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Steven Crawford

Matthew Clarke says 'no excuses' as below-par Linfield aim to bounce back

Matthew Clarke is all too aware of the pressures involved in playing for Linfield.

The full-back, who is set to make his 350th appearance for the Blues against Portadown this afternoon, knows defeats are usually followed by crisis talk such are the high standards.

Tuesday night's loss at Crusaders left David Healy's men four points off top spot in the league table and Clarke wants to see a response at Shamrock Park today as they bid to keep pace with the league leaders.

Read more: Linfield Ladies announce name change in "important step" for female players

“It's three points lost, I know it’s not the end of the world,” he said.

“Yes, it’s only our second League defeat in quite a few games, but at Linfield Football Club, if you lose one game it’s a crisis. That’s how we operate.

“Things didn’t go for us on the night (at Seaview).

“We lost Jamie (Mulgrew) in the first half, which adds to a hefty injury list at the club.

“We’ve had quite a few (injuries) from September onwards, but we haven’t complained too much about it, we’ve just got on with it.

“As players, we’ll take responsibility for the performance and the result.

“We let a big crowd of blue men down, we also let down the manager and his staff with the display, that wasn’t acceptable.

“It was nowhere near good enough and nowhere near the standards that we set ourselves. It was a poor performance, no excuses.

“We were second to the ball and we were second best all night.

“Going into the final phase of the game we showed glimpses of what we are about, and we missed three big chances to get back into the game.

“They were massive opportunities inside the six-yard box. When we look at the table at the end of the season, hopefully they will not cost us.

“If one of those had gone it, potentially, it could have changed the dynamic of the match, but it wasn’t to be.

“We never get too high in victory, so we can’t afford to get too down in defeat as well.

“We will now look to put things right on Saturday.

“It’s a difficult venue, away to Portadown.

“It’s important, as a group, we bounce back after the midweek defeat."

Clarke has been around long enough to know things can change very quickly, especially with things so tight at the top.

“We profited after beating Ballymena United on Saturday as results elsewhere went for us. Cliftonville, Coleraine, Larne and Crusaders dropped points," he said.

“But things can change very quickly, and they went against us in midweek, with all the other top six sides winning.

“It’s up to us now to take it game by game and, hopefully, we can stay in the mix.”


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