My (belated) first game of 2014, and it was certainly a memorable game.
When the fixture list was published last June, Warrenpoint away was one of the games I was looking forward to. With two away games scheduled, it was today’s game that excited me most, as (no offence to Dungannon) i’d never been to Warrenpoint’s ground.
I travelled by supporters bus and was there in plenty of time. There was segregation, but it was halfway behind one of the goals, which meant (like at Ballinamallard and Dungannon) you can stand behind whichever end Linfield were attacking.
Unfortunately, the size of the crowd meant it was usually two or three deep, so you had to squeeze in to try and get a good view.
Managed to get a good view for the second-half, where the players walk onto the pitch, but had to move on instruction from stewards, despite the fact that there were people standing there in the first-half. Ended up having to move to the corner flag.
Linfield started off the game more attack and had possession and situations, the best chance was when an Andrew Waterworth header was saved by Warrenpoint’s goalkeeper. I thought it was over the line, but the lack of protest by Linfield players and other fans would suggest not.
Midway through the first-half, Warrenpoint took the lead from a penalty. The rest of the half saw Linfield having possession but not doing much with it. As the half drew to a close, Warrenpoint made it 2-0 with a free header from a corner. Given what they had seen in the previous 45 minutes, it wasn’t surprising to see a lot of worried faces in the Linfield support.
The second-half began with Linfield having possession but not doing anything with it. It was all so predictable, Warrenpoint looked comfortable with every Linfield attack.
In fact, Warrenpoint looked the most likely to score, having a goal disallowed for offside, and forcing Tuffey into another save.
Due to recent problems, with Warrenpoint’s floodlights, the kick-off was brought forward to 1.30pm. Linfield, only started playing at 3pm.
In the second-half, most of Linfield’s play came through Ivan Sproule, making his debut from the bench. His pace, and ability to run with the ball opened up Warrenpoint, but the goal, still wouldn’t come.
After 84 minutes, it did come, a Waterworth header from a free-kick. There wasn’t much time left, but just enough for Linfield to believe they could get something from the game. On 89 minutes, an equaliser came, when a headed clearance fell for Mark McAllister to fire home.
Given how the game had went in the first 83 minutes, Linfield fans would have happily taken a 2-2 draw. But in injury time, a chance fell for Sproule, after he got in through Warrenpoint’s defence, which was saved by Warrenpoint keeper Parr
From the resulting corner, Mark Haughey headed home, and a remarkable comeback was complete.
With Wednesday’s match against Glenavon postponed, and Cliftonville winning, it was important to win and open up a six point gap again, especially with Cliftonville and Crusaders not playing today.
The league is off the agenda as it’s the Irish Cup next Saturday. I’ll give the home match against Dergview a miss. I’m in London on the weekend of the next round, and if we get through, I just know we’ll get a brilliant away game.
Three days after that, it’s a return to league action with a match against Crusaders. A great chance to land a potentially fatal blow to a title rival.
In order to do so, a vast improvement is needed. Oh, and give the ball to Ivan Sproule (on the ground) at any opportunity.