PREMIERSHIP: David Healy highlights European boost but David Jeffrey left to lament lack of reward

Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Linfield’s chances of European qualification received a Windsor Park boost with the weekend success by 2-0 over Ballymena United.

Goals from Mark Stafford and Kurtis Byrne settled the spoils as Linfield moved into third spot in the Danske Bank Premiership standings.

Linfield manager David Healy. Pic by Pacemaker.

Linfield manager David Healy. Pic by Pacemaker.

“It wasn’t pretty by any means, Ballymena always make it difficult,” said Healy. “The first half was a non-event, we rejigged the formation in the second half.

“We needed the breakthrough and Mark Stafford provided it.

“Kurtis Byrne’s goal was the killer, he will improve, he’s growing into the team.

“He came to us at a difficult time (in January), so we have yet to see the best of him.

“He was unlucky with a shot that hit the post before he scored, but he wasn’t to be denied.

“He’s capable of scoring goals.

“We haven’t hit the heights in terms of our level of performances.

“I suppose we all know there will be no league title at the end of it and there will be no Irish Cup final appearance.

“But our aim is to finish third.”

Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey finished frustrated at defeat.

“I find it difficult to take defeat and there is always a degree of disappointment any time we are beaten,” he said. “But given our circumstances, I was really pleased with the performance and thought the players did tremendously well because we were missing quite a few.

“Of the two goalkeepers, Roy Carroll was the busier, we were undone from a set-piece for the opener then we allowed the ball to come into the box.

“I thought we deserved a share of the spoils and that’s being honest.

“There was obviously some relief in the Linfield camp when they scored because it was the first time I have seen a goalkeeper run the length of the pitch to celebrate a goal – I certainly don’t know what that all was about.

“It’s a learning curve for a lot of the young boys in the team and I thought we played some really good stuff.

“We’ve been to two cup finals, reached the top six again and into the European play-off at the end of the season, in spite of all the problems we’ve had. “Overall, we are pleased with our progress in spite of the fact we have had a horrendous injury list.

“The fact that we have now got Stephen McAlorum and Andrew Burns back from injury was a big plus for us.

“We’ve since learned that Gary Thompson, who had a couple of broken bones in his foot, now faces surgery, while Jonathan McMurray was out with a shoulder injury which has been compounded by a knee problem he picked up against Cliftonville, he must also must have surgery.”