For the first time in two years, I headed to Coleraine, one of my favourite away grounds, to see Linfield take on Coleraine.
The reason I hadn’t been to Coleraine since October 2011 was simple – All four of Linfield’s visits since had been midweek games. It’s a bit of a trek you know.
Last time I was there, I actually missed Aaron Burns goal in the opening minutes. This time, I was there before kick-off, but once again Aaron Burns would be on the scoresheet.
Choice of ends, I went for the stand when Linfield were attacking the Coleraine fans, then behind the goal when Linfield were attacking their fans.
It was an entertaining game, with neither team hesitating to fire shots on goal, with Coleraine’s Wayne Drummond having to make some spectacular saves, and Coleraine hitting the post from a free-kick.
Despite that, it looked certain to be 0-0 at half-time, until a dramatic few minutes changed that.
Coleraine got a penalty for a foul by Billy Joe Burns. From where I was sat, it looked soft. Thankfully, Ruairi Harkin hit his shot against the post. A lucky escape. Given recent results, going 1-0 down could have seen the heads drop, handing the victory to Coleraine with 50 minutes to play.
Within a minute, Linfield got a penalty. From where I was sat, it looked soft. Surprisingly, Aaron Burns took it, as he had never took one before. Emphatically, into the back of the net.
Starting the second-half, the important thing was not to concede early, and guess what Linfield did? Yep, Eoin Bradley made it 1-1.
Coleraine now had the momentum, and hit the post with a long range shot. In truth, no side really had a period of domination, as the game went from end to end.
The ball fell to Mark McAllister, who smashed it home for 2-1. However, the game wasn’t won, and Linfield needed a 3rd just to be sure. It didn’t come, but it wasn’t for the lack of effort.
With not long to go, the inability to get a 3rd was to prove costly, as Bradley made it 2-2. Both goals looked like bad defending, but having seen the TV coverage, they are both good finishes by Bradley. But still, the defending could have been better both times. It’s now 9 games without a clean sheet, not that i’m keeping count.
It wasn’t until Coleraine made it 2-2 that Linfield made a substitution, more reactive than proactive, bringing on Matthew Tipton ……… and playing him in right-midfield.
Within a minute, Linfield won the game. A cross was headed on by Andrew Waterworth, which fell for Philip Lowry, who did just enough to touch the ball home and give Linfield the points.
Who crossed the ball in? Matthew Tipton of course. Bad luck Matthew, you’ll now be playing right-midfield for the foreseeable future.
A vital win, especially as Cliftonville, Crusaders and Glentoran all won. Thankfully, Crusaders didn’t increase their goal difference over us. There’s still 19 games to get that sorted and there’s a retrievable defecit.
That’s Linfield’s last game outside Belfast in 2013, the next away trip is Warrenpoint in January. Really looking forward to that.
Hopefully, Linfield will have got 4 more wins going into that game.
I only want two things for Christmas. Something at 5pm the next day …… and a big shiny thing in April.