Linfield victory puts smile back on David Jeffrey’s face

Linfield's Nathan Hanley
Linfield's Nathan Hanley

David Jeffrey believes an honest self-critique helped his players get their title defence back on track on Saturday.

The Blues returned to winning ways with a combative 2-1 victory over Ballymena United at Windsor Park.

Former United midfielder Nathan Hanley opened the scoring in the 26th minute before Gary Browne converted a penalty on the stroke of half-time after being fouled by Gary Thompson inside the box.

Ballymena responded in the second half but could only manage one reply with Aaron Stewart drilling home a low shot in the 79th minute.

Linfield went into the game on the back of a poor 1-1 draw with Glenavon and a 3-0 defeat to Cliftonville.

Jeffrey admitted to holding one-to-one talks with his players as the champions continue to search for answers following a stuttering campaign.

And the Blues boss hopes the honest assessments can help galvanise his players.

“We met with them individually to support and encourage them through this patch,” he said.

“I am pleased they showed that strength of character against a resilient Ballymena side today.

“The players made a lot of ‘I’ statements. They admitted they weren’t doing well enough, and that it wasn’t like us.

“We are a team who have won six doubles in seven seasons. I think we have to recognise all the teams have upped the ante and that the league is very competitive.

“But individually players are holding their hands up.

“There have been other things, such as injuries which have battered us.

“In terms of the squad we have, we haven’t been able to utilise it as we would like.

“But the bottom line is we haven’t been playing well enough consistently. That’s the word - consistency - and we have lacked it this season.

“So we have to try and get back on that run.”