After a three week absence, Windsor Park was my destination today, as Linfield took on Ballinamallard United. The day, would be dominated by off the pitch events.
The match itself was a non event, as Linfield got an expected routine win. I wasn’t expecting a 6-0 win, so i’ll more than happily take that.
Ballinamallard were set up to frustrate, and try to score on the break. It was important that Linfield got an early goal. There were chances, two of them were spurned early on.
The opening goal came just after 20 minutes, in comical fashion, when Phil Lowry tried to control to shoot, Alvin Rouse was out of position anticipating the ball to go elsewhere, and the ball went over the line.
From there, there was only going to be one winner, and goals from Matthew Tipton and Andrew Waterworth gave Linfield a 3-0 half-time lead. It was now a case of how many.
With Crusaders capitulating at Solitude, it was important that as many goals as possible were scored, with the goal difference so tight between Linfield and Cliftonville.
After a slow start in the second-half, Linfield stepped it up, makeing it 4-0 through Lowry.
A penalty gave Lowry the chance to get a hat-trick. Naturally, his shot was saved by the keeper.
This was now the perfect opportunity to give Ross Clarke some game time, which he got, and managed to make it 6-0. Inbetween, Ivan Sproule made it 5-0 with his first goal for Linfield.
Sproule was lively throughout, and was utilised, receiving more of the ball than in recent weeks.
A clean sheet, a win, six goals – Plenty to be positive.
However, it is events off the field that are taking a share of the headlines.
Farcically, and shamefully, Ballymena Borough Council has declared that the County Antrim Shield Final must be all-ticket.
Considering this venue was confirmed in January, to only now declared the game all-ticket is nothing short of a shambles.
Even more of a joke, is that I have never had to buy a ticket for a Linfield league match in Ballymena, and this the County Antrim Shield is a match that will attract less of a crowd.
Speaking for myself, i’m undecided wether to go. Mainly because of the hassle that will be involved getting the time out of work to go. (I don’t get home from work until 6, so it would be a tight squeeze to get home, fed and onto the road for a 7.45pm kick-off)
That match, will be the last cup final Linfield play with David Jeffrey as manager, as it was announced today that he will leave the club at the end of the season.
It’s probably the right time for both parties to have a break. However, the farewells have to stop, as there is a job to do over the next 10-11 weeks to ensure the league title is won.
Jeffrey deserves respect for his service and success as a player and manager, but that can wait until April.
I am slightly concerned by the timing. Ideally, it should have been made public at the end of the season. Managers doing a long notice period rarely work. Juup Heynckes is an exception rather than the rule.
That said, if we win 6-0 every game between now and the end of the season, i’ll be happy to be proved wrong