Linfield boss Jeffrey relishing title clash with Reds

Linfield manager David Jeffrey
Linfield manager David Jeffrey

David Jeffrey says he cannot wait for Saturday’s mouthwatering clash with champions Cliftonville.

The Blues head into the business end of the season two points clear of the Reds after both teams surprisingly dropped points at the weekend.

It is all set up for a barnstorming end to the season and the Linfield boss is relishing the challenge.

“This time last year we were 20-odd points behind Cliftonville, we were miles away,” said Jeffrey after the game.

“That was because that particular squad was coming to the end of their time.

“We have commenced a rebuilding process and are actually ahead of schedule. We wanted to be back competing and we are doing that well.

“Cliftonville are a very talented, mature squad similar to ourselves when we went on a run of winning trophies and they are in a very strong position.

“Next week’s game will decide nothing, it will go right down to the wire,” he added.

“For the neutral it certainly makes for good viewing, and for those who lambast Irish League football it’s not bad for a wee league from Northern Ireland.

“These are the games you want to be involved in, I can’t wait.

“I’m looking forward to every single game. When I think where we were this time last year it was absolutely horrible.

“But to finish this part of the season two points clear with five games left is absolutely brilliant...things dreams are made of.”

Jeffrey has been in the game long enough to know teams will relish putting a spanner in the works of his title charge. His side nearly came unstuck against a determined Coleraine side on Saturday.

Both sides had plenty of chances to take all three points in an enthralling goalless draw. Jeffrey though was disappointed with a couple of refereeing decisions.

“The ref was good enough to give me five minutes in his changing room after the game. But there were two key decisions for me today,” he said.

“Once when Mark McAllister guided the ball into the path of Andy Waterworth who scored, but a foul was given against Mark in the build up. Stephen Douglas told me afterwards there was no way it was a free kick.

“The second was when Jamie Mulgrew went down in the box, I thought he was clearly obstructed and a stonewall penalty and the Coleraine keeper Eugene Ferry told me likewise.

“The ref said he didn’t see enough to give it, but I question that from ten yards. What have you got to do to get a penalty then?”

Coleraine boss Oran Kearney also couldn’t believe the game finished without a goal.

“It was a great game and a great 0-0,” he said. “There’s very few goalless draw which you could say were as exciting as that today.

“There was plenty of chances at both ends, I just can’t believe it finished scoreless.

“I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t come away with all three points, but I’m sure Linfield are probably saying the same thing.”

Philip Lowry should have put the visitors in front on 10 minutes but he couldn’t direct Jamie Mulgrew’s cross on target.

At the other end Gareth Tommons tested Jonathan Tuffey with a header on 26 minutes, while at the other end Mark Haughey did the same with Eugene Ferry.

Lowry went close again seconds later after BJ Burns played him in.

Coleraine spurned a glorious opportunity on 58 minutes as Tommons latched on to the ball after a slip by Sean Ward, but his shot was blocked by the legs of Tuffey.

Linfield had Aaron Burns to thank for keeping the score at 0-0 with 11 minutes to go as Eoin Bradley’s goal-bound header from Harkin’s corner was headed off the line and on to the bar to safety by the midfielder.