Tiernan Lynch hails Larne's own ‘Joe The Goal’ after scoring winner in crucial victory against Premiership leaders Linfield

Larne's Joe Thomson celebrates scoring the winning goal against Linfield at Windsor Park, Belfast. PIC: INPHO Brian Little
Larne's Joe Thomson celebrates scoring the winning goal against Linfield at Windsor Park, Belfast. PIC: INPHO Brian Little

​It’s a nickname that has been associated with Cliftonville’s Joe Gormley for many years because of his predatory instincts, but the former Celtic man is turning a few heads with his scoring exploits.

The 26-year-old netted a priceless second-half header to help his team inch within five points of David Healy’s table-topping Blues.

Joel Cooper shot the hosts into an early lead with a magnificent strike, but that was quickly wiped out by a stunning 30-yard effort from Mark Randall – both goal of the season contenders.

It was left to Thomson to seal the deal in the second half when he managed to get his head on to a Levi Ives cross, which was enough to glance it past Linfield goalkeeper Chris Johns.

It was Thomson’s ninth goal of the season – impressive shooting from the hard-working midfielder.

"The boys in the dressing room are now calling him ‘Joe The Goal’ because he’s popping up with so many vital goals,” smiled Lynch. “Over the last couple of weeks, he’s been outstanding.

“Not only does he supply the front men with some great assists, he’s also got his fair share of goals – in important games as well.

“Joe’s got the knack of making late runs into the box, arriving at the right time.

"It’s not luck because he works so hard at his game. It’s all about the timing, he does it superbly well.”

Lynch was also gushing with praise about his team’s overall performance.

“We showed great character to bounce back after falling a goal behind against a team that had been flying,” he added. “We rolled up our sleeves and we dug in when we needed to.

“After that, I thought we were superb...we played some of the best football I’ve seen from us in a long time.

"There is a resilience with this group of players and the staff.

"There are weeks we become frustrated when we don’t do the things we should do.

“When that happens, no one hurts more than the group.

"But they showed against Linfield what they are all about.

“Our aim was always to get three points – and we achieved that.”

Linfield boss David Healy insisted one goal was also going to be enough to separate the teams.

“As a performance, I can accept it,” he said. “We gave it a go over the last 10 minutes or so, but with no disrespect to the players we have in and around the squad at the moment, we are light in numbers.

“Losing the likes of Cooper and (Chris) McKee in the second half didn’t help. We had seven boys under the age of 21 involved.

“I don’t think there was too much in the game, they probably edged the possession side of it, but that is something we discussed in the build-up.

"I thought we were probably too patient in the first-half, but that was my decision.

“We changed it a little bit to get a few more bodies forward in the second-half.

"We probably got too many (players) forward for their second goal because we had boys slightly out of position.

"Credit to them, they spotted the free man, and they broke on us – we were a little bit light at the back.”