Football/Soccer

Linfield are 'cock-a-hoop' after downing Crusaders at Seaview

Linfield's Jamie Mulgrew celebrates scoring against Crusaders at Seaview on Saturday Belfast Picture by Pacemaker
Pádraig Ó Meiscill

Danske Bank Premiership: Crusaders 0 Linfield 2

LINFIELD manager David Healy has said his players are “cock-a-hoop” after their victory over Crusaders on Saturday made it three wins and three clean-sheets from their first three games of the Dankse Bank Premiership season.

Joel Cooper and Jamie Mulgrew scored for the Blues at Seaview to end the Crues' record of 20 home league games unbeaten and put Linfield two points ahead of their title rivals in the early season standings.

Linfield have also beaten Glenavon and Institute in August without conceding a goal, but Healy is keen to balance the optimism engulfing his squad with a renewed determination to put in the hard yards.

“It continues next week with Cliftonville at Solitude and then we've Moyola in the League Cup, so the players are on a high at the minute, but there's times when you need to rein them in,” he said.

“The players are cock-a-hoop, let's say at the minute, but we'll know when we get back to work on Monday that the hard work starts for Solitude next week and we'll need to be bang at it again, like we were today, to go and get a result against Cliftonville.”

Healy felt the Blues lacked a certain something against their fiercest rivals at times last season and he was happy to see an element of ruthlessness reemerge at Seaview on Saturday.

“I'm obviously pleased with the way the players went about it today because it certainly wasn't easy,” he added.

“Crusaders threw everything at us and the players stood up to it – we lacked that last year in the games against Crusaders away from home, against Cliftonville at times we lacked that cutting edge, so all round, I'm pleased.

“It's important we continue to keep our heads. We picked up yellow cards in the first game at Mourneview, so you don't want to be picking unnecessary cards up, but games like today, you have to stand up and be counted. Although we picked up yellow cards, I thought our all-round performance and professionalism was exceptional down here today.”

Following the frustrations of last season's league campaign, Healy is relieved that the feel-good factor seems to be returning to Windsor Park, and he intends to make that last for as long as possible.

“You get board members coming in after games and I sat with enough board members last year who were despondent after results, but Peter Lunn - the president - came in [on Saturday] and said that was a performance Blue men far and wide could be proud of,” he said.

“That was a Linfield performance today and the standard the players have set three games in, we have to make sure we not only maintain that, but improve on it going further into the season.”

In Saturday's other games, Barry Gray's Cliftonville continued their patchy form when they had to settle for a point at Stangmore Park. For Dungannon, it was their first point of the season, Mark Patton picking up on Jaimie McGovern's poor clearance and lifting the ball over Richard Brush for the opener in the 62nd minute.

The visitors passed up numerous chances before Joe Gormley teed up Jay Donnelly to drill home Cliftonville's equaliser with two minutes left.

Coleraine were held to a 2-2 draw at the Oval, while unbeaten Ballymena came from behind to beat Ards 2-1.

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