Belfast Telegraph

Why Linfield's battling win in Ballymena was perfect to kick-start positive run, explains Healy

Millar time: Linfield winger Kirk Millar celebrates firing Linfield into the lead against Ballymena United on Tuesday night
Millar time: Linfield winger Kirk Millar celebrates firing Linfield into the lead against Ballymena United on Tuesday night

By Stephen Alexander

David Healy believes his Linfield side summoned the spirit of their title-winning adventure of last season to get past the tricky hurdle of Ballymena United on Tuesday night.

A dogged 2-1 victory kept the Blues on the coat-tails of the Danske Bank Premiership's pacesetters, and they still have a couple of games in hand over their rivals as a result of their early-season European heroics.

"It was a hard-fought win and it needed to be," admitted Healy.

"In an ideal world you want to go on and score a third or fourth goal but sometimes as a manager you get more out of seeing a game out maybe 1-0 or 2-1.

"You can get back to the defensive unity and confidence that the players showed last season.

"Ballymena threw everything at it so credit to them - they're really difficult to play against.

"I don't think it should have been as tight as it was. We were so dominant in the first half but even when we got the second goal, we switched off and let them straight back into the game, which was disappointing.

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"In the second half, I still think we created two or three good opportunities and probably should have scored but all in all, I'm pleased with the performance and the response from the weekend defeat (at Glenavon) because coming to Ballymena at any stage is difficult.

"I don't want to keep saying after games that we need a response - now we want to go on a wee bit of a run.

"We've been on runs before but we're still chasing all the top teams in the country at the minute.

"We'll wait in the wings and hopefully keep doing our jobs and see where it takes us," added Healy.

For opposite number David Jeffrey, a sixth defeat in the last seven league games was offset by the manner of his Ballymena side's performance.

"Linfield started very brightly and got two goals ahead but our heads never dropped. We showed great character with an excellent response and a super goal from Adam Lecky (right, with Kenny Kane)," said Jeffrey.

"I thought we were the dominant side in the second half but dominance doesn't win you games if you don't put the ball in the back of the net.

"We had four or five really good chances and with a bit of fortune, on another night they go in the back of the net.

"This time last year, some of those goals go in - at the minute, they're not.

"While frustrated with the result, I can only be very proud of the players in terms of their performance levels.

"What was pleasing was the endeavour, the courage and the commitment of the players.

"Other teams, if they went two goals behind, could drop their heads very quickly and throw the towel in but there wasn't any of that from us.

"There's great character in the team and at the very least, we deserved a point."

Belfast Telegraph


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