You often hear the term “Tie of the round” in cup competitions, and they usually disappoint. Today, was one of the more eventful Irish Cup ties i’d been to.
For a change, this was an Irish Cup tie in January actually worth getting excited over.
Upon seeing the team, I couldn’t help but wonder why David Armstrong wasn’t playing. It’s clear that Murphy/Watson doesn’t work, and that Armstrong/Watson gives a better balance, as seen on New Year’s Day.
Amazingly (he missed the Coleraine game as he was becoming a dad) he wasn’t even on the bench. It was who was and wasn’t on the bench and who did and didn’t come off the bench that would be a taking point later.
Crusaders go, as you say, the dream start, 1-0 up after 12 seconds. Off the top of my head, I can’t remember a goal in a game i’ve been to within the first minute of a game.
It did though, highlight something that has been bugging me the last few weeks, the way Linfield kick off (although, to be fair, they didn’t kick off the game today)
Genrally, when Linfield kick off, the ball gets played out wide, usually out for a throw. Possession lost, within the first ten seconds.
During the recent league game at Seaview, Linfield conceded a throw after ten seconds. In the second-half, Crusaders had a shot which needed to be blocked over the bar after ten seconds.
At any level of football, it is unacceptable to concede a goal after twelve seconds, especially one when the striker is clean through on goal.
For the next ten or so minutes, it was all Crusaders. If it had got to 2-0, there is no doubt they would have went on to win the game. Thankfully, it was Linfield who got the next goal, Brian McCaul tapping home after Sean O’Neill failed to hold on to a Matthew Tipton shot.
In trying to stop the shot, O’Neill got injured and needed to be subsitituted, with midfielder Chris Morrow having to move into nets. It looked like the tide was turning in Linfield’s favour.
Given that Irish League clubs are allowed to have five subsitutes on a matchday, i’m amazed Crusaders didn’t have a goalkeeper on the bench. Linfield didn’t have one on the bench today. Hopefully, after today, David Jeffrey will start having one on the bench in future.
Frustratingly, we never got to see if Morrow was any good in nets, as Linfield didn’t give him anything to do, other than a Matthew Tipton shot which went wide, and Tipton’s goal to make it 2-1.
There was a bit of controversy over Tipton’s goal. The incident happened very quickly. From where I was in the front rows of The Kop, it looked in, TV was inconclusive.
For the next ten or so minutes, Crusaders looked rattled, and if Linfield had made it 3-1, there would have been no way back for them.
But, the tide swung once more, as Johnny Black was given a straight red for a foul. I didn’t get a clear view, but having seen TV replays, it’s hard to argue against it.
Gievn the options on the bench, it made perfect sense to bring on Jim Ervin, and move Billy Joe Burns to left-back. Not ideal, but the best of a bad situation.
Amazingly, no substitution was made. Given it was late in the first-half, surely Ervin would have been brought on at half-time?
Nope. In fact, Linfield made no substitutions as all during the game. Staggering. Players were running on empty late in the game, and Jeffrey made no subs at all, not even bringing on Lowry and/or Fordyce to freshen things up. Unbelievable. It almost cost us in the end.
It was clear that Jeffrey had his team set up to see out a 2-1 win. A tactic that was asking for trouble, as Crusaders deservedly levelled through Timmy Adamson.
Questions have to be asked as to why he was the first to react ahead of three defenders and a keeper after his original shot hit the post.
If Linfield’s defending was suspect, so was the refereeing, with his lenient attitude to persistent fouling by Crusaders players.
There wasn’t enough officials for a 4th official today. If there was, he would have spotted Declan Caddell stamping on Michael Gault in front of the dugouts. Not only was there no foul (and red card) given, but Crusaders almost scored from the resulting attack.
It’s always frustrating to draw, but having been 1-0 down after 12 seconds and playing 50 minutes with ten men, it’s not the worst result in the world, especially as no league points have been dropped.
The replay, will be on Thursday 22nd January, which, in my opinion, is farcical.
Surely, it would be convenient for the game to be this coming Tuesday as it is more convenient for both clubs?
Linfield will play Tuesday-Friday that week, while Crusaders will be playing in the midweek before the Irn Bru Cup Final.
Hopefully, we can have the Dungannon match changed to the Saturday lunchtime (There’ll be no clash with the game at Windsor as it will be a 1730 kick off)
And another thing, queued up to get a ticket pre-match for next week’s trip to Donegal Celtic, which only went on sale yesterday. That’s not good enough.
I wasn’t actively following developments until two weeks ago when I decided I wanted to go.
If they were on sale a week ago, you had the Coleraine game, a full week, and today to sell them.
Even two weeks ago, you could have had the games against Cliftonville and Coleraine, today, as well as ten working days.
If games are being made all ticket, then tickets need to be made readily available for people to purchase at their convenience.
Anyway, here’s some photos.