Dungannon Swifts were the visitors to Windsor Park as the Irish League season nears the split. Linfield were already guaranteed a Top 6 place, but it was finishing 1st after 38 games that was the agenda.
Dungannon have never won a league game at Windsor Park, and had lost their last 9 visits. Added to the fact that Linfield have had their one dodgy result a season against Dungannon, a home was what was expected.
The first-half was uninspiring, with Linfield not getting any momentum or urgency. Despite that, two great chances were spurned – Mark Haughey with a free header from a corner, and Mark McAllister electing to cross when a shot would have been better.
If Linfield didn’t offer much, Dungannon didn’t offer anything. Set up to frustrate and try and nick one from a set piece, Linfield were able to snuff out the danger when Dungannon did go forward.
With Cliftonville leading 1-0 at Warrenpoint, getting the three points became all the more important.
The goal that Linfield needed, came early in the second-half, with an Andrew Waterworth strike from outside the box. His strike partner, Mark McAllister, was playing like a man possessed, desperate to make up for his first-half, as Linfield searched for the 2nd goal to make sure of the points.
In truth, 1 goal would have been enough, it just would have made the final moments nervy.
The 2nd goal came with 15 minutes to go when Michael Carvill knocked the ball past Dungannon’s keeper.
Now, the crowd were calling for David Jeffrey to utilise his substitutes. Up to this point, none had been made.
When Billy Joe Burns made it 3-0 after a pass from Waterworth, the subs were ready to be used. Three of them came at once.
The most obvious one, was Jimmy Callacher for Sean Ward. Ward is suspended for the game against Cliftonville on March 29th, so Callacher would be his natural replacement. He didn’t really have much to do in the brief period he was on the pitch.
Philip Lowry is also suspended for that match. Ideally, i’d play Ross Clarke out right and move Jamie Mulgrew into the middle. The substitution that was made was Robert Garrett (i’m still mad at him for his red card at Solitude by the way) for Jamie Mulgrew. Mulgrew appeared to limp off the pitch, so i’m guessing he was carrying an injury
The final substitution was Peter Thompson for Andrew Waterworth, an unexpected bonus to have him back at a crucial time of the season.
Goal difference could be important come the end of the season, Cliftonville have a lead of 1 in their favour. Points win prizes, and if Linfield keep getting 3 over the next few weeks, Goal Difference will become irrelevent.
Coleraine bound next Saturday, feeling a bit dirty about hoping for a favour from Glentoran, before the split begins. However, one game at a time before talking about the post split games.