Matthew Clarke programme article

Posted : 24th September 2016

Linfield defender Matthew Clarke spoke to 'Look at Linfield' last week after starring in a professional Linfield performance that delivered three points in Carrickfergus. The left-back was delighted to get the win at a tricky venue, as the Blues ran out 2-0 winners, thanks to second half goals from Ross Gaynor and Aaron Burns.

“Last year when we won 3-0 and Saturday’s 2-0 win at Taylor's Avenue were both similar in that Carrick were well in the game until we came up with a couple of very good goals. It probably could have been more and if we were more clinical, we could kill teams off but overall, it was a good win at a hard place to go to. Carrick battled throughout but I felt our class showed through in the end.“

The Castlederg man has scored five goals in 94 competitive appearances for Linfield, most recently netting in the 5-0 victory against Larne in the League Cup. Clarke also claimed the assist for Ross Gaynor’s opener last Saturday and feels contributing to goals is something he could improve on.

“It definitely is something I’d like to improve. I read Gary Neville’s comments that average fullbacks score six goals a season, so I want to add goals and bring more goals and assists to the team. I’m getting in good positions at times, so hopefully I can do as much for the team as I can.”

Clarke, who is now in his fourth season at Linfield, has been playing fairly regularly since David Jeffrey signed him in May 2013, following a stint across the water with Glasgow Rangers and believes he has firmly settled into Irish League football and is getting better with the more games he gets under his belt.

“I feel I have got better as a player over time with playing games. When I first came home from Rangers, it took me a while to adjust to Irish League football with the physical side of things and not getting as much time on the ball, as you would in England or Scotland. I feel I’ve adjusted well now and I’m becoming more and more comfortable with the more games I play in, so I’m happy with the way I’m progressing at the minute.”

Clarke has his ambitions for the season firmly set on winning trophies and believes it shouldn’t be any other way with the squad Linfield possess and with a club of Linfield’s stature. Having just a County Antrim Shield winner’s medal to his name since joining the club, the former Northern Ireland underage international is hungry to win honours for a club he speaks passionately about.

“We want to push all the way and win the league. It’s been long overdue since Linfield last won the league and it can’t go on any longer for a club of our size and with the squad we have. Every cup we are in, we want to win it and I think that’s just right for the size of the club and the expectations and demands put on the players.”

The 22 year-old is expecting another tough game, as Niall Currie’s high-flying Ards visit Windsor Park this afternoon.

“I played against Ards a few times when they were up the last time and they’re a well drilled side, as you can see from their results in the league so far this season. I think they were unlucky at Ballinamallard on Friday night but they’ll come to Windsor and be well drilled and know what they’re doing. It’s up to us to break them down but we won’t be expecting an easy game, that’s for sure.”

Linfield fans will hope Matthew can continue his fine form whilst giving everything on the pitch for the badge on his chest which he has done admirably since the moment he first walked through the doors of Windsor Park and hopefully, it won’t be too long before the left-back adds to his medal collection with Linfield.
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