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.