IRISH LEAGUE: Linfield set for final title push after Ballymena win

Ballymena United's Leroy Millar and Linfield's Paul Smyth
Ballymena United's Leroy Millar and Linfield's Paul Smyth

Linfield boss David Healy knows Saturday’s 2-0 win over Ballymena United at the Showgrounds keeps his side in the race for the Danske Bank Premiership title.

Goals from Jimmy Callacher and Andrew Waterworth gave the Blues the win and three vital league points as they stay in hot pursuit of league leaders Crusaders.

Celebration time for Andy Waterworth against Ballymena United. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Celebration time for Andy Waterworth against Ballymena United. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Only a point separates the top two - as Crusaders were 3-2 winners against Cliftonville - and former Northern Ireland international Healy says that defeat at this stage of the season is not an option.

“All we can do is look after ourselves and we have another massive game against Glenavon on Tuesday night.

“Glenavon got a solid result against Coleraine at the weekend and they will come to Windsor in good form looking to frustrate us.

“But we need to win the three games that are left - anything less and we will not win the league.

“It is a nervous time, it is edgy but that is where you want to be.

“After two games of the split last year the league was over, so this is where you want to be.

“We just need to continue what we have been doing - not conceding goals and scoring goals at the other end.

“We will see where we are at after every game and now it comes down to a mini league where we have got Glenavon, Coleraine and Cliftonville to play.

“They have Coleraine, Ballymena and Glenavon, so hopefully after Tuesday night we are still in there with an opportunity.

“Tuesday night is our last home game of the season and I am hoping for a big crowd.

“It is also the Easter holidays so hopefully they turn up and show their appreciation for the players efforts this season and we send them off with three points,” he added.

And Healy admits Ballymena United made is very difficult for his side.

“It wasn’t easy and they were tough conditions and I knew they would be pumped up after getting beat last week.

“We never looked like conceding a goal today which pleased me.

“And with the attacking threat that Ballymena have this year - they have scored lots of goals.

“So to come away from here not conceding is very pleasing.”

And Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey was more angry with the state of the Showgrounds playing surface than he was about his side’s performance.

“I feel helpless and hopeless. The surface is diabolical. Here we have a top class facility and yet there is no point in having the surroundings and the framework if the pitch is not in good order.

“And to be fair at the start of the season the pitch was in good order.

“But is has been slowing getting worse and it was fantastic to have the Irish Cup semi-final here.

“Tremendous - but on the day of the match I walked the pitch and it was awful.

“And Glenavon and Coleraine gave out about the state of the pitch.

“We have made countless efforts with council employees to lobby councillors but it seems to make no difference.

“And to me their non action means they are not interested in the club, the club’s supporters and we have tried to make the town and the community proud of what we are trying to do.

“And the icing on the cake was the night before we play Linfield there are tracks all over the pitch and we have pictures of cars parked on the playing surface.

“I am hoping that someone will grab the nettle. We are talking about cars driving over the pitch.

“If I had anything to do with the council I would be embarrassed by the state of the pitch.”