IRISH LEAGUE: Merry Moore enjoys derby debut delight for Linfield against Glentoran

Linfield goalkeeper Alex Moore made his senior debut at the Oval in the derby victory over Glentoran. Pic by Pacemaker.
Linfield goalkeeper Alex Moore made his senior debut at the Oval in the derby victory over Glentoran. Pic by Pacemaker.

Andy Waterworth gobbled up the all-important winner to keep Linfield on title track - but it was rookie goalkeeper Alex Moore who stole the show!

The 30-year-old Waterworth struck midway through the second half of a drab ‘Big Two’ derby confrontation at the Oval.

Andy Waterworth full of smiles after his goal at The Oval for Linfield against Glentoran. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Andy Waterworth full of smiles after his goal at The Oval for Linfield against Glentoran. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Waterworth’s goal keeps Linfield trailing leaders Crusaders by seven points with eight games left to play and also helped pile on the misery as Glentoran now haven’t managed a home win against their greatest rivals since 2011.

But it was 18-year-old Moore who had Blues boss David Healy drooling afterwards. He was given the nod for his debut when Roy Carroll and Gareth Deane were struck down with injury.

“I told Alex at 12.30 that he was playing,” said Healy. “He’s a Linfield supporter who has come through the ranks, his beaming face said it all.

“I’m delighted for him, I told him that I had confidence in his ability, he was grinning from ear to ear.

“I’m not going to say I’m surprised with his display because he is a quality young goalkeeper and he did all was asked of him, his handling was very assured. “He’s training three nights a week with Roy and Gareth, so he’s learning all the time.

“I had no fears in throwing him in for his debut at the Oval for a derby game, he has got a great attitude and our goalkeeping coach, Johnny Williamson, takes a lot of credit.”

The result helped maintain Healy’s unbeaten run against the ailing East Belfast side since moving into the Windsor Park hot-seat.

“I thought we were the better team, creating the better chances,” added Healy. “I actually went in and praised the boys, you are never going to get it easy in a derby game but we did what we had to do to get three points.

“It wasn’t easy on the eye but derby games are about winning.

“I was pleased for Andy (Waterworth), he also scored the winner at the Oval in the Irish Cup and has the habit of scoring big goals on the big stage.”

The usual big travelling support was affected badly due to a boycott called by the Linfield Supporters’ Trust in a response to a complaint from a Glentoran source made to the PSNI about the playing of ‘The Billy Boys’ tune over the Tannoy system when the teams met on Boxing Day. It meant that less than half of the usual Linfield support travelled across town.

“I have no issue with that,” said Healy. “What ever decision the fans take, I’ll back them because they stick with me and the players through thick and thin throughout the season.”

It was another day to forget for Glentoran boss Gary Haveron, whose team have won only three times in front of their home fans this season.

“What we are producing is not good enough for Glentoran,” said Haveron. “I’m not shying away from the fact that results are not good enough, I knew how big this job was when I took over.

“The expectations at this club are massive, I didn’t come into this job with my eyes shut and I knew it would be a big task getting the club into the top half of the table and back up there challenging.

“I also knew it was never going to happen this season, we have a lot of players out of contract in the summer and some will be leaving and that obviously gives us money to play with.

“We have to identify the ones from this group that we want to take forward next year but we also need a good clear-out.

“These boys get paid to be professional and to do a professional job, they should have a personal pride and if they aren’t going to be here going forward they should be putting themselves in the shop window for somewhere else.”