Was at Windsor Park today, where i’m going to be for the next few Saturdays (looking at the fixture list) for the match between Linfield and Crusaders.
In 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, Linfield won 8 out of 10 meetings. Crusaders have won 6 out of 9 meetings since. The table stated it was 1st v 4th, but in reality, it was the meeting between the two form teams in the league, with Linfield having a four point lead over Crusaders.
Not only could Linfield boost themselves with a win, but could hurt Crusaders, especially with a run of games (no diesrespect to them) coming up against Ballymena, Ards, Warrenpoint and Dungannon to come, which is very winnable.
There were several annoyances today :
1. Poor decision making in the final third, though that is a weekly occurrence.
2. The amount of throw-ins conceded.
3. The amount of times when the ball was in the air. Food and drink to Crusaders. Crusaders didn’t look too good when the ball was on the ground.
Crusaders were set up to counter-attack and frustrate. The amount of time taken over dead balls, especially goal kicks, was evidence of this.
Crusaders were at their most dangerous at set pieces. It got to the point when Linfield players were more determined to stop Crusaders players getting near the ball then getting to the ball themselves.
There wasn’t much in the way of clear cut chances, and the second-half started the same.
During the second-half, the heavens opened. With Linfield having more and more possession in and around the Crusaders penalty area, it was hoped that one mistimed Crusaders tackle might give Linfield a penalty.
It was one of those games. Sometimes in a game, you know early on that a game is going to finish 0-0 no matter what. This was one of those games.
Not even the red card of Declan Caddell could change that.
Crusaders had a late header cleared off the line by Billy Joe Burns late on, as the game meandered towards it’s inevitable 0-0 destiny.
If you supported Linfield or Crusaders, and were choosing other results in the league, you would have chosen for Cliftonville, Portadown and Glenavon to drop points.
The real winners today were Glentoran, who are now only five points off the top of the league.
As a result, it’s the half full/half empty theory when analysing this result. Linfield kicked-off three points clear, could have went six points clear, but ended up four points clear. I supposed you could say an increased lead is a positive.
As is four clean sheets in the last five games. Clean sheets win titles (though one of those games was a League Cup tie)