Well, this wasn’t supposed to happen. Although, given Linfield’s opening day results over the past ten years, it probably was.
The new era of Warren Feeney’s league management began at the venue where David Jeffrey took charge of his first Linfield match, back in January 1997.
On Linfield’s last visit to Shamrock Park, they were 1-0 up inside 18 seconds. The start today wasn’t as quick but there were still early chances.
Both teams had attempts on goal early on, before Linfield began to make better use of the ball, getting into promising positions, mostly out wide, but not getting the luck of the bounce, or not helping themselves with a poor delivery.
Despite the fact that Portadown’s keeper wasn’t forced into a save, you had the feeling that a Linfield goal was soon.
A goal did come, but it was for Portadown, as Gary Twigg managed to get himself some space before firing home from outside the box. It was a shock to the system.
Linfied’s performance deteriorated for the rest of the first-half, it was a relief to get in at half-time to get their heads cleared.
Unusually, Linfield attacked their fans in the first-half rather than the second-half, meaning that wouldn’t have that advantage in the later stages of the game.
Despite being 1-0 down, Linfield were still in the game. You had the feeling if they got one, they could get another and win the game.
There were two quickfire goals early in the second-half. Unfortunately, they were both for Portadown.
Defensively, both goals were horror shows. A poor defensive clearance hit another Linfield player and landed straight at Gary Twigg to finish home from a few yards out.
You could say it was lucky, but if you’re in the positions, things like that happen in your favour.
When the ball bounced in Portadown’s penalty area, there wasn’t a Linfield player to take advantage. That was a massive difference today.
A new striker was always going to be a priority for Linfield. Today showed why.
Soon after, Portadown got down their left, and a Ross Redman corss was diverted into his own net by Sean Ward.
Even though there was plenty of time left, realistically, the game was over.
Worst part was how heads dropped in the immediate aftermath of each Portadown goal. It was like the last two years all over again.
Linfield had chances and moments in the remainder of the game, but realistically, didn’t look like even getting a consolation goal.
Portadown had chances as well, it looked too easy for them at times when they attacked.
With Cliftonville and Crusaders drawing, thankfully, today’s result wasn’t as catastrophic as it could’ve been, but it still hurts.
Thankfully, there’s another game coming up soon to put today behind us, away to Glentoran on Wednesday night. Glentoran is always a big game. It becomes bigger due to today’s result.
Today was supposed to be a new start, it turned out to be a false start. 37 more chances to put it right thankfully.