Linfield boss David Healy yesterday stressed his boys were ‘up for a title fight’ after their New Year’s Day win over Crusaders at Windsor Park.
Goals from Andy Waterworth and Jimmy Callacher sent the ‘Blue Army’ home happy as Healy’s boys ended Crusaders’ winning streak at the international venue.
Although Linfield still trail Stephen Baxter’s champions by six points, bullish Healy is adamant his team are in it for the long haul.
“I would like to think we are now back in contention,” he said.
“The gap at the top is now down to six points. The Crues have now lost five points in the last two games, which gives up hope.
“They are still favourites, but hopefully come April, we’ll be there or thereabouts. We are by no means the finished article, but we are starting to lie down a few markers.
“We are going to be challenging because that’s the demands I’ll be putting on my players.
“They have set the standards over the last three games and they were tough fixtures. I know every player in that dressing room would love to win the title.”
It was the Crues’ first defeat by Linfield in 11 meetings, dating back to February 2012.
Manager Stephen Baxter said: “You can’t give away goals like we did and expect to win football games. The second was simply a horror show and we didn’t defend the corner kick at all.
“But I thought our second half performance was fantastic.
“I counted four or five good chances that we failed to take. Our unbeaten run is now over. We have been playing nervously over the past few weeks.
“We can now get back to doing what we do best. It’s a setback, but titles are not handed out at this time of the year.”