It was a battle of the Player-Managers at Windsor Park today as Linfield faced Glenavon, though Linfield’s Warren Feeney ruined that narrative by not naming himself in the matchday squad (Gary Hamilton was a substitute for Glenavon), as Linfield began with the same team that scraped home against Warrenpoint Town seven days earlier.
With both teams kicking off as two of four level on points at the top of the league, this represented a great opportunity for 4th placed Linfield to try and blast through some of the traffic at the top of the league.
The game started with neither side really on top, but Glenavon looked more lively when on the attack.
Linfield had their moments as well though, but most of the attacks usually ended with a misplaced pass or an overhit cross.
Having had problems in front of goal all season so far, today was no different.
Infuriatingly, Sammy Morrow wasted two of the better chances, by waiting for the ball to go to him, instead of going to the ball, allowing Glenavon’s defenders the opportunity to make a block or clearance.
It seemed so predictable, playing the ball out wide to get a cross in, Glenavon were able to defend them as they knew what was coming.
That said, there were some good crosses. The problem was, there was nobody in the box or running into the box, which turned them into bad crosses.
It seemed to sum up Linfield’s attacking play. You just never thought they were going to score at any point today.
When it looked like going into half-time 0-0, Glenavon got the all important goal from Kevin Braniff, from a soft free-kick after a shot hit a defender’s hand.
At half-time, Callacher and Morrow were replaced by Waterworth and Miller. Warren Feeney certainly wasn’t waiting to see how the second-half panned out before making changes.
Linfield improved in the early moments of the second-half, but it was Glenavon who had the best opportunity when Andy McGrory fired wide from inside the penalty area, unmarked as well. It’s the sort of chance teams miss when they lose 2-1. I was hoping it would be the case.
Glenavon being 1-0 up against Linfield hasn’t been a new phenomenon in recent years, they’ve scored 1st in 5 of the last 7 meetings, but only got 1 point in all of them games. Today, you feared it would be different with this Glenavon team.
Kirk Millar was again Linfield’s focal point, but like in the first-half, it just wasn’t happening for Linfield. In truth, Linfield weren’t making it happen for themselves.
Peter Thompson went down after a challenge by Alan Blayney soon after coming on. It looked like a penalty to me, the ref only gave a corner.
With 20 minutes to go, Linfield got a boost when Glenavon went down to ten men after Kirs Lindsay received a second yellow for a foul on Ivan Sproule.
After a succession of corners, you had a feeling if Linfield scored, they could push on and win the game. Just getting that 1st goal proved to be a problem.
As the game wore on, it was Glenavon on the counter-attack who looked most likely to score, showing Linfield how to use the ball, keeping hold of it in the final moments of the game and not giving Linfield a sniff.
After two successive Saturdays were results went in our favour, other scores went against Linfield today, with wins for Portadown, Ballymena and Crusaders.Though Linfield currently lie 6th, a win in their game in hand will see them go level at the top of the league (unless we win it 9-0, then we’ll go top)
The situation isn’t as bad as the doomsayers will make out, but a vast improvement is needed. One improvement, is the ratio of putting the ball in the back of the net
There was some good pieces of build-up play, but the end product was often missing.
The only time Linfield looked like scoring was when an Andrew Waterworth shot was saved by Alan Blayney, and it squeezed wide, when most around me thought it was going in.
It is important for Linfield that Waterworth returns to fitness and form.
Next up, is a trip to Ballinamallard, and a Monday night game at Crusaders, before a run of 12 out of 15 games at home, taking us up to the end of 2014. Better start turning Windsor Park into a fortress.
One of those games, against Institute, originally scheduled for 11th October, was postponed due to Northern Ireland playing at home that day (still think both games could have been played that day) has been arranged for Monday 13th October.
Very happy about this, as we’re not a game behind at the stage of the season when the league table is still taking shape.
Plus, I was worried it would be played on the Tuesday, when i’m at a concert. George Ezra, since you ask.