IRISH LEAGUE: David Healy calls for ‘mental strength’ from Linfield

Linfield substitute Adam Salley fires inches over with an acrobatic volley in the final seconds of Saturday's game
Linfield substitute Adam Salley fires inches over with an acrobatic volley in the final seconds of Saturday's game

Linfield boss David Healy has demanded more “mental toughness” from his players.

The Blues were forced to rely on Aaron Burns’ late equaliser to snatch a share of the points against Carrick Rangers on Saturday.

Burns – who had a first-half penalty saved – struck in the 85th minute to keep Linfield top of the Danske Bank Premiership.

Carrick had led courtesy of Miguel Chines’ 67th-minute penalty, and the visitors had chances to put the game beyond doubt before Burns punished the prolificacy with a clinical late strike.

It was a get-out-of-jail card for Healy’s men, whose abject performance was met with some groans from the home support.

“The players have to learn how to cope with the frustration from the stands,” Healy said. “There are players who have been here a long time. I have been booed off the pitch numerous times from my own fans, and booed when I gave the ball away. So I understand the way it is.

“I just want more mental toughness from my players. They need to demand the ball and want to play. I see the quality during training. It is something they have to take into the games.

“I understand the fans’ frustration. I am the same. I want to win every game and every trophy. I know that isn’t possible but I will give it everything.

“Those are the standards I set myself, and hopefully it is the same for the players playing for Linfield Football Club.

“It is going to be tough, and maybe some tough love will be needed.”

Burns had a 38th-minute penalty saved by Brian Neeson after Andy Waterworth had been tripped in the area by Aaron Traynor.

Joe McNeill hit the woodwork for Carrick before the visitors were awarded a penalty of their own in the 67th minute.

Chines was tripped by Matthew Clarke inside the box, and the striker dusted himself down before sending Blues keeper Ross Glendinning the wrong way.

Conor McCloskey was wasteful in front of goal as Carrick continued to let Linfield off the hook.

And in the 85th minute Gary Haveron’s men were made to pay.

Stephen Lowry threaded a pass through to Burns inside the box, and the winger remained composed before dinking his shot past the advancing Neeson.

“It was a game of missed opportunities for us – very frustrating,” Carrick boss Haveron said. “We could have scored three or four today. If we had nobody could have complained.

“But I can’t be too hard on my boys. We got something out of the game which is pleasing.”