Linfield’s Matthew Clarke targets silverware success under new boss Warren Feeney

Matthew Clarke celebrates his opening goal against Coleraine
Matthew Clarke celebrates his opening goal against Coleraine

Linfield defender Matthew Clarke is ready to deliver silverware success under new manager Warren Feeney.

Clarke played his part in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Coleraine – his two goals sealing maximum points against 10-man Coleraine at the Showgrounds.

The 20-year-old rifled home Kirk Millar’s deft back-heeled pass in the 54th minute, and nine minutes later he curled a perfect left-foot free-kick past Eugene Ferry and into the top corner.

In between the clinical brace was a reply from Coleraine midfielder Neil McCafferty, who converted a sublime free-kick of his own on the hour mark.

The victory elevates Linfield to third in the Danske Bank Premiership table.

It was also the Blues’ second win in four days, and helped ease the pain of an opening day defeat to Portadown.

“This time last week it was all doom and gloom. And now we have two wins under our belt,” Clarke said.

“The opening day of the season can be anything, but we have turned it right round with six points from three away games. We are happy with that.”

Clarke is enjoying his second with Linfield following a spell with Scottish giants Rangers.

He was released by the Ibrox club in December 2012 and returned to Windsor Park in May last year when he signed a two-year deal.

Clarke made 22 appearances for Linfield last season as the Blues finished runners-up to Cliftonville.

Now he is hoping he can help spearhead a genuine title drive under new manager Warren Feeney.

“I made my non-competitive debut in the Rangers first team in pre-season two years ago,” Clarke said.

“We played Stenhousemuir and Morton in friendlies, and I got minutes in both games and I trained with the first team during that time.

“I had a double groin knock which set me back two or three months, and then after Christmas I got the message that I would be leaving the club.

“I decided the best thing was to come home and start again, and see where it went from there.

“I played over 20 games last season. I am really enjoying it. Hopefully we can kick-on this season and keep battling at the top end of the table.

“Everyone is hungry to succeed and the title is the one we want.”

Coleraine boss Oran Kearney was left frustrated by a second defeat in the space of four days.

The Bannsiders also had midfielder Joe McNeill sent off for a head-butt incident with Aaron Burns.

“I think individual errors let us down today. They were indefensible,” he said.

“What Joe did, even though there was minimal contact, rules are rules. Joe knows what he did, and he is devastated in there.”