Linfield’s David Healy aware every game counts in bid to close down league’s leading lights with win at Dungannon Swifts as Kris Lindsay targets home gains
Linfield’s defence of the Premiership crown sits three games behind the current leading lights due to a summer European adventure and boss David Healy is aware of the need to make every fixture count.
Crusaders extended the gap as current league leaders to 10 points over the title holders with last Friday’s single-goal success at Seaview.
It marked the first goal conceded by the Blues in Premiership play since August 17.
Four consecutive wins between that August reverse to Coleraine and the Crusaders defeat yielded 12 points and a goal difference bolstered by the same figure in pursuit of closing the gap.
Now the Blues return to Dungannon for the second time in four days having enjoyed midweek League Cup success but in search of Premiership points.
“Leagues are not won in October, there’s plenty of time to respond, we have games in hand,” said Healy recently on the club’s official website. “But it’s important that when the games-in-hand do come around we take care of ourselves and do the business.
“The pitch was perfect (on Tuesday) but conditions not ideal so credit to the players for some of the football played, they managed the game and got goals.
“They continued to keep playing and playing and playing.
“We got done with the goal at Seaview trying to play but that’s the way we want to play,
“We are going to concede goals at times, maybe the players and myself need to be a bit cuter at times and go a bit longer but when good we are difficult to play against and we will continue to play that way.
“It will be a completely different game (on Saturday), the scores go back to nil and we have to start all over again.
“We expect a tough game, it is never easy down there.”
Dungannon Swifts boss Kris Lindsay will continue to put his faith in home potential despite Tuesday’s loss to Linfield at Stangmore Park..
A midweek League Cup exit to Linfield sets up this weekend’s Danske Bank Premiership date as either an opportunity for the title holders to secure a second successive success in County Tyrone - or chance for Lindsay’s Swifts to gain revenge for the knockout blow by gaining a welcome points boost.
Ten of the Swifts’ 14 league points this season have come in front of the home support and Lindsay will maintain a positive approach to the final leg of back-to-back dates with the Blues.
“We know how difficult it is going to be but go into the game with Linfield free from pressure with nothing to lose, so it’s a chance to be positive,” said Lindsay. “Everyone knows the strength-in-depth of this current Linfield squad and in the cup tie they replaced Shayne Lavery and Mark Stafford with Andy Waterworth and Ryan McGivern.
“We can look back on the cup defeat and take positives from aspects, certainly we cannot continue to concede early.
“It would be dangerous to simply sit back, however, so with playing at home our goal is always to go and create chances and get that balance between proving hard to beat but keeping an attacking approach.
“Goalkeeper Sam Johnston is out with a groin injury and teenager Conner Byrne stepped in at late notice midweek and did his reputation no harm.
“But Conner is still only 16 years old I think and although a quality prospect, we must also balance that out with the nature of this weekend’s league game, so it is a situation we will analyse heading into Saturday.”