Linfield Swifts boss Michael Gault has tipped talented teen Liam McStravick for big things following another stellar display for the young Blues on Monday night.
Gault's Swifts swept past strugglers Newry City Reserves 8-1 at Midgley Park to move top of the Under 20 Development League.
Noah Stewart opened the scoring after fifteen minutes, before Newry managed to pull a goal back in the 26th minute through Michael Adegboyega.
That would prove to be a consolation, as McStravick, fresh from scoring on his debut off the bench for the first team last week against Annagh in the League Cup, restored Linfield's lead on 35 minutes.
Aodhan Doherty gave them a two-goal cushion going in at the break when he netted the home side's third goal three minutes before half time.
Arberi Karrabecaj added a fourth three minutes after the restart, with Doherty then getting his second and the Swifts' fifth goal of the evening on 66 minutes.
Aaron Boyd also bagged a brace, with a goal from substitute Leon Boyd sandwiched in between as the Blues made it another miserable evening for bottom side Newry, who are still yet to pick up a point eleven games into the season.
Manager Gault was delighted with the nature of the victory, which enabled his side to extend their unbeaten run to nine games and leapfrog Crusaders into top spot with a game in.
He was particularly impressed with their second half showing after a slow opening period.
Gault said: "I put out a very young side but looking at the table, obviously we are sitting towards the top and Newry are at the bottom, so we expected to win the game.
"But we knew we had to go out and give a professional performance. The first half was tight, and we managed to get a few goals before half time, but I thought the second half we scored some very good goals and overall it was a good performance."
The former Linfield captain was also pleased that his side showed a ruthless streak, which at times they lacked last season.
"At Linfield you have to think of the goal difference, and you need to want to be relentless and go on and score as many goals as possible," he added.
"We can't feel sorry for the opposition, a few times last year we were beaten heavily, and we didn't enjoy the feeling, so we have to be ruthless."
Gault heaped praise on McStravick, who seems to be the latest from the Linfield conveyor belt of talent destined for big things in the game.
He said: "I'm delighted when he comes to play with U20s as Liam is a brilliant player. He was at Linfield before and then had a spell as Cliftonville where he was exceptional in games against us, so I was delighted David Healy went out and signed him.
"He has been training in our full-time environment and last week he came off the bench scored a good goal and made a lively contribution. He is a confident young boy but not overconfident; he knows he has talent, but he doesn't think he is too big to play for the U20s.
"He works hard and has a great attitude. I was delighted to see him with the first team and hopefully there are many more appearances to come."
He believes that McStravick's breakthrough into the first team shows that the opportunities are there for those who perform week in week out at U20 level.
"David Healy likes to give youth a chance and if you're doing well with the U20s and in training with the first team, he will promote them," Gault said.
"Linfield haven't done particularly well in the league so far and aren't where they would want to be so there could be opportunities for boys to step up and Liam is the prime example of that, so long may it continue. "
Newry boss Anthony Todd thought that the scoreline didn't tell the full story of the game, and that his side's first half performance in particular merited more.
"The aesthetics of the score line doesn’t fully tell the entire story of the game. Our team started well in the first half and were deservedly on level terms mid-way through. Buoyed by the equaliser I felt we took the game to Linfield and remained competitive throughout the first half," he said.
Todd acknowledged that his side were up against the very best in the country and was pleased that they are now able to test themselves against such high calibre opposition week in week out, after promotion, irrespective of results.
"Linfield are an excellent team and are clear leaders in the development of youth players. We have found the step up (to the Premiership) to be invaluable and we are gaining experience week on week," he added.
"We must continue to focus on and understand the importance of player development versus winning at all costs, after all it is a Premiership Development League."
Elsewhere, Glentoran made it back-to-back victories since their defeat in the Big Two derby to Linfield, defeating Larne 3-1 at Inver Park.
Portadown bounced back from last week's disappointing loss against Crusaders by beating Coleraine 4-2 in an exciting encounter at Shamrock Park. Aaron McNeill's side were able to take home all three points courtesy of goals from Reece Jordan, Gledis Cakaj, Don Tantale and Goncalo Monteiro, with Shea Curran and Luke Kelly on the scoresheet for the Bannsiders.
Glenavon are now unbeaten in five games following a 2-0 victory away to Ballymena. The result, coupled with the fact that teams around them were not in action, moved the young Lurgan Blues up to fifth in the table.
At Stangmore Park on Wednesday, Crusaders moved level on points with Linfield after a narrow 2-1 win over Dungannon ensured they secured back-to-back league victories.
Cliftonville's three game winning streak ground to a halt at Solitude as they were beaten 2-1 by a mid-table Carrick side.
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