CLIFTONVILLE 3-0 LINFIELD 30.11.2013

So today, I was at Solitude, where Linfield kicked off three points clear at the top of the league, and left the pitch 2nd on Goal Difference. In reality, it would take more than a sentence to describe the utter carcrash of a performance today.

As per usual, this game began with me sitting on a parked bus for a longer period than the journey travelled. The joy of Bubble Matches.

The game began uneventfully, with both teams “Feeling each other out”, Cliftonville having more shots on goal but not being dominant, or forcing Linfield’s goalkeeper Tuffey into a save beyond the call of duty.

That changed on 31 minutes when a long ball through came to Joe Gormley, who ran at goal. It was a repeat of Dungannon as Kyle McVey backed off to allow a shot, which ended up in the back of the net. No need for a deflection on this one though.

For the rest of the first-half, Linfield were hanging on. A neat piece of skill from Liam Boyce saw him create a shooting opportunity, but the real moment was Tuffey’s quick reactions to deny Martin Murray an opportunity to make it 2-0. It could have been a game defining save, but it turned out not to be.

From the game struggling to get going to Linfield hanging on in the space of 15 minutes. The next 15 minutes (erm, half-time) were going to see if that could be reversed.

Linfield started better in the second-half, not that it was hard, with Mark McAllister having a shot well saved, and Andrew Waterworth fired the ball across the six yard box, with nobody there to put it in.

On infuriating thing about Linfield is the lack of ability to win 2nd balls. It has seen enough attacks end, but came back to bite us at the other end as Barry Johnston made it 2-0, being the first to react to a loose ball in the penalty area.

From then on, Cliftonville killed the game literally. There’s no point complaining about teams timewasting any more as referees do fuck all about it, and are happy for teams to run rings around them and play them like a violin.

Laughably, there was three minutes of Injury Time, when the game was stopped for at least three minutes for the double red cards for Michael Gault and Barry Johnston. Neither player could really complain about their red card.

Though, even if there was 33 minuted added on, it wouldn’t have made a difference to the result.

With two players already sent-off, Ryan Catney was lucky not to go for a second yellow for booting the ball away after a free-kick was awarded. The fact that it came soon after his first yellow card, and the double red, save him. It’s a polite way of saying the ref bottled it.

As a result, Linfield are now knocked off the top of the league on Goal Difference, with a swing of 6 in Crusaders favour today, meaning they have a GD lead of 5 over Linfield.

A few weeks ago, I posted about how Linfield needed to boost their Goal Difference, and keep getting results due to Crusaders having a generous run of fixtures. Sadly, I have been proved right.

Crusaders fixture run gets more difficult in coming weeks with matches against on form Dungannon, Glentoran and Ballymena. That will count for nothing if Linfield don’t start winning matches again, expecially with Cliftonville and Glentoran (potentially, depending on their result on Monday) closing the gap to a retrievable amount.

Worringly, that’s three poor performances from Linfield in a row now. Having got away with it last week, maybe David Jeffrey might realise that James Knowles isn’t a right midfielder.

Even more worrying, is that there has been no clean sheet kept since October 19th. Remember my posts every week last season about the lack of clean sheets?

Time to address that issue in order for history not to repeat itself. Perhaps the best result that could come at Coleraine next Saturday is a scrappy dug in 1-0 win. I’d take that right now.

That game next Saturday will be my first visit to Coleraine since October 2011. Have to say i’m looking forward to it.

Another game i’m looking forward to is the visit to Warrenpoint on January 4th, which has been confirmed to be taking place at Warrenpoint’s ground. I’ve never been there before, which is why i’m looking forward to it so much.

Hopefully, by the time Linfield visit there, they’ll be back on top.

Usual arrangements with taking photos. It’s not friendly for amateur photography. Not that there was many Linfield attacks to photograph.

Photo Album

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THE FRIDAY FIVE – 29.11.2013

1. U2 – Ordinary Love
2. Birdy – Light Me Up
3. Bruce Springsteen – High Hopes
4. Imagine Dragons – On Top Of The World
5. Rudimental ft Emeli Sande – Free

So, last week’s X-Factor celebrated ten years of X-Factor. X-Factor. Yep, lots of nice Product Placement for X-Factor. X-Factor.

FIVE SONGS BY ACTS FROM X-FACTOR

1. Matt Cardle – It’s Only Love
2. Olly Murs – Army Of Two
3. Little Mix – Wings
4. Leona Lewis – Forgive Me
5. Jedward – Lipstick

And don’t worry Scottish folk, I haven’t forgotten you. Happy St Andrew’s Day.

FIVE SONGS BY SCOTTISH ACTS

1. Simple Minds – Don’t You Forget About Me
2. Biffy Clyro – The Captain
3. Pilot – Magic
4. Bay City Rollers – I Only Want To Be With You
5. Strawberry Switchblade – Since Yesterday

LINFIELD 3-2 GLENAVON 23.11.2013

After two defeats (well, one on penalties), Linfield welcomed Glenavon to Windsor Park looking to return to winning ways. Given that Linfield generally have one dodgy result a season against Glenavon, especially at home, it looked set to be a nervous afternoon.

And so the first-half proved to be, as Linfield couldn’t get into first gear, going 1-0 down to a Rhys Marshall header. For the goal, questions have to be asked of Jonathan Tuffey, who punched a ball he could (and should) have caught, which went out wide to a Glenavon player to put in the cross.

The rest of the first-half wasn’t much better, as Linfield struggled to do the basics right. Passes going to the wrong people. Quite often, there would be a player with space out right, the ball would go into the middle, where it was crowded with Glenavon players.

Players were passing when they should shoot, shooting when they should pass, crosses were going astray. Everything that could be done wrongly was done wrong.

It was good to see James Knowles get a game today, but not in his correct position. What made him being stationed in right midfield even more baffling was the fact that Brian McCaul, who can play out right being played in the middle.

I can’t help but feel Knowles suffered from a lack of gametime in recent weeks, making David Jeffrey’s decision not to bring on subs in recent games when Linfield were a couple of goals up even more baffling. He’s not the only player to have watched on as the full three subs weren’t utilised.

Towards the end of the first-half, Linfield improved. Well, they couldn’t have got much worse. A couple of shots on goal and a few crossed fired in, the best chance came when Mark McAllister headed straight at the keeper from a few yards out when heading across the keeper would have seen a goal.

Somehow, you got the feeling that it was probably better for the score to be 0-1 at half-time rather than 1-1, as Linfield often perform better when trailing after a shit first-half than when drawing.

Linfield started the second-half better, not that it was hard, but weren’t really having Glenavon under siege. A goal came soon afterwards though, through Mark McAllister.

The floodgates didn’t open, and Glenavon seemed intent on killing the game, taking an age over set pieces, throw-ins and goal kicks. They’re not the first team to do it at Windsor Park, and there’s no point complaining about it, as refs are so fucking useless they won’t do anything about it or play the correct amount of injury time.

After two minutes was signalled at the end of the first-half, Glenavon timewasted through that, the th ref blowing for half-time at exactly 47 minutes, as Linfield were about to take an attacking free-kick.

With just under ten minutes to go, Linfield finally got the breakthrough, as Andrew Waterworth was played through. It was too tight to nudge it past the keeper, he needed to go round him, which he did, and just about managed to squeeze the shot home.

Soon after, Aaron Burns made it 3-1, squeezing it home from a tight angle. A David Rainey goal soon afterwards made the end of the game a lot more nervous than it should have been, and it was nervous, due to Linfield’s inability to hold onto posession and kill the game.

Next week, is Cliftonville away. A big game. A win there, and Linfield will go 10 clear of them. Just over a year ago, Linfield turned up at Solitude 9 points behind Cliftonville, lost, and never got close. This is a great opportunity to do something similar.

With Crusaders having a generous run of fixtures over the next few weeks, the need to win becomes increasingly more important.

That match against Cliftonville should have been the start of a big double header, culminatiing with the County Antrim Shield Final against Crusaders. That match, however, has now been postponed.

There is no need for this match to be all ticket. Within the past year, Linfield have played two cup ties (2012 CAS Final and a recent League Cup tie against Glentoran) with no problems that haven’t needed tickets. Why should this match need tickets.

In fact, last season’s Irish Cup Semi-Final between Crusaders and Cliftonville at The Oval was pay on the gate.

If the problem is over capacity, why not give Linfield the home end?

I don’t usually bother with County Antrim Shield games, but I was wanting to go to this game. I won’t go if it’s at Windsor Park, I won’t go if it’s at Seaview, and I certainly won’t go if it’s at Ballymena.

In my opinion, the County Antrim Shield should be done away with, but it should be done away with in a humane manner, rather than this avoidable farce.

Photo Album

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 22.11.2013

1. The Wombats – Your Body Is A Weapon
2. Stereophonics – We Share The Same Sun
3. The Timelords – Doctorin The Tardis
4. Gary Barlow – Let Me Go
5. Luminites – Do Something

Meanwhile, in X-Factor land, the vague themes continue, with “The Great British Songbook”, available in all good libraries.

Disappointingly, they all stuck to the rules. I was hoping someone would something by Michael Bolton or Belinda Carlisle, and shrug while saying “Well, they have the same name as places in Britain, does that count?”

FIVE SONGS BY BRITISH ACTS

1. John Parr – St Elmo’s Fire
2. Beady Eye – The Roller
3. Sugababes – Denial
4. Richard Ashcroft – Money To Burn
5. Kim Wilde – Kids In America

Meanwhile, this week has also seen the formation of McBusted, a Supergroup of McFly and Busted. Sadly, the world is still waiting for Dire Straits and Chris Rea to form a Supergroup.

FIVE SONGS BY McBUSTED

1. Busted – You Said No
2. McFly – One For The Radio
3. Busted – Thunderbirds Theme
4. McFly – Shine A Light (ft Tiao Cruz)
5. McFly – Five Colours In Her Hair

DUNGANNON SWIFTS 1-0 LINFIELD 16.11.2013

Headed to Dungannon today, where Linfield’s long winning run began. In true comic and symmetrical timing, the long unbeaten run ended today.

In truth, it was hard to complain about the result, as Linfield were restricted to speculative long range shots and set pieces.

The worst part was, the set pieces were poor, failing to beat the first man, and worst of all, nobody seemed to be aware enough to be in a position for the second ball to keep the move alive, Dungannon getting to the second ball everytime.

Dungannon’s goal summed up the day, as a Linfield attack ended with indecisiveness on the edge of Dungannon’s box, ten seconds later, a counter attack results in a deflected Dungannon shot (after the striker wasn’t closed down) looped into the net.

Worst thing is, having gained points last week, now we have lost points, with teams around us coming from behind to win.

Looking at the fixture list, there’s only one more away game outside Belfast (The best away games) this year, Coleraine on December 7th, which i’m looking forward to as I haven’t been to Coleraine for 2 years.

Before then, and afterwards, another long unbeaten and winning run needs to be made. To do so, a vastly improved performance is needed.

Photo Album

STEREOPHONICS – LIVE AT THE ODYSSEY 11.11.2013

Stereophonics were in Belfast for the second time this year, eight months after their last visit, in a bigger venue – The Odyssey, having previously played Waterfront Hall (though that was due to One Direction playing The Odyssey that night)

Support was provided by an American duo called The Wind and the Wave, who had some singalong songs and are worth keeping an eye on when they release an album in 2014.

Stereophonics arrived on stage, with three microphones (left, right and middle of the stage) for Kelly Jones to sing into depending on what mood he was in. Not sure “Three Microphones Jones” is a nickname that will stick.

Like their performance at Waterfront Hall in March, it was a mix of songs from their new album, as well as their big hits.

The crowd were enjoying it. They enjoyed it especially when oversized balloons were released, some of which landed on the stage, with Kelly Jones bursting one when trying to kick it back into the crowd.

Kelly Jones then recalled an early gig in Belfast which resulted in having a “Guinness related accident” in his hotel bed.

Biggest revelation from Jones was that “Indian Summer”, the lead single from “Graffiti On The Train” wasn’t even on the original version of the album, in a story he told when introducing it.

They ended with a five song encore, including a fantastic acoustic version of “Handbags and Gladrags” (Not one of my favourite Stereophonics songs) with they all grouped around a piano, which Kelly Jones got in exchange for a Stereophonics t-shirt.

Photo Album

Stereophonics Live At Waterfront Hall

Stereophonics Live At Waterfront Hall Photo Album

Stereophonics Live At Custom House Square

Stereophonics Live At Custom House Square Photo Album

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 15.11.2013

1. Stereophonics – Handbags and Gladrags (Acoustic)
2. Gary Barlow – Let Me Go
3. Boy George – King Of Everything
4. Classified ft Olly Murs – Inner Ninja
5. Nick Mulvey – Nitrious

Bit of a difference this week, there’s no X-Factor chart, mainly due to the fact that last week’s “Big Band Week” was nothing more than an advertorial for Robbie Williams latest awful album.

Plus, Big Band is an awful genre of music.

Meanwhile, Hugh Cornwell is doing a Belfast gig in January as part of the Out To Lunch Festival, Sounds like a good excuse for a Stranglers Top Five

FIVE SONGS BY THE STRANGLERS

1. Duchess
2. Golden Brown
3. Peaches
4. Big In America
5. No More Heroes

IS IT A BIRD? IS IT A PLANE? NO! IT’S A MURAL

You can thank Extramural Activity for this, as I probably wouldn’t have known about this if it wasn’t for them.

You should also check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Just to declare in case you’re wondering, I have no involvement in the website.

So, I ventured out today to the entrance of the Sliabh Dubh estate in Belfast to get some photos. Very impressive mural of comic book superheroes and well worth checking out.

Enjoy

Photo Album

LINFIELD 5-1 WARRENPOINT TOWN 9.11.2013

A historic game today, though I doubt it’s one you’d be talking about for years to come, as Warrenpoint Town visited Windsor Park for the first time.

Linfield’s impressive run of form began with a win against Warrenpoint, and was expected to continue against them.

Warrenpoint came to defend a frustrate, but that didn’t stop Linfield creating chances, mostly going wide and stretching the game. Sometimes, the final pass was just short, on other occasions, missing when they should have scored, or in the case of Matthew Tipton, forcing Warrenpoint’s keeper into a top class save from close range.

It looked like being “One of those days”, but thankfully, it wasn’t, as Andrew Waterworth put Linfield 1-0 up from close range.

From there, there was only one winner, but the insurance of a 2nd goal was still needed, and it came, created by Waterworth, just before half-time, when his cross (though it looked like a shot to me) was diverted in by Warrenpoint defender.

Game over, Linfield went 3-0 up early in the second-half when persistence from Michael Gault saw him win possession to cross for Matthew Tipton to head home. Tipton made it 4-0, but the goal will be remembered for Michael Carvill controlling the ball as it came out of the air, taking Warrenpoint’s defence out of the game, to set up Tipton.

Ironically, Warrenpoint became more attacking when they were 4-0 down, and scored from a penalty, though Linfield had a 4 goal lead again within minuted through Andrew Waterworth.

With a comfortable lead, Linfield allowed themselves the opportunity to give Brian McFaul and Conor McMenamin some game time.

Though the team has been mostly unchanged the past two months, it’s important that other players in the squad are ready for action when needed, such as James Knowles (Remember him?) when Michael Gault serves a 2 match ban next week.

A few weeks ago, i’d mentioned how Linfield needed to improve their goal difference, especially in relation to teams around them. The last 3 games have improved it by 10, 6 more than 2nd place Crusaders, as well as the 6 point lead over them.

Some big games coming up for Linfield, a League Cup Quarter-Final against Crusaders on Tuesday, and a trip to Dungannon next Saturday. Dungannon is one of my favourite away grounds, so hoping to be snap happy there.

Cliftonville away at the end of the month. Still haven’t decided wether to go, the joy of Bubble Matches.

Talking of nonsensical arrangements, you have to question why the County Antrim Shield Final is all ticket. Clearly an over-reaction to negative headlines after the Semi-Final. It’s as if those is charge want to stop people from going to matches.

Having seen the bottom two the past week, I think Ards might have too much for Warrenpoint. Hopefully, Warrenpoint will be able to host games at their own ground in January when Linfield are scheduled to visit. Never been there, and always enjoy visiting new geounds.

Though wether they would go down if they finish bottom, depending on who wins The Championship.

Was a bit surprised that Bangor didn’t apply for a licence to get promoted, as I always enjoy visiting there. Of the 4 clubs who have applied, my preferred choices to go up would be Carrick (never been), Institute (never been) or Larne (Haven’t been since 2005)

Apologies for no blog last week, I didn’t get any good pictures.

Anyway, onwards and upwards. Lots of away games coming up, a couple of big cup ties. Isn’t it all getting a bit exciting?

Photo Album

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 8.11.2013

1. Nick Mulvey – Nitrious
2. Classified ft Olly Murs – Inner Ninja
3. The Courteeners – Van Der Graaff
4. Drake – Hold On, We’re Going Home
5. Paul McCartney – New

Last week, was ‘Disco Week’ on X-Factor, and rather disappointingly, nobody sang ‘Disco 2000’, probably because it wasn’t a Disco song. X-Factor isn’t as much fun when they stick to the rules.

FIVE DISCO SONGS

1. Kelly Marie – Feels Like I’m In Love
2. Aneka – Japanese Boy
3. Boogie Box High – Jive Talkin
4. Lipps Inc – Funkytown
5. Blondie – Heart Of Glass

As a bonus, much love popular beat combo Unemployment Benefit 40 are playing a gig at The Limelight in Belfast next year, which is as random as you can get.

As a tribute, here’s a Top Five.

(NOTE : I’ve left out “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” by Robert Palmer cos it’s more of a Robert Palmer song. To include it, would be more controversial than leaving it out.

FIVE UB40 SONGS

1. Red Red Wine
2. Sing Our Own Song
3. Rat In Mi Kitchen
4. Don’t Break My Heart
5. Tell Me Is It True