Linfield chief Warren Feeney insists he will have no problems ‘lifting’ his players for tomorrow’s potential banana skin Danske Premiership clash against Dungannon Swifts at Stangmore Park.
The former Northern Ireland international is still trying to come to terms with his team’s midweek result at home to Cliftonville. After dominating for 75 minutes, the Blues succumbed to two late strikes from Martin Murray, who instantly whipped two crucial points from under the noses of Feeney’s boys.
It means they now trail table topping Crusaders by three points, with 10 games remaining. It also puts extra significance on their outing at County Tyrone.
“I was gutted in midweek,” said Feeney. “Our first half showing was probably our best performance of the season.
“We really put Cliftonville to the sword. We didn’t give them space . . . we closed them down all over the park.
“We were obviously not going to sustain that for 90 minutes, but I still thought we were comfortable. I thought we had enough in our locker to see the game out.
“But we gave away two poor goals. That’s the thing that disappointed me. I told the boys at half-time that Cliftonville will have a spell (of domination), but we just didn’t react. We threw it away. Our game management could have been better.
“We’ve got to take the positives out of that first half showing and move on to Saturday. Yes, I was gutted, but I’m not one to get too down about things. I’m not a negative person. The boys will be ready to go for what is another massive game at Stangmore Park.”
Feeney knows there can be no more slip ups with the title race reaching a critical stage.
“There are still 30 points to play for,” he added. “We are now three off the lead, but we are four ahead of Portadown. They face the Reds on Saturday, which will be a biggie.
“All the teams at the top have still to play each other. We’ve just to keep focusing on our next game. I think we’ve only been defeated once in 16 matches which is not a bad record, considering we had to play the first seven or eight games away from home which people tend to forget about.
“I’m confident we are in a very good position which must sustain that right until the very end.
“Make no mistake about it, there will be more twists and turns up ahead. We are still in a fantastic position.
“Not only have we to take the positives from the midweek match, but we must also examine the negatives.
“All we can do is focus on what we need to do and put as much pressure on the team above us.”
Linfield will again be without centre back Mark Haughey, who is awaiting results of a scan on a hamstring problem. Striker Peter Thompson will also be missing. Defender Niall Quinn also sustained a calf injury in midweek.
Darren Murphy’s Dungannon have reeled in seven points from a possible nine from their last three games -- beating Coleraine and Institute and drawing with Crusaders.
It has helped pull the Swifts eight points clear of basement side Institute.
“We’ve already drawn with Cliftonville and Crusaders at Stangmore since the turn of the year, so there is no reason why we can’t enjoy another positive result,” said Murphy.