Not sure what to make of this. Linfield, sitting at the bottom of the league and looking for their first win of the season face Glentoran at Windsor Park.
It was my first visit to Windsor Park in the league this season, and first match since the opening day of the season, the optimism that followed that game now gone after defeats to Cliftonville and Crusaders.
Changes made as a result of those defeats saw a new central defensive partnership of Kyle McVey and Sean Ward. I must admit, I was sceptical of the signing of McVey, but it was an impressive performance from him today, admittedly, he didn’t have much to do.
The first major thing he had to do came after 12 minutes, when Glentoran attacked down the left, he crunched in for a tackle, conceding the throw, but killing the attack and letting Linfield regroup. If ever there was a way to endear yourself to your new fans.
He might not be the best footballer in the world, but he wasn’t signed to beat four players and score.
Sean Ward played well today, passing the ball around well.
The main talking point of the first-half came after 30 minutes when Aaron Burns was sent-off for an off the ball incident with Ryan O’Neill. I didn’t actually see the incident, but I did catch a tussle between the two in the corner of my eye not long before.
It doesn’t matter who started it, Burns was stupid for putting himself in that situation, and putting his team up against it. He was especially missed as players were having to go wide to cover for him, leaving them not able to get into other positions.
However, in the rest of the first-half, it was Linfield who had the better of the chances and possession, despite being down to ten men.
At half-time, there was a worry that Linfield’s best chance had gone, and that Glentoran would come out stronger in the second-half. That wasn’t the case as Linfield maintained their control of the game.
The biggest annoyance today was the poor use of subs by Linfield, with only one tactical switch, and the other sub being a defender being brought on for a defender, due to injury.
The second-half, especially the later stages, were calling out for Brian McCaul or James Knowles to be introduced.
Most of Linfield’s play came down their right. It got to the point that Jason Hill got sent-off for hauling down Jamie Mulgrew when trying to defend that position. Despite all the posession, no clear cut chances were created ……. until the 89th minute, when Niall Quinn was through on goal, but hit the side netting.
And that, was that. We’ll play worse and win. There’s no point being positive about the performance if results aren’t matching. The next month’s fixtures can be best described as generous, and must be taken advantage of, especially as we are already 7 points behind Cliftonville (And the “notorious slow starters” cliche is a myth and mustn’t be used as an excuse)
We let them get too far ahead last season and never even challenged. Any title chances this season are dependent on that lead being whittled down as soon as possible. Today was a chance for that to happen.
Last night’s result at Solitude was good, and not for the obvious reason. If Cliftonville had got into a 4/5/6/7 game winning start, it could have led to teams being beaten in the tunnel. Portadown proved that they can be beaten.
Anyway, two big games this week. With the league table resembling a traffic jam, 6 points will have a brighter outlook for Linfield.
I’m most looking to Ards away next Saturday, as i’ve never been to Dixon Park. Hopefully, the next entry will have Linfield climbing up the table, the day after Northern Ireland beat Portugal.