Linfield boss David Healy just couldn’t wipe the smile off his face last night following his team’s crucial 2-1 win over Cliftonville at Solitude.
The former Northern Ireland international admitted he endured his worst moment in football nine days ago when the Blues were dumped out of the Irish Cup by Championship side Queen’s University.
But it was business as usual for his team in north Belfast – the victory taking Healy’s defending league champions back to the top of the Danske Bank Premiership table.
The doom and gloom that hovered after that shock cup defeat – one of the worst results in the club’s history – had been well and truly erased.
Midfielder Andy Mitchell shot the Blues into a first-half lead only for Joe Gormley to level following a horrendous error by new boy Ethan Boyle.
But it was half-time substitute Mark Stafford who sent the visiting fans into raptures by prodding home the winner early in the second half.
“I asked for a response after our cup result and I got it,” purred Healy. “There is no doubting that will live with me for a long time.
“It was a sore one to take, but the only way to heal wounds is to get back winning again.
“In this game, you can’t afford to dwell on things.
“This was probably the toughest possible fixture we could have faced after that cup result.
“The group had a good chat and talked things through, the boys stood up to the test.
“I must say the conditions were horrible for both sides, but I thought we were tremendous in the second half against the strong breeze.
“We were forced into a reshuffle at half-time after Mark Haughey picked up a groin injury.
“Stafford is always a threat from set-piece situations, and I was delighted for him when he got the second goal.
“We’ll certainly not be getting carried away, it was a great win, but it’s still only three points.
“There are a lot of other big games up ahead.”