Jordan Stewart joy at ‘Andy Waterworth’ moment to keep Linfield pushing forward
Jordan Stewart’s weekend strike may not make his end-of-season highlights reel but it could prove decisive in his pursuit of end-of-season Linfield honours.
Stewart produced the defining moment of the Saturday evening meeting with Portadown by making his mark from a few yards on 11 minutes.
It was a goal built on instinct over inventiveness but a finish that left Linfield clear at the head of the Danske Bank Premiership league table by 10 points.
With Coleraine having lost ground off defeat earlier in the day, Stewart helped the Blues strengthen a position in top spot.
“It’s not always about glamorous goals and we will take any goal that can win you the match,” said Stewart. “I enjoy the scrappy goals as I don’t get too many and it was an Andy Waterworth-type goal today, like a poacher’s goal.
“I always back myself to score goals and think I’m on nine now this season.
“In previous years I’ve maybe not scored as many or been as consistent but I feel I’ve been able to contribute this season.
“At the end of the season it’s all about tallying up the points for the team not any one individual..but it’s always nice to score.
“Playing in that role today gave me a licence to be in and around it as I’m not normally in the box in those situations.
“So I was trying to pick up scraps and it fell to me so I was able to put it away.
“I had a few pops today but got my goal, so that’s the main thing.
“For the goal it was a bit of a pinball situation in and around the box then, thankfully, I got on the end of it at maybe the second or third attempt.
“It was a difficult day for both teams with the conditions.”
It offered Linfield a return to winning ways following the midweek loss to Ballymena United.
“Any goal that wins a game is important but to come down in the difficult weather conditions and off a midweek defeat, you need a reaction,” said Stewart. “It’s difficult to be playing so many games, on Tuesday we were not great but unfortunate not to have picked up something.
“I’ve seen the clip back and it looks like today’s disallowed second goal, which would have killed the game off, was never out of play so you get some going your way and some you don’t, so thankfully one goal was enough.
“We are in a privileged position to be playing and everyone at Premiership level is in the same boat, although it does take a toll with injuries and suspensions and you will have to deal with fatigue.
“But we just need to keep on grinding out results and if you want to be up there come the end of the season then this is the kind of place you need to get three points.”
PORTADOWN: Carney, Hall, McCallum (Guy, 91), Lavery (Croskery, 83), Tipton (Lavery, 83), Salley, Bonis, Wilson, Teggart, Kerr, Tilney.
Subs (not used): Buchanan, Murray, Conaty, Warde.
LINFIELD: Johns, Newberry (Larkin, 65), Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth, Stewart, Millar, Nasseri (Manzinga, 75), Clarke, Quinn, Palmer.
Subs (not used): Moore, Larkin, Manzinga, Popper, Archer, McCoubrey, Montgomery.
Referee: Ross Dunlop.
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