Headed to Solitude today for the Irish League match between Cliftonville and Linfield. The game of the day, even though there was only three games on today.
Once again, going through the usual arrangements, though thankfully, there were buses waiting, which meant no standing about in the rain upon arrival. Unfortunately, that meant sitting on the bus for half an hour.
Anyway, arrived at Solitude hoping that for once, Linfield would turn up and show some balls. Amazingly, they did. Pity the refereee didn’t. A yellow card for Robert Garrett inside the first minute set the tone for a performance where he lost control.
It seemed as though Linfield players only needed to commit one foul to get booked, whereas Cliftonville’s could commit 2/3/4 before going in the book.
Linfield were in charge of the first-half without dominating, creating chances and looking more likely to score. Frustratingly, the ball never seemed to bounce the right way.
With each passing minute of the first-half, you had the feeling Linfield needed to make the most of it and score while on top.
With each passing minute at 0-0, you got the feeling Linfield would regret letting Cliftonville off the hook.
The second-half started, mostly even, with both teams having attempts on goal.
Then, three minutes that changed the game. Cliftonville got a free-kick on their left, a stupid foul from Michael Carvill. From the resulting free-kick, Marc Smyth scored.
As seems to be the case against North Belfast teams, Linfield lost composure after going 1-0 down. Within minutes, Robert Garrett got sent-off for a late challenge.
Even though the referee couldn’t get his card out quick enough (it was a straight red rather than a second yellow), he shouldn’t have been making that sort of challenge so deep in the opposition half when there was no danger.
He let his team down when they needed him most. The annoying this is, he was having a good game up until that point.
David Jeffrey reacted to the goal and red card by bringing on two subs, one of whom was Ross Clarke. The last two games, especially Ards, were crying out for Ross Clarke to be brought on.
You’d think i’d be happy with him being brought on. Well, I would have been …….. if he was played in his correct position.
From there, Linfield never looked like getting an equaliser. We’ll play worse and win, but the last two weeks have seen a massive opportunity to seize the initiative in the title race go to waste.
Especially the Ards game. I didn’t get any good photos of that game so didn’t write a blog about it. If you want, it can be summed up in three words ….. why no subs?
Unfortunately, we’ve let Cliftonville back into the title race when we could have buried them, for the second time.
Especially bad, as Cliftonville will be top on Tuesday night, as I can’t see Ballymena getting anything against them.
Last time Linfield lost at Solitude, they went on a five game winning run. In order to ensure today was just a blip, a similar reaction is needed. A run of 1 win in 4 is, how you say, slightly worrying. As is the run without clean sheets.
Next week is the cup, home to Ballymena. I’ll be missing that as i’ll be in London. Quite glad i’m missing out on a more mundane game as opposed to, say, Dundela or Ballyclare away.
London isn’t specifically a football trip, but i’m hoping to take in at least one game while i’m there. Most likely will be Brentford or Leyton Orient on the Saturday.
Spurs play Everton on the Sunday and I might try to get a ticket, mainly to tick Everton off my UEFA 100 Club list (On 30 at the moment, since you ask).
Also, on the Friday, i’m going to a TV recording near Wembley (Alan Davies Apres Ski. Yep, I like Alan Davies, what of it?) so might visit Wembley Stadium beforehand (It’s a late afternoon recording), even though i’ve already been there.
Usual arrangements with phototaking at Solitude.