David Jeffrey has heaped praise on Niall Quinn after the young defender lit up Windsor Park with another stellar display on Saturday.
Quinn bolstered his burgeoning reputation with a man-of-the-match performance against Ards.]
The 20-year-old’s two goals provided the platform for an impressive 5-2 win for the Blues at Windsor Park.
Michael Carvill, Matt Tipton – from the penalty spot – and Kyle McVey also netted to see off the spirited visitors, who had taken the lead after 73 seconds through Willie Faulkner.
Ben Roy bagged the visitors’ other goal to keep Niall Currie’s side in contention until Linfield’s late flurry.
“At the start of the season it was a real test of character for Niall. We brought Matthew Clarke in and he did fantastically well,” Jeffrey said of Quinn’s contribution this season.
“Matthew had a little dip, as all young players have, and Niall had to bide his time and work hard to get his chance again.
“Since he has come in, he has taken his opportunity with aplomb. He is only young, and last year’s experience has helped him this year. And he is on a fine run of form.
“Defensively he has improved, and he has always had a strong left foot. He is strong in the tackle, is good in the air, and has a left foot to die for. So I am very pleased.”
Quinn cancelled out Faulkner’s early opener with a dipping free-kick that caught out Graeme McKibben – the Ards keeper palming the ball into his own net.
The defender’s second was another set-piece, this time a delightful curling effort that gave McKibbin no chance.
“His left boot is a lethal weapon,” Jeffrey added.
“On a day like today, with the pitch and swirling wind, when he puts that trajectory on the ball, it is very difficult to deal with.”
Ards boss Niall Currie was forced into an enforced substitution before the break, with goalscorer Faulkner being rushed away to hospital to be at the bedside of his sick son Luca.
The five-month-old, who was being treated for a heart condition, was reported to have improved over the weekend.
“It had a big affect on everyone. My thoughts were just with Willie and his family,” Currie said after the game.
“It puts the defeat into context.
“With regards the football, everyone got on with it and we acquitted ourselves well.
“I just thought we gifted Linfield five soft goals.”