Waterworth had a goal ruled out on 10 minutes when Daniel Kearns let the ball roll out of play before cutting it back.
After that 19-year-old goalkeeper Brown established himself by producing a series of eye-catching saves, brilliantly pawing away a Bastien Hery drive from distance before clawing out a bullet header from Lavery.
The Blues had to wait until 29 minutes for the breakthrough. Joel Cooper’s lightning pace on the right took him past two defenders, but he was duly upended by the boot of skipper Dean Curry and referee Tavinder had no hesitation in awarding a penalty kick.
Waterworth confidently stepped up to send Brown the wrong way from the spot – it was his 13th goal of the season.
Lavery had another blockbuster flipped over the top by Brown before Haughey gobbled up his first goal for almost two years.
Kirk Millar’s corner kick was flicked on by Waterworth at the near post for the big defender to ram home from practically on the line.
It could have been worse for ailing Institute. Cooper had a low shot beaten away by Brown with Waterworth unable touch home the follow-up before another delicious cross from Millar was headed over the top by Kearns when he really should have converted.
The theme continued after the break. Lavery screwed a great chance past the post before Millar’s free kick was met by Haughey, whose header flicked off the post.
But Lavery was not to be denied. He was presented with a simple tap-in after substitute Jordan Stewart’s shot was again superbly saved by Brown following a wonderful piece of magic on the right by Cooper.
Then, just seconds from time, Brown produced another fantastic response, beating away a close range shot from substitute Ross Larkin. Only for the in-form shot-stopper, it really could have been an embarrassing afternoon for the North West side.
LINFIELD: Ferguson, Haughey (Larkin 84), Callacher, Waterworth (Shevlin 72), Cooper, Millar, Lavery, Clarke, Kearns (Stewart 69), Hery, Mulgrew.
Unused subs: Moore, Mitchell, Reynolds, Casement.
INSTITUTE: Brown, C McLaughlin, Curry, McCready, B McLaughlin, McCauley, Crown, Burke (McIntyre 72), Bradley, Brogan (Green 89), Pomeroy (Dunne 82).
Unused subs: Well, Leppard, McGurk, Stephenson.
REFEREE: Lee Tavinder.
Man of the match: Rory Brown.
Match rating: 7/10.
Belfast Telegraph Digital