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David Healy outlines frustration after Linfield held at home by Coleraine

Linfield 0-0 Coleraine


Kirk Millar in action against Coleraine's Josh Carson.

Kirk Millar in action against Coleraine's Josh Carson.

Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

Kirk Millar in action against Coleraine's Josh Carson.

Linfield last night extended their lead at the top of the table, but manager David Healy believes it was two points dropped against Coleraine at Windsor Park.

With Larne slipping up across town at Cliftonville, Healy's boys failed to take full advantage against Oran Kearney's rugged, stubborn Bannsiders.

Although the Blues' Niall Quinn rapped the post in the first-half and Shayne Lavery headed a simple chance wide after the break, it took a special save near the end from goalkeeper Chris Johns to keep out an effort from Coleraine substitute Eoin Bradley to stop all three points slipping away.

Linfield may now be three points clear in the race for the Danske Bank Premiership title but Healy reckons it could have been even better had they been more careful in the final third.

"I'm a little bit frustrated with the result," he said.

"There were spells in the game when I thought we moved the ball better than them and we created the better opportunities.

"Although we were in the final third quite a lot, I'm disappointed we couldn't unlock their defence, but they are a good side, they have been on a decent run.

"It's a clean sheet and we haven't lost the game. It means we go into Tuesday's match against Glentoran with a small cushion at the top.

"I'll analyse the game when I play it back and pinpoint where we could have done better. My assistant manager (Ross Oliver) counts clean sheets - I don't. I count points on board and the goals we score.

"Admittedly, we have conceded far too many goals this season. I suppose both teams deserved something out of the game."

It was hardly surprising the first-half was tight, tedious and tense with very few clear-cut scoring chances at either end.

In fact, the Blues had to wait until three minutes before the break for their first tangible sniff at goal. Jordan Stewart and Lavery combined to set up Quinn, whose low drive ricocheted off the base of the post.

Prior to that, it was a sparring session between two of the League's heavyweights, both probing and teasing craving a knockout blow.

Linfield's Kirk Millar did produce a wonderful delivery from a free-kick early on, but there were no takers at the back post. Then, at the other end, Stewart Nixon latched on to a punt from goalkeeper Gareth Deane and found Matthew Shevlin in the middle, but his tame effort trickled into the gloves of Johns.

Stewart produced the half's outstanding moment on 21 minutes. He picked up a Quinn cross, dropped the shoulder to take him clear of Stephen Lowry and Evan Tweed, only to see his rasping 25-yard drive flash inches past.

Midfielder Kyle McClean forced Deane into his first save of the evening just after the restart. Again, the diminutive Stewart was the orchestrator whose dancing feet earned him space on the edge of the box and, when he threaded a pass to the former St Johnstone man, his raking shot was flipped over the bar by the alert shot stopper

Lavery should really have won it for the home team 11 minutes from time.

The impressive Stewart this time left Josh Carson wanting on the right and when he flighted in a wonderful cross, Lavery could only direct his header wide of a gaping goal.

But with the clock ticking down, it took a wonder save from Johns to prevent Bradley firing the Bannsiders into the lead following a dazzling solo run from Jamie Glackin.

"I have to be content with a draw, which I think was a fair result," said Coleraine boss Oran Kearney.

"There were not massive chances for either side and both could have won it in the last 10 minutes. There was a header from Lavery and we had a big chance for Skinner (Bradley). It was one of those ones if he makes a good connection, it's a goal.

"I would have taken the three points if we could have snatched it in that way, but overall I'm satisfied to be leaving with a point."

LINFIELD: Johns 7, Haughey 7, Callacher 7, Stewart 8, Millar 6 (Nasseri, 72 mins, 5), Lavery 6, Clarke 6 (Manzinga, 72 mins, 5), McClean 7, Fallon 7 (Mulgrew, 72 mins, 6), Pepper 7, Quinn 7. Unused subs: Moore, Stafford, Newberry, Palmer.

COLERAINE: Deane 7, Kane 7, Canning 7, Lowry 6, Carson 7, McConaghie 7, Tweed 6 (Jarvis, 81 mins, 5), Parkhill 6, Glackin 6, Nixon 6 (Wilson, 72 mins, 5), Shevlin 6 (Bradley, 78 mins, 5). Unused subs: Gallagher, O'Donnell, Allen, Brennan.

REFEREE: Andrew Davey (Bangor) 7.

Jordan Stewart was the most creative player on view and was unlucky not to have won it for the Blues.

Stewart produced a moment of magic, waltzing past two opponents before lashing a shot inches wide of the target.

In what was really an incident-free tie, Andrew Davey made all the right calls at the right time.

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