Rampant Linfield have the league title in their sights — and the latest victory, a convincing 5-0 hammering of Dungannon Swifts, moved them a massive nine points clear at the summit of the Irish Premiership table.
One telling factor in the seemingly unstoppable surge to glory has been goal ace Andrew Waterworth, who hit home four goals in the victory on Friday night; and delivered a display which earned praise from David Healy, the delighted Blues boss.
Healy saw his side take a 2-0 lead in just 11 minutes through a Waterworth brace, with the dazzling Jordan Stewart assisting on both occasions. A Jimmy Callacher header made it 3-0 at the interval. And that man Waterworth grabbed two further close-range strikes to make it a comfortable night’s work.
Healy surveyed the league table which shows Linfield nine points ahead of Ballymena United in the race for the Premiership title, with the second-placed Sky Blues having played one game fewer, and said: “It’s a big performance going into the split. We started at a good tempo and got the goals at the right time. In all the success we have had at the club since I have been here, Andy Waterworth has been a big part of it. By his own admission, at times he should score more, but when he gets in the positions he is hard to beat.”
Kris Lindsay, Dungannon Swifts manager, had to concede it was a bad day at the office. He added: “I have no complaints with that result. It was fully deserved and we will take it on the chin and move on. Linfield were a different class tonight and you can see why they are clear at the top of the table.”
It has proved to be a hugely successful season so far for Linfield. And manager Healy has collected awards for his endeavour as well as pushing his charges to silverware on the team front.
He was named Northern Ireland Football Writers’ manager of the month recently for guiding his side to the League Cup as well as three Premiership wins during February.
And it comes as no surprise, given the success enjoyed of late, that it was the second successive monthly award for the Blues coach. Healey says he was delighted to collect the plaudit but made mention of the effort of his players being hugely influential in the accolade.
He said: “It’s a nice feeling to win this award two months running but I know that I’m here because of the efforts of my players. They are the ones that deserve the accolades. They have been superb.”
Healy’s side overcame the challenge of Ballymena United 1-0 in the League Cup final while the Blues also earned Premiership wins over the Braidmen, Coleraine and Newry City to secure their position at the top of the pile.
And Healey added: “Lifting the League Cup has given us a taste of winning trophies and we’re desperate to win more. The league title is now in our hands. It’s up us to continue our good form and deliver the success that Linfield fans expect.”