Mark Stafford programme article

Posted : 16th September 2017

Linfield defender Mark Stafford was delighted to secure three points in the first ‘Big Two’ derby clash of the season at Windsor Park last Saturday. Speaking to 'Look at Linfield' after the game, the big defender said it was a case of "winning ugly", as well as praising experienced goalkeeper Roy Carroll for a man of the match display.

“We were very happy with the derby win in our last home fixture. We maybe struggled in attack and possibly Glentoran deserve credit for that. I felt we were a bit rushed building attacks. Big Roy (Carroll) made a couple of brilliant saves in the first half to help us keep a clean sheet. Then in the second half, I felt we defended a lot better as a team and in the end were able to grind the win out.”

“It was an ugly win. We didn’t play as well as we know we can play, there’s no doubt about that. However, at the same time you have to give credit to Glentoran for that as they played some good stuff. It was a real positive that the boys showed a lot of character to stand up tall and didn’t hide, which thankfully got us over the line. We will be looking to get three points against Ballinamallard now to keep the pressure on,“ continued Stafford.

The 1-0 victory meant the Blues recorded a fifth win and fifth clean sheet from the opening five league games. Speaking about Linfield’s key to keeping a sturdy back-line, the Irvinestown man advised that there are many factors, with the main ones being hard work and being well drilled.

“Obviously you need a good goalkeeper for a start and we’ve certainly got one of the very best! We know how to defend well as a team and as a unit, which is key. We are capable of defending set-pieces well and also try to manage games as best we can. We always work hard in training on the defensive side of things and thankfully, it’s showing on the pitch.”

David Healy’s team are hoping to keep the pressure on leaders Coleraine, while on the other hand, Gavin Dykes and Ballinamallard are scrapping for points, having picked up just one point so far. Stafford, being an ex Mallard, has a good relationship with the Co. Fermanagh club and the 30 year-old is backing them to turn things around.

“It’s difficult for a club of Ballinamallard’s size to try and attract players, mostly due to their geographical location in the country. They deserve credit for doing so well since coming up to the Premiership and have been a breath of fresh air for the league. I’m sure Gavin Dykes and his backroom team, Andy Crawford and co. will turn things around for them.“

“I am good friends with the Mallards’ club captain James McKenna but unfortunately, he won’t be involved due to picking up a bad injury again. He's had no luck this past season or two. From what I gather, they seem to be enjoying it down there, even though things haven’t been going their way. Hopefully, they can turn the corner soon as they are a great club. As for us, you take it one game at a time, so we’re just concentrating on trying to secure maximum points today.”

Best wishes to the big defender for what will hopefully be another successful season, as he aims to add another three points to the board this afternoon against his former club in what should be a tasty, hard fought tussle at Windsor Park.
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