While Thursday’s win over Ballinamallard United may not have been easy on the eye, Linfield boss David Healy believes the nervy victory could prove crucial in this season’s title race.
The Blues laboured to a narrow 2-1 success over the Mallards at Windsor Park.
Andy Waterworth’s opener was cancelled out by Adam Lecky’s equaliser, before Ryan Morris’ unfortunate own goal ensured Healy’s men claimed all three points.
The triumph saw Linfield close the gap at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership to just two points, with leaders Crusaders preparing to face Dungannon Swifts on Saturday.
“We will take the result over the performance, because at this stage of the season it is all about winning games,” Healy said.
“Did we deserve it? In my eyes it was a fair result. We had decent chances in both halves. We should have scored more.
“Ballinamallard had chances too and might feel they should have come away with something. We have great spirit and mentality, and while the quality wasn’t great tonight, we got the win.
“It is all about results at this stage of the season. It is results like this that can lead to you winning titles, you never know.
“We could be looking back on this result as being the big one when we finish the season.”
Healy believes his players may have started feeling some title pressure as they continue their pursuit of Crusaders.
“There were some nerves. The crowd were anxious and nervous, and sometimes that carries onto the pitch,” the Blues boss added.
“Sometimes there is less pressure when you far behind. Now we have closed the gap on Crusaders, maybe my players are feeling the pressure a little bit more.
“Fair play to the lads. They dug in and got the win. That wee bit of luck we got would have escaped us back in November. So hopefully that can continue.”
Thursday’s defeat means Ballinamallard remain in the bottom two.
“I am gutted. Last week’s defeat against Glenavon was disappointing, but this feels worse,” manager Whitey Anderson said.
“Linfield scored their goal and maybe could have got a second, but after weathering the early pressure I thought we were the better team.”