There’s no way to put a gloss on this, as Warren Feeney’s first taste of domestic cup action saw Linfield fall to a deserved defeat against second tier opponents.
48 hours after the league game against Institute, it’s no surprise that there many changes from the team that started on Saturday, nine in fact.
It’s easy to question the team in retrospect, but if Warren Feeney kept the same team, and then Linfield didn’t win on Saturday, people would have been quick to complain.
Yes, there were a lot of kids playing, but there was also a lot of senior Irish League players. Haughey, Quinn, Carvill, Glendenning and Clarke have played enough games not to be considered inexperienced youngsters.
The team that started last night should have been good enough to win.
Linfield had some early pressure in the game, but didn’t get a shot on goal, it was mostly misplaced crossed and defenders getting a final touch to clear the ball.
If Linfield had went 1-0 up, it would have set them up for a comfortable victory.
“If” is the biggest word in football. If Linfield went 1-0 up when on top at Portadown ….. If Linfield went 2-0 up when they were on top at Institute ……
Ballyclare’s attacking play for most of the first-half was restricted to speculative long range shots. That had a chance towards the end of the first-half when they got behind Linfield’s defence, but the shot was fired over. It should have served as a warning.
Like on Saturday, Linfield couldn’t get going in the second-half, and when Ballyclare got an attempt on goal, they scored.
In a game like this, the first goal was going to be crucial. If Linfield got it, it would have been a comfortable victory. Now that Ballyclare got it, they had something to defend and hang on to, not that they were actually hanging on at any point in the second-half.
Soon afterwards, Warren Feeney and Kirk Millar were brought off the bench. Millar, is quickly becoming Linfield’s most important attacking player. He didn’t have the best of games. There was no Plan B.
Ross Clarke, a player I have previously championed, was disappointing all night.
We learnt that Linfield were defensive shaky and in desperate need of another striker. In short, we learnt nothing new.
For the last ten minutes, Ballyclare were comfortable, which was the most damming thing about the performance. Linfield never looked like scoring