Fear fac­tor is keep­ing Blues on fire: Ste­wart

Belfast Telegraph - - SPORT - BY ALEX MILLS

HAT-trick hero Jor­dan Ste­wart be­lieves fear fac­tor is the driv­ing force be­hind Lin­field’s surge at the top of the ta­ble.

David Healy’s boys inched three points clear of the chas­ing pack fol­low­ing an im­pres­sive win over gritty War­ren­point Town at Wind­sor Park on Satur­day.

Ste­wart was the tor­men­tor in chief. Not only did he hit a glo­ri­ous tre­ble, but he pro­duced the type of per­for­mance that had cross-chan­nel scouts flock­ing after him a few years back.

The re­li­able Andy Water­worth also chipped in with a goal to take his tally to an im­pres­sive 23 so far. The Blues are now 10 games un­beaten and, sig­nif­i­cantly have con­ceded only three goals dur­ing that run of re­sults.

Top of the ta­ble, two cup fi­nals loom­ing and an Ir­ish Cup show­down with Cru­saders on the hori­zon, Healy ap­pears to have a recipe for suc­cess.

“The team pretty much picks it­self these days which helps, big time,” said Ste­wart. “Fear fac­tor helps drive us on — and that counts for ev­ery­one in the squad.

“No one wants to go out of the team. It’s good for the gaffer that ev­ery­one is play­ing well. It’s dif­fi­cult for him to leave any­one out, but we know that can change.

“We are still in ev­ery cup com­pe­ti­tion, so that’s why we have such a de­mand­ing sched­ule. When you are en­joy­ing foot­ball, you can’t wait to get back out there again.

“I’m just thrilled to be play­ing a part on a reg­u­lar ba­sis — I’m en­joy­ing my foot­ball again, but

we must keep it go­ing. We haven’t won any­thing yet.

“We maybe top of the ta­ble, but we’ll not be get­ting car­ried away. It’s a long sea­son, we just take each game as it comes.”

Ste­wart not only bagged a hat-trick picked up a per­sonal award even be­fore the game.

He adds: “It was a crazy day. I got the sup­port­ers’ tro­phy for De­cem­ber player of the month. I then scored a hat-trick, got the man of the match award and

Liver­pool won 1-0, so it doesn’t get much bet­ter.

“We’ve a hec­tic sched­ule be­tween now and the end of Fe­bru­ary, which in­cludes the two cup fi­nals, but we are relishing the chal­lenge.”

The for­mer Swin­don Town man ad­mit­ted the Blues had to be pa­tient be­fore War­ren­point Town even­tu­ally wilted.

“War­ren­point were very im­pres­sive in the first half,” he added. “They came out and pressed

us high and played some great foot­ball.

“It took us over 35 min­utes to re­ally get go­ing. The gaffer changed the shape of the team and we started to get a bit higher up the pitch and we be­gan to take over. I thought we were bril­liant in the sec­ond half.”

War­ren­point Town boss Stephen McDon­nell pulled no punches in his post-match anal­y­sis, stat­ing his boys got what they de­served.

He moaned: “I have to ask ques­tions on why we didn’t per­form in the sec­ond half. We didn’t im­pose our­selves.

“Ev­ery de­ci­sion we made was a neg­a­tive one, even when we were in pos­ses­sion. We were go­ing side ways and back ways — we never re­ally looked to pen­e­trate their de­fence.

“I think it’s some­thing in the guys’ heads. Per­haps, it was a daunt­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for some of them walk­ing out at Wind­sor Park.

“I told the guys some harsh truths. There are no hid­ing places in our dress­ing room. I tell peo­ple how it is and if it’s not good enough it’s up to them to put it right.”

He added: “They will have to learn from it. I told them can­not af­ford to pro­duce that type of per­for­mance again next Satur­day be­cause, while the trans­fer win­dow is still open, some of them will find them­selves out of this club.”

Tre­ble top: Lin­field’s Jor­dan Ste­wart cel­e­brates scor­ing as he notches up a hat-trick on Satur­day

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