IRISH LEAGUE: Linfield boss David Healy wants big performance from his players

David Healy
David Healy

David Healy believes his boys will have the mental toughness to return to a winning routine when they travel to face Coleraine at the Ballycastle Road Showgrounds on Saturday.

Linfield suffered their first defeat of the Danske Premiership campaign when they lost out in controversial circumstances at Cliftonville in midweek.

The result deprived the Blues from replacing Crusaders at the top of the table, but Healy was certainly far from despondent. In fact, he insisted his boys deserved a share of the spoils - at the very least.

“I was disappointed we didn’t get anything out of the game,” said the former Northern Ireland international striker. “We put in a lot of effort and we went right to the final whistle, something we didn’t do in the League Cup defeat at Ballymena.

“We just were not clinical in the final third. We just failed to pick the right pass when it mattered.

“After going behind to a dubious penalty, which I was hugely disappointed about, we got ourselves back into the game early in the second half. Unfortunately, we managed to stay on terms for only a few minutes.

“We surrendered cheap possession and were punished for it . . . we switched off.

“To be fair to the lads, they kept it going right to the end, so they were disappointed to be leaving with nothing to show for their efforts.”

Healy now wants his boys to stand up at be counted at Coleraine.

He added: “I keep asking the players, who is going to step up and be the man? Who wants to be the man?

“It’s in the big games we need our main men. We need someone to take a gamble . . . someone to anticipate something. Or someone to dig us out.

“It was always going to be a difficult game because Cliftonville have improved a lot. We lost our unbeaten record in the league which was a sore one to take, but I’ve said to the players, we’ve got to go again on Saturday.

“It will be equally as tough at Coleraine. We’ve a lot of games in October -- and they are all massive. After the Coleraine match, we’ve Cliftonville again in the Shield and then Crusaders.

“So we’ve got to pick ourselves up. The players have to be ready. We will regroup and hopefully our fans come out again in big numbers to keep backing us they way they have been. We’ll be doing our best to win the game.”

Coleraine boss Oran Kearney, whose team's last defeat was against Cliftonville on September 17, is relishing the prospect of facing his former buddies.

The Bannsiders have crept practically unnoticed into third place in the table and Kearney believes there is still more to come.

Their latest success came at basement strugglers Portadown, where Brad Lyons grabbed a priceless winner for Kearney's men.

In fact, only 48 hours before that, they received the added boost of three points from the IFA, which resulted from their proposed opening match of the season against the Ports, which was cancelled due to the ongoing investigation into alleged improper payments.