LINFIELD 1-1 DUNGANNON SWIFTS 27.8.2016

It was October 2006 the last time that Dungannon Swifts avoided defeat in a league game at Windsor Park. Since then, they’ve lost all of their 13 league visits since. Their last 5 visits saw them concede 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 goals. So logically, Linfield were going to win and score 7? Recent form would suggest not.

Both teams went into this game on the back of good results in their last 2 games. Linfield have taken 4 points against their 2 main title rivals and had the motivation of knowing they would got joint top of the league with a win following Ards defeat on Friday night.

Dungannon arrived at Windsor Park with two successive wins, including a win at Solitude.

The game got off to a slow start, the only attempts on goal from Linfield came from a couple of speculative Aaron Burns shots, while Sammy Clingan failed to hit the target from a couple of free-kicks.

Josh Carson has Linfield’s best attacking moment in the first-half when he headed the ball goalwards from a cross, the ball going wide, neither being a goal or an assist for the oncoming Andrew Waterworth.

Eventually, Linfield took the lead when Mark Haughey headed home from a corner.

Straight away, Roy Carroll was forced into a spectacular save from a Jamie Glackin shot from outside the penalty area.

A reminded, if it was needed, that 1-0 would not be enough for Linfield.

In the early moments of the second-half, Dungannon had some sloppy moments in their defensive third, giving the ball away, but Linfield weren’t able to take advantage of their visitors generosity.

They were made to pay for that within minutes, when a cross from the left found Kris Lowe unmarked with an open goal.

He was probably thinking “What Have I Done To Deserve This? as he put the ball into the empty net. You can’t afford to give teams Opportunities like that. It’s A Sin was the only way to describe the defending by Linfield.

The goal was deserved for Dungannon on the balance of play. The only positive for Linfield was that there was still a lot of time to rectify it.

Unfortunately, the only response from Linfield came off the pitch, with Ross Gaynor and Paul Smyth coming on from the bench.

The came continued in the same pattern though, with Linfield struggling to create anything in open play and Dungannon looking comfortable.

It was set up for Kris Lowe, the New Zealand international, to make his Linfield debut from the bench. The only question was would it be Ward or Clingan sacrificed for him to come on? It was Ward.

Bright almost got a debut assist when he headed the ball to Ross Gaynor couldn’t connect with the overhead kick, to groans from the crowd.

To be fair, it’s hard to have any spatial awareness when you have your back to goal, it was all he could probably do.

The most damming fact was, it was Linfield’s best attaking moment of the second-half.

Dungannon’s best attacking moment came in the final moments whenever Roy Carroll was forced into a save whenever Ally Taggart burst down the left.

As injury time approached, Linfield suddenly had the urgency they had lacked in the previous 90 minutes, with Paul Smyth single-handedly taking on Dungannon’s defence without reward, especially when a cross from the left agonisingly went past everybody waiting in the box.

It was too little and too late for Linfield as Dungannon left with a deserved point.

Dropping 4 points from 3 home games is already a concern, especially with Linfield not in competitive action next weekend.

Neither are Glenavon though. Crusaders are, they play Ards. Those four clubs seperated by just 2 points in a traffic jam at the top, propped by Linfield.

Maybe the international break has come at a good time for Linfield?

Though perspective must be had, we’re only 2 points off the top and have the joint best defence in the league.

Upon Linfield’s return from their mid-season break, they’ll be facing two sides expected to struggle at the bottom, Portadown and Carrick in must-win games. I guess they are all must-win games.

Before that, is a League Cup tie at home to Larne, which will be far from easy, with the East Antrim side leading The Championship.

A win there would set things up for Jamie Mulgrew’s Testimonial, against Rangers, a chance to celebrate his 11 years with the club and to give some players game time, most notably Kris Bright, and hopefully Ross Clarke and Mark Stafford, if they are fit.

Meanwhile, the UEFA Cup draw was done on Friday, and I got the home game on Matchday 5 I wanted for United, as it means i’ll miss Portadown away rather than Ards away.

I’ve booked to go to the Feyenoord game, and then stay over for the West Ham game on the Sunday.

On the Saturday, i’ll have a spare day and will be planning to take in a game while i’m there.

The options are Bury v Millwall and Oldham v Peterborough.

To be honest, the Oldham one looks the more tempting. Oldham and Linfield have had some mutual players in recent years (Feeney, Tipton, Millar, Winchester) as well as the fact that both teams (Steven Robinson and Grant McCann) have managers from Northern Ireland.

Photo Album

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – LIVE AT BOUCHER ROAD PLAYING FIELDS (TENNENT’S VITAL) 25.2.2016

Against my better judgement, I headed to Boucher Road Playing Fields for Tennent’s Vital, this night headlined by Red Hot Chili Pepepers. Basically, because I love RHCP, though not so much love for the joyless event that Vital has become in recent years

It almost saddens me when a band I like headlines Vital.

It was the Chili Peppers first Belfast gig since 2011, when they performed at Ulster Hall as part of the MTV EMAs. Unfortunately, I was unable to get a ticket for that gig.

Their last Belfast gig before that, was in the same venue in 1992. I was a bit too young for that gig.

Having arrived at the venue, I was greeted by Airport Security. Yes, Airport Security. For a concert. We didn’t even have that during the troubles.

The main support came from Fall Out Boy. I like Fall Out Boy, and not just because they get their name from The Simpsons.

I wouldn’t have been rushing if they were the headliners, but as support acts go, not too shabby.

I was far back with not a great view, as I looked on in amazement at seeing The Pit being half empty.

An invention at Vital is to have a pit for VIPs while the plebs have to fight for scraps, as music fans get divided into the haves and have nots.

Belsonic might not be perfect, but at least I know if I want a decent view, I have to turn up early.

Want a decent view at Vital? Have a mate who works for a sponsor or a PR company.

Eventually, the Chili Peppers appeared on stage, rifling through hit after hit, even though the UK Record Buying Public has only rewarded them with one Number One, and that was when All Saints covered one of their songs.

They sounded good, the only downside was that I couldn’t see them, due to being so far away.

As an added bonus, I was surrounded by Shitebags.

One person grabbed my throat for simply being an onstacle on his route to the front of the stage. Thankfully, I managed to push him away from me, but it was too dark to get to get a look at them as he ran off.

It’s not a particularly nice feeling when you are trying to watch the gig while having to keep an eye on what is going on around you.

Big events in Belfast usually attract Shitebags sadly, and this was no different.

I’ll never understand the mentality of throwing beer at concerts.

The tightwad in me can’t understand buying something and not fully consuming it. Then there’s the factor that you’re being a cunt.

I’m not being precious, and you’re not “Rock n Roll”, you’re just being a dick. People are coming out to watch a band, and not to have drinks and (plastic) glasses thrown over you.

If it’s not acceptable behaviour in any other environment, why would it be acceptable at a concert?

From Shitebags to another type of bag, namely backpacks. A curious phenomenon of this gig was the sheer volume of people wearing backpacks, on two straps, taking up space, and then banging into you as they walk past.

Why on earth do you need to bring a backpack to a concert?

It’s only a one day event for group out loud. All you need is money, keys, phone and a camera if you wish. You don’t need to bring a packed lunch, there are food stalls there.

And then there was the joy of having people walking from side to side aimlessly.

“How was the Chilli Peppers gig?”

“Oh it was grand aye, I just walked about from side to side”

Onto the music, it was a hit filled set, with fans being treated to Can’t Stop, Dani California, Scar Tissue,
Snow, Otherside, Californication, Under the Bridge and By the Way.

Surprisingly, Under The Bridge was in the main set. I thought that would have been saved for the encore.

Amongst the new songs played was the lead single from their new album The Getaway.

It’s a grower, but when it grows on you, you will love it.

If they are still playing live in five or ten years time, it’s a song that will be cemented in their setlist.

The only downside of the setlist was that it got a bit self indulgent, veering into Spinal Tap territory, like duelling banjos but with guitars.

For the encore, we got a special treat, an instrumental version of We Will Rock You merged with an instrumental version of We Will Rock You, before performing Give It Away.

Immediately, after the gig, a Dublin date for December was announced, while a UK tour was also announced.

Can’t help but feel that an Odyssey gig in December would have been preferable to being sat in a field surrounded by Shitebags.

It wasn’t all bad. As I was walking along the Lisburn Road, a woman kindly helped me put on my poncho (Don’t laugh, I had one in my back pocket. I’d gotten it free at a Northern Ireland match when I sat in the roofless pre-redevelopment Railway Stand)

I guess Belfast folk aren’t all knobs.

Photo Album

NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS – LIVE AT TITANIC BELFAST (BELSONIC) 23.8.2016

Nearly eighteen months after it began, Noel Gallagher’s tour to promote his second solo album, Chasing Yesterday, returned to Belfast, the city where it all began in March 2015, as the tour reaches it’s final stages.

It was Gallagher’s fourth solo gig in Belfast, following a nice symmetry of Odyssey, Belsonic, Odyssey, Belsonic, though it was a change of venue from 2012, at Titanic Belfast rather than Custom House Square.

Support came from Catfish and the Bottlemen, which sounds like the spellcheck version of Echo and the Bunnymen, but don’t let that put you off.

They are rather good, one of those bands who you know more songs than you realise, performing their catchy hits such as Pacifier, 7 and Cocoon, to a lot of dancing.

Some people even left when they finished their set. Their loss.

This gig came on the day that the current issue of Q hit the shelves, with it’s cover star being Liam Gallagher, saying he has new music recorded. He’s even been laying down the gauntlet on Twitter, before announcing that he will release a solo album in 2017.

Noel was here to let his music do the talking, appearing on stage and bursting straight into solo hits such as Everybody’s on the Run, Lock All the Doors, In the Heat of the Moment and Riverman before giving the crowd a bit of Oasis with Fade Away, performing in the style of the version that appeared on the War Child album.

With a back catalogue like his, it was always going to be a difficult balancing act between his solo career and Oasis hits.

The Oasis songs that were played were largely different from the recorded versions. Not just vocally, but musically. It was Oasis being reimagined, which is what Noel has done recently, remixing Be He Now for a 20th anniversary re-release, even though it will be ten and a half months before the actual anniversary.

There were no songs from Be Here Now, the album in Oasis back catalogue that was raided most was The Masterplan, with fans being treated to a forgotten Oasis classics, D’Yer Wanna Be A Spaceman? and Listen Up.

Amongst the Oasis classics performed by him was Live Forever. I say he performed it, he sang “Maybe ……” and the crowd did the rest, the song being performed acoustically.

Back to his own solo hits, performing the likes of The Death of You and Me, You Know We Can’t Go Back, Ballad of the Mighty I, The Mexican and If I Had a Gun.

The only downside about Noel Gallagher gigs in Belfast, is that they seem to attract some Weapons Grade Fuckwits.

You ever see the Kevin and Perry sketch where Perry thinks he’s Liam Gallagher, starts talking in a Manchester accent and draws a beard with marker?

That was basically a lot of people in the audience.

Some guy near me managed to piss himself just after his mate got chucked out for trying to storm the the stage.

What next for Noel Gallagher? Who knows. It could be a while before Belfast sees him in the flesh, but we will get to see him in cinematic form with the release of an Oasis documentary film Supersonic in October.

This gig was my fourth Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds gig, compared to five Oasis gigs, meaning that the next time I see Noel Gallagher in action will equal that.

Or maybe, it will be a sixth Oasis gig? That’ll be unlikely considering that Liam will be busy throughout 2017.

I’m not going to get my hopes up. We all know what happens when you put your life in the hands of a rock n roll band.

Photo Album

Catfish and the Bottlemen Photo Album

See Also

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds live at The Odyssey 2015

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds live at Custom House Square 2012

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds live at The Odyssey 2012

MADNESS – LIVE AT TITANIC BELFAST (BELSONIC) 20.8.2016

It’s fair to say that 2016 has been a Summer of Madness in Northern Ireland. Normally when you hear such a description, you’re expecting non stop riots. This is a good Madness, and Northern Ireland Madheads had three opportunities to indulge in their favourite band this summer.

In July, the musical Our House had a run at Grand Opera House, while Belsonic offered fans the chance to experience the real thing.

It was the second time that Madness had headlined Belsonic, having appeared at Custom House Square in 2012. Like in 2016, a few days later they were followed by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

There is a tenuous link between Madness and Noel Gallagher, as it was an inebriated Madness (who had just come off stage after performing) who replaced Oasis at short notice in 2009 at the French music festival where a backstage spat resulted in Oasis split.

Madness are always a popular booking at festivals, having done the afternoon legends slot at Glastonbury. Quite impressive for a band in their 50s, as most who get that slot are at an advanced age people watching on TV had thought they were dead.

Madness aren’t dead, but they are down a member, with Chas Smash leaving in 2014.

That loss is evident in the opening song, as he would traditionally kick off a Madness gig with his intro to One Step Beyond, their signature tune. One of many, you could say.

It was Madness first gig in Belfast since December 2014. They have been touring a lot since then. A tour in the summer of 2015 of small to medium sized stadiums missed Belfast, making the delays of the Windsor Park redevelopment even worse. There was Ravenhill as well they could have used.

Madness have been gigging in Belfast since 1979, playing in what Suggs described as “What was left of” The Europa Hotel.

They entered the stage to House Of Fun, before Suggs apologised to those in the audience who were expecting to see Westlife’s comeback tour, before advising those in the audience on medication or of a nervous disposition to look away as Lee Thompson did a saxophone solo during their debut single The Prince, a song which Suggs introduce by pretending he was presenting Top Of The Pops, describing them as “A bunch of hermits from North London”.

Something threw a bra at Lee Thompson. Not the first time that’s happened in Belfast either.

Naturally, there was a lot of dad dancing. Most of it in the crowd. If you can’t be silly at a Madness gig, when can you be silly?

My Girl was performed as a slow ballad, with Suggs over dramatically pretending to cry, before the song was performed as the way we all know and love it.

As is now tradition, we were treated to a Chris Foreman, billed as the best guitarist in Madness, karaoke set. He said he had taken requests from people, and had to disappoint them, that he would continue his karaoke.

Foreman recalled a walk around Belfast earlier that day when he asked what the name of the boat parked at the docks was. When told it was Bryan, he replied “like Bryan Ferry?”

The boat parked could be seen from the stage. It was a night boat to Scotland, rather than going to Cairo.

Fans were treated to Foreman singing his own version of Living On A Prayer by Bon Jovi.

When performing The Sun and the Rain, the weather obliged. Sort of. We got rain, but no sun.

It was a hit filled show, One Step Beyond was snuck in mid show, alongside Embarrassment, Wings Of A Dove, Shut Up, Our House and It Must Be Love, while Madness and Night Boat To Cairo were performed in the encore.

It typical Madness fashion, it was utterly unpredictable.

Suggs will be in Northern Ireland next Saturday, heading to Bangor to talk about his career as part of Open House Festival.

If their live shows follow the current pattern (Madness last three Belfast gigs have been 2012, 2014 and now 2016) we can expect to see them back in 2018.

Can’t wait.

Photo Album

See Also

Madness live at The Odyssey 2014

Madness live at The Odyssey 2014 Photo Album

Madness live at Custom House Square 2012

Madness live at Custom House Square 2012 Photo Album

LINFIELD 4-0 GLENAVON 20.8.2016

On the day of the 1st Round of the 2016-2017 Irish Cup, it was perhaps apt that last season’s two finalists should meet in the league. It wasn’t about getting revenge for Linfield, it was about getting their title challenge back on track after two draws, and leapfrogging a side expected to be one of their title rivals.

For me, this match was to be followed by Madness. The band, though the way recent meetings between Linfield and Glenavon have gone in recent years, there was the possibility of Madness at Windsor Park before the main event at Titanic.

Linfield were straight on the attack. Sammy Clingan, making his first start, had Linfield’s first attempt on goal, when his low free-kick was saved by Johnny Tuffey.

Within a minute, Linfield were 1-0 up when Chris Casement created enough space out wide to cross for Josh Carson to fire home from close range.

Linfield were having the better of the play in the first-half and doing most of the attacking, though Glenavon did have their moments.

Andrew Waterworth came closest to scoring a second for Linfield when his header goalwards had to be tipped over by Tuffey on his goal-line.

Glenavon were struggling to defend corners, though Linfield were struggling to take advantage of this.

Linfield went in at half-time 1-0 up, but knew the three points were far from won.

Having been so poor in the first-half, many were anticipating Glenavon to come out strongly for the second-half. That didn’t happen. Linfield didn’t need to withstand any pressure, they went out and got a second goal in the early minutes of the second-half, replicating their start to the first-half.

Unsurprisingly, it came from a corner, when Aaron Burns was unmarked to fire home from close range. There were only so many times Glenavon could get away with it before Linfield got it right and punished.

Having come back from 3-0 down to draw at Ballymena in their last away game, Linfield knew that Glenavon have the ability to come back from a deficit. They saw it first hand last September when Glenavon came from 3-1 down to level at Windsor Park, although it would turn out to be in vain that day.

If anything, it looked like Linfield would get the next goal. Kirk Millar and Andrew Waterworth going agonisingly wide.

Such is Waterworth’s luck at the moment, that his shot agonisingly just missed the post, when if it did, it would have went straight to an oncoming attaker.

Just after the hour, Rhys Marshall got sent-off for a high tackle on Chris Casement.

Soon after, Gary Hamilton, wearing 2 having changed from 80 and showing utter contempt for squad number protocol, entered the action.

You know Glenavon are in trouble when their chief back seat driver enters the play to try and influence things.

Aaron Burns was denied by the crossbar as Linfield chased a third goal. The wait wouldn’t be long, as Sean Ward ran unchallenged to fire home for his first Linfield goal at Windsor Park.

He had passing options left, right and centre, all of which would have probably resulted in a goal. He decided to go himself and got rewarded.

With Crusaders and Ards drawing, Linfield were going joint top of the league. If they could win this game 9-0, they would go top of goal difference.

It’s not an exaggeration to suggest they could have won by that margin.

By now, Paul Smyth had been introduced. It was the perfect time for him, against tired opposition chasing the game.

He played through Stephen Fallon who should have scored, but he fired his shot straight at Tuffey.

There wasn’t long to wait for Linfield to make it 4-0, when Aaron Burns headed home from a Ross Gaynor cross. There were Linfield players literally queuing up to score.

Burns was denied a hat-trick when his header hit the post, while Fallon fired a shot low across goal at Tuffey. Despite the frustration of those missed chances, I think Linfield fans would have settled for a 4-0 win at 2.59pm.

Ards got a late winner at Ballymena, which means they sit top, looking down on Crusaders and Linfield who sit two points behind them.

Immediately, talk is, if Ards can “Do a Leicester”?

Events in England last season mean that Ards are being taken seriously four games in as they would be if they were two points clear with four games to go.’

With games against Glenavon and Crusaders coming it, it might be advantageous to Linfield if Ards good start continues for the next fortnight. But ends by September 24th, obviously.

I’m hoping that Ards finish in the top six for purely selfish reasons. I might be able to get to Linfield’s trip there in December, and a second visit in the (hopefully) nicer weather in April is very appealing.

The reason why I might not be able to go to Linfield’s trip to Clandeboye Park in December, is that I might be in Manchester that weekend.

I’m waiting for the UEFA Cup group draw on Friday. I’m hoping to go to one of United’s group games, and see if I can get a decent price to stay out for a Sunday game afterwards.

A perfect draw for me would be Dundalk (no offence, but they won’t overturn a 2-0 defect in Poland) v United on Matchday 3 or 4 with a 6pm kick-off at Lansdowne Road. Could do a day trip to Dublin, see the game and be home by 11pm.

I’ll keep an eye on Dundalk’s draw for day trip purposes. Inter Milan would be nice if they avoid United. A chane to add them to my 102 Club list.

Next up for Linfield, is Dungannon at home, who have won their last two games, making their third trip to Belfast this month.

A must-win game for Linfield regardless, but especially since the game away to Cliftonville on 3rd September has been postponed due to international call-ups.

Linfield have taken advantage of this by arranging a friendly against Rangers for Jamie Mulgrew’s Testimonial.

Never mind getting fit, the performances of Sammy Clingan and Sean Ward means he’ll have a struggle to get picked for his own testimonial.

Photo Album

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 19.8.2016

1. Laether Strip – Waterfront
2. Travis ft Josephine Oniyama – Idlewild
3. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – AKA …… What A Life
4. Madness – House Of Fun
5. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Cabron

CRUSADERS 0-0 LINFIELD 13.8.2016

Linfield made the trip to Seaview for the first of a double header of games against the other sides in last season’s top three, looking to make up for lost ground following Wednesday night’s draw against Coleraine.

Seaview was the ground last season where Linfield’s winning start was derailed and then in April, their title hopes were all but killed off.

They were hoping not to make it a hat-trick of Seaview disasters. Defeat wouldn’t have been fatal to their 2016-2017 title ambitions, but a five point gap in the middle of August would have been a big gap to make up already. On the flip side, Linfield knew that a win would see them, at worst, joint top of the league.

It wasn’t just two points that were costly for Linfield, with Jamie Mulgrew and Ross Gaynor missing today through injuries suffered on Wednesday night.

For the first time in a long time, Linfield have options in their squad, with Sean Ward and Josh Carson coming in, while Aaron Burns replaced Paul Smyth.

It was a game where defences were on top. Linfield were warned that they couldn’t afford to make a slip when Crusaders were presented with a free chance from a free-kick, which they couldn’t take.

Likewise, Linfield weren’t getting a lot of joy, being at their most dangerous from set pieces, but like Crusaders, not having a clear goalscoring opprtunity.

Talking of goalscoring opportunities, Stephen Lowry hauled back Paul Heatley as he ran forward in first-half stoppage time. It was a classic case of “Taking one for the team” as he picked up a yellow card. It would end up to be a costly card for Lowry later in the day.

As Heatley lay on the ground, Crusaders players surrounded the referee. It was a common theme any time a Linfield player committed a foul. Thankfully, Linfield didn’t play Crusaders game.

It’s not as if Raymond Crangle would have needed any encouragement to book a Linfield player.

To be fair, he wasn’t as bad as usual. By his standards. His pre-match warm-up saw him lap up the boos from Linfield fans and cheers from Crusaders fans as he jogged past them.

It appeared that Panto Season had arrived in Belfast four months early.

Like any great entertainer, he saved one of his Greatest Hits for the end, by booking Andrew Waterworth for handball after he landed on the ball after being fouled in injury time.

From the resulting free-kick for Lowry’s foul, Linfield switched off, allowing Crusaders to get space after the free-kick was taken quickly, and then allowing Paul Heatley a free header. Thankfully, it was straight at Roy Carroll.

Quick free-kicks from Crusaders were a recurring theme during the game, catching Linfield out, but Linfield had enough shape about them not to be punished for it.

In the opening minutes of the second-half, Linfield were reduced to ten men when Stephen Lowry got a second yellow card.

Ironically, just seconds before, Kirk Millar had lost possession and was chasing it back. I was mumbling to myself at Millar not to make a tackle and get sent-off (He was also on a yellow card), only for Lowry to jump in and do likewise.

On the touchline and with the Crusaders player going nowhere, it was a stupid tackle to make, especially for a player on a yellow card.

Despite being down to ten, it was far from game over for Linfield. In the past year they have faced Cliftonville, Ballymena and Glenavon with ten men and been undefeated in those games. In two of them, they turned a defeat into a draw and a draw into a win.

In terms of personnel, Linfield didn’t need to turn to their bench, with Aaron Burns slotting back into midfield.

Sammy Clingan, on the bench, would have to wait a little longer for his competitive Linfield debut.

Despite being a man light, Linfield had their best attacking moments after the red card. Mark Haughey headed over from a free-kick when he should have scored, while Kirk Millar’s cross was almost headed into his own goal by a Crusaders defender.

David Cushley had Crusaders best chance, but his shot was saved by Roy Carroll.

It wasn’t just on the ground that Carroll was commanding, as he frustrated Crusaders tactics of lumping the ball into the box.

Crusaders could cross the ball all day, Carroll would have caught the ball all day.

The game was crying out for Paul Smyth to be introduced from the bench, which he was, for Josh Carson, giving Crusaders problems. He flicked a header wide from a free-kick.

It was the sort of game that had 0-0 written all over it as both teams struggled to make the breakthrough.

As the final minutes played out, both teams went for goal, but without committing too many players forward.

This was backed up by Crusaders passing it about in their own half in the final seconds of the game

It was neither a good result or a bad result, Both teams will not be unhappy with a point while feeling that they could have won all three.

Up next for Linfield, is a home match against Glenavon, one of three clubs (the others being Crusaders and Ards) two points above Linfield at the top.

Glenavon have started the season in goalscoring form, scoring 10 to Linfield’s 3 in the opening 3 games. On the other side, they are prone to conceding, shipping 5 goals in those 3 games, the same as Ballinamallard who have lost all three games and sit 11th.

Glenavon’s form suggests there will be goals. A simple 1-0 for Linfield will do me.

Photo Album

LINFIELD 1-1 COLERAINE 10.8.2016

Linfield went into the now traditional (you can call three years a tradition?) August midweek fixture list looking to continue their winning start to the season and get two wins out of two. They ended up getting the win they wanted. In fact, they ended up being thankful to remain unbeaten.

Linfield began the game by getting a lot of joy out their left. They were having a lot of possession but not really doing a lot with it.

The closest they came to scoring was when Mark Haughey headed over from a corner, unable to recreate his two goal heroics when the sides met in February, while Paul Smyth curled a shot straight into the goalkeeper’s arms.

Andrew Waterworth went closer when he knocked a cross goalwards was denied.

Coleraine had their attacking moments, but not a lot that worried Linfield. For all their possession, there wasn’t really a moment when it looked like a Linfield goal was inevitible.

In the opening moments of the second-half, Linfield continued in the same manner, when a Niall Quinn cross was asking to be put in, but nobody was able to get on the end of it and put it in.

Within minutes, Windsor Park was shocked, when a cross from the left fell straight to James McLaughlin, who fired home.

Most home supporters were shocked that he should be unmarked in the penalty area. When the ball landed at his feet, there was that agonising second when everyone knew he was going to score, but hoped that somehow he wouldn’t.

McLaughlin had only come on as a substitute at half-time.

Coleraine had a chance to make it 2-0 but couldn’t take it. They did get a free-kick for a handball by Mark Haughey when blocking it. They couldn’t take advantage of the free-kick.

For a team that never really looked like scoring, it was no surprise that Linfield’s substitutions were of an attacking nature – Josh Carson, Aaron Burns and Michael McLellan all entering the action.

Despite that, Linfield still struggled in front of goal, not creating a clear opportunity. It was all too predictable. Coleraine’s defence were comfortable.

As time ran out, Linfield got a fortunate corner when a clearance hit a Linfield player and went across the pitch and out for what looked like a goal kick.

Linfield fans sighed that another attack ended unsuccessfully with time running out.

To everyone’s surprise, a corner kick was awarded. Linfield took advantage of their luck, when Aaron Burns flicked home from close range after a flick on.

The body language of the Coleraine suggested that they could lose the plot. Lyndon Kane was sent-off before the game restarted.

Linfield couldn’t take advantage of the momentum swing or the extra man in the time that remained.

In fact, Coleraine almost got a dramatic late winner when Jamie McGonigle curled a shot that hit the post. Time stood still. Like with the corner kick decision a few minutes earlier, Linfield benefitted from a stoke of luck.

No disrespect to Coleraine, but this result was two points dropped, even though the circumstances of the game would see it considered one point gained.

What it was, will decided in 36 games time.

Already, Linfield trail Crusaders by two points. They travel to Seaview on Saturday. The gap can’t be allowed to go to five points, even if it is retrievable.

Linfield are more than capable of beating Crusaders if they get stuck in and play to the best of their ability.

They haven’t done that yet. Saturday would be a good start.

Photo Album

BELFAST PEACE WALL ART – AUGUST 2016

A curious thing I do, is that every six months, I cycle up to the Belfast Peace Wall on Cupar Way. Last Sunday, was my time to head up there.

I’ve been documenting Street Art in Belfast and beyond since 2007, and it wasn’t until 2014 that I actually ventured over to Cupar Way.

I’d seen images, both photos and film footage of it. To be honest, as Street Art goes, it’s not actually that impressive.

If I was to offer advice to tourists wanting to see Street Art in Belfast, i’d send them in the direction of North Street and Donegall Street, in the City Centre.

You can walk around and get lost if you wish and find art that way, but if you like a bit of structure, there is a tour now operating on Sundays.

I will admit to being fascinated by the ever changing evolution of the walls.

While I was there. I tawt I taw a Puddy Tat. Oh wait, I did!!

Slyvester The Cat was my favourite, even though he was buried under other Street Art.

I wonder what i’ll find in February 2017?

Photo Album