David Healy delighted as Linfield return to the Premiership summit with demolition of Ballymena United

​Linfield boss David Healy beamed with pride after watching his team roar back to the top of the Sports Direct Premiership table after their 4-0 demolition of Ballymena United at Windsor Park.
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A delightful double strike from Matthew Fitzpatrick, garnished with goals from Kirk Millar and Kyle McClean helped the Blues shoot two points clear of reigning champions Larne.

It was hardly a classic, but Healy insisted the three points were vital, especially with a busy festive schedule just around the corner.

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“I’m always happy to be at the top of the table at this stage of the season,” he said. “Any manager that says he doesn’t look at the table is telling lies.

Kyle McClean was on the scoresheet for Linfield as the Blues defeated Ballymena United 4-0 at Windsor Park. PIC: INPHO Brian LittleKyle McClean was on the scoresheet for Linfield as the Blues defeated Ballymena United 4-0 at Windsor Park. PIC: INPHO Brian Little
Kyle McClean was on the scoresheet for Linfield as the Blues defeated Ballymena United 4-0 at Windsor Park. PIC: INPHO Brian Little

“Managers tell porkies...we all know where we are in the table. It’s nice to get back to the top again – I knew the importance of taking three points.

“Again, people say they don’t look at the table or whatever else, but you have to look at it. For instance, we are due to play Glenavon in a few weeks’ time.

“If it had been six or seven weeks ago, you would have thought differently because they were bottom of the table and struggling, but now they’ve won the last five games on the spin and are up into mid-table.

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“I guarantee if you ask any of the managers their next eight fixtures they could rhyme them off, as they should do, because that’s our job.

"I need to know who we are playing, when we are playing and what kind of form our opponents are in.

“So, I was fully aware of the situation in terms of going back on top.

"We hadn’t played since we lost to Larne (at Windsor Park). That narrowed the gap to five points, and they then played twice since that, so it put extra significance on the game.”

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Healy was not only thrilled with Fitzpatrick’s two goals, but his all-round contribution to the side.

“As a centre-forward, Fitzy was in and around where strikers should be,” he added. “It was a bit of brilliant play by Joel Cooper for the first one. Fitzy managed to take the pace off the ball before scoring.

“Fitzy has scored a lot of goals like his second one, getting his head on a cross from Kirk (Millar).

"He’s capable of getting himself into those positions. Apart from his goals, Fitzy’s work rate certainly can’t be faulted, and his all-round play has been good. I was pleased with him.

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“It was a hard-fought win...we were good in large spells of the game and we got our goals at good times.

"Let’s not take anything away from Ballymena, I know they are not probably in their best moment at the minute in terms of their League form, but they worked hard for their manager (Jim Ervin).

“They were coming off a five-goal defeat by Glentoran, so I knew there would be some sort of reaction.

"They were hard-working and honest and it took us a while to break them down.”

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Ballymena United boss Jim Ervin insists his team’s season will not be defined against teams like Linfield, but they are still being punished for individual errors.

“Once again, people haven’t done their jobs, it’s as simple as that,” he said. “Mistakes are costing us big time every week.

“Cooper walked past two players for the first goal, there wasn’t a tackle put in. Then, we were done from our own free-kick in Linfield’s half...15 seconds later the ball is in our net.

“Yes, we showed more fight and urgency after the break and if Isaac (Westendorf) had put away his chance when he goes through one-on-one with the goalkeeper, it could have been different.

“I’ve no complaint about our second-half performance – we were good on the ball, and we made good decisions.”

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