PORTADOWN 3-2 LINFIELD 28.2.2014

After a costly defeat at Windsor Park last Friday night, the Irish Cup draw offered Linfield a chance for instant revenge on Portadown, as they headed to Shamrock Park looking to reach the semi-finals of the Irish Cup.

As the rain fell, it It was Portadown who had the first chance of the game when Ross Redman got a sight of goal in the penalty area, but his shot was saved by Ross Glendinning. From the resulting corner, Portadown got a penalty for a handball. I couldn’t see who handled it, but it looked like a Linfield player. It was an utterly stupid thing to do.

Chris Casement stepped up, and Portadown 1-0 up.

Linfield reacted to that setback by having a lot of posession, especially in Portadown’s final third. Unfortunately, they didn’t do much with it. A familiar tale.

Linfield has some crosses and caused confusion and concern in Portadown’s defence. But that’s all it was. There wasn’t a chance for Linfield. There wasn’t a moment when Linfield had all that possession that you thought a goal was imminent.

The conditions weren’t great for football, but it was the same for both teams. Portadown were more able to adapt to the conditions and use them to their advantage.

When Linfield had a corner or free-kick, it was either underhit or overhit. Portadown were able to play their passes perfectly to create an opportunity. Their second goal was a perfect example.

Ross Redman hit an outswinging free-kick on the left hand side. He made use of the wind and got his trajectory perfect so that it went straight into the six yard box. The ball was loose, and Gary Twigg got a touch to put it in the back of the net. It was all he needed to do.

It was poor defending from Linfield. No matter how good a ball it was, it just needed someone to either get a touch on the ball to clear, or just put their body in the way to stop Twigg from getting a shot on goal.

I was behind the goal it was scored in, and thought it was an own goal, but it seems to have been credited to Twigg. There’s no Dubious Goals Committee in the Irish League, so it’ll go down as his goal, unless a Linfield player wants to claim the own goal.

Despite Linfield’s lack of options up front, if you defend properly and keep clean sheets, you can compensate for that deficiency.

Linfield’s response was to make a substitution on the half hour, as Sammy Morrow cam on for Warren Feeney. It summed up Linfield’s problems up front.

No offence to Warren Feeney, but he’s done as a player. Sammy Morrow is a capable Irish League player at best. If you’re playing against Linfield and they’re chasing a goal, and you see Sammy Morrow getting ready to come off the bench, you’re not going to be shaking with fear.

As the game approached half-time, you started thinking, that Linfield need to get to half-time at 0-2 or better, regroup at half-time, attacking their fans. They didn’t even get to that.

Peter McMahon had some space and a sight of goal. Surprisingly, he passed to Gary Twigg. Luckily for him, the decision was justified as Twigg fired home from a tight angle. Sat behind the goal, i’d originally thought it hit the side netting.

Whatever was said in the Linfield dressing room at half-time, it wasn’t a lengthy teamtalk as Linfield were out for the second-half long before Portadown.

Realistically, the game was over, but football fans don’t do logic. With Linfield attacking their own fans in the second-half, and if they get an early goal, you never know. Right?

Linfield never looked like getting that early goal. There was no waves of attacks on the Portadown goal. Portadown didn’t need to score, but looked the most likely team to score next.

Linfield’s only real attacking moments of note came when Ross Clarke got the ball and ran at goal. Every time though, he was usually crowded out.

Jimmy Callacher had a free-kick just fired over the bar. There was nothing in open play of note for Linfield.

Eventually, they went for broke, taking off Jimmy Callacher for Kirk Millar, and moving Ross Clarke to right-back. It seemed a bit Antonio Valencia to me.

On 72 minutes, Linfield pulled one back with their first real moment of quality, when Andrew Waterworth played in Stephen Lowry, who fired home.

72 minutes late, Linfield began to start playing, with Clarke and Waterworth firing agonisingly wide.

With ten minutes to go, the ball fell to Lowry in the penalty area, who fired home. Suddenly, Linfield were back in it.

For all Linfield’s possession in the final stages, they didn’t get a clear chance on goal. A familiar story throughout the season. As the final minutes approached, Portadown were able to take control of possession, making sure they had the ball in Linfield’s final third, as far away from their own goal as possible.

Portadown held out to reach the semi-finals, where they will face Ballymena United.

The fact the scoreline was made “respectable” in the second-half, shouldn’t allow the first-half performance and basic errors being made to be forgotten or overlooked.

Despite the disappointment of today and last Friday, the season is far from over this season.

Linfield face the bottom two in the next two league games, then travel to a ground they have an excellent record at. There’s no reason why Linfield can’t go into the split with three successive wins.

It’s unlikely Crusaders will drop seven more points than Linfield over the next eight games, but we have to be ready in case they do. If Crusaders are to win the league, make them win the league and don’t gift it to them like we did to Cliftonville last Easter.

Plus, there’s still European football to secure. And, hopefully, a lot of players playing for their futures.

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THE FRIDAY FIVE – 27.2.2015

1. Stine Bramsen – Karma Town
2. Paloma Faith – Beauty Remains
3. Eric Prydz v Chvrches – Tether
4. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Ballad Of The Mighty I
5. The Kooks – She Moves In Her Own Way

This Sunday, is St David’s Day. As is now tradition on this blog, we shall have a Welsh musical celebration for you. Sadly, having only 40% of members from Wales will disqualify Steps. And no, I won’t be using Andy Bell as an excuse to include Oasis.

FIVE SONGS BY WELSH ACTS

1. Stereophonics – Dakota
2. Marina and the Diamonds – Shampain
3. Manic Street Preachers – Motorcycle Emptiness
4. Lisa Scott-Lee – Electric
5. Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse Of The Heart

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : Q – JANUARY 1993

1993 begins with U2, voted World’s Best Act, on the cover of Q, fronted by a topless Larry Mullan.

Feel the wrath of Q, in their monthly “Who the hell do …….” column are Status Quo, never the darlings of the music press.

In news, Beverley Craven has announced that her forthcoming tour will be sponsored by Tampax, Tom Jones was appearing as himself in The Simpsons,

Sony have launches the Minidisc at a ceremony, where the musical entertainment was provided by Paul Young, after George Michael pulled out, having issued a writ against Sony to have his record contract cancelled, stating “Sony appears to view artists as little more than software”

The Shamen get a double page feature after having their first Number One in 1992, and denied that Ebeneezer Goode was a pro drugs anthem, instead, labelling it a parody.

Neil Young gets interviwed by Q, and is on the warpath …… against digital music, describing it as “It’s like sensory deprivation”

There’s a Led Zeppelin reunion of sorts, as the three surviving members and Jason Bonham accept a Merit Award at the recent Q Awards, attended by stars such as Wendy James and Jesus Jones.

Seven pages are dedicated to an interview with U2, where Bono declares that his biggest surprise of their Zoo TV Tour came ……… when people turned up to see them.

In the Album Chart, it’s a compilation battle, as Erasure’s Greatest Hits album beats Cher to the top spot.

Gig listings that month included B-52s, Jason Donovan, Beverley Craven (sponsored by Tampax), Del Amitri and Status Quo.

U2 announced stadium gigs in London, Leeds, Glasgow and Cardiff.

To finish, Shakin Stevens, now known as Shaky, is subject to a brief Q and A. He thinks Bob Dylan is a very good songwriter, can’t remember the last time he was drunk, can’t leave home without his golf balls and he would have liked to have met Elvis.

LINFIELD 1-2 PORTADOWN 20.2.2015

Portadown arrived at Windsor Park for the first of a double header of games against Linfield, a match moved as part of the NIFL’s “Friday Night Experiment”.

Portadown arrived at Windsor Park on the back of a 2-0 defeat to Cliftonville and without a recognised striker due to injuries and suspensions. Anybody thinking this would be an easy win for Linfield would do well to remember the number of suspensions they had on the opening day of the season, and won 3-0.

Warren Feeney continued up front for Linfield, his first playing appearance for the club at Windsor Park.

Not much happened in the opening minutes, no real chances, until Linfield started to get more possession. Most of the attacks were coming down the left, hoping that Aaron Burns and Niall Quinn could find a way around Portadown’s defence.

Linfield’s breakthrough came, from the right hand side, when a cross from Michael Carvill found Warren Feeney to head home. He didn’t know much about it, but they all count.

Linfield had a lot of possession but didn’t really do much with it. There were times when they seemed content to go backwards at times. Admittedly, if somebody tried a pass that was unrealistic and lost the ball, people wouldn’t be slow in complaining, but Linfield needed urgency. Somebody to make that run, somebody to play that pass. Somebody to make something happen. Portadown were comfortable without the ball, happy to let Linfield have the ball as they weren’t hurting them.

Sean Ward gave the ball away trying to shepherd it out for a goal kick. A warning, if it were needed, that Portadown were not out of this game.

A defensive mistake allowed Andrew Waterworth a run at goal, which he was unable to take. A minute later, he had a header off the bar.

Linfield suffered a blow when Glenn Belezika had to go off through injury. Thankfully, there was a ready made replacement on the bench in Reece Glendinning.

Linfield needed a second goal, and had a great opportunity to get it early in the second-half when they got a penalty after a handball in the area.

Aaron Burns stepped up, David Miskelly stood on his line and managed to save the strike which went straight down the middle. It was almost as if he’d done his homework.

Despite not offering much as an attacking force, Portadown were still very much in the game. Linfield needed that second to kill them off. There was a brief rally after the penalty miss, but not much in terms of chances for Linfield.

On 68 minutes, Aaron Burns gave away a stupid free-kick. From the resulting free-kick, Jimmy Callacher headed past his own goalkeeper. The ball, agonisingly, dropped into the net, prompting a delayed celebration from the Portadown fans at the opposite end of the ground.

Last season, a 1-1 draw at home to Portadown put Linfield’s backs up against the wall in the title race. This season, it looked like the same would be happening, albeit, with more games to make up the defecit.

Thankfully, Linfield had more than 20 minutes to rectify the situation. They didn’t look like doing it, always running in to trouble and giving away soft possession.

Stephen Lowry came on as a sub for Jamie Mulgrew. The crowd voiced their disapproval. The game was crying out for Kirk Millar to be introduced as Linfield’s 3rd sub.

One incident summed up Linfield’s lack of ideas in the second-half. Portadown kicked the ball out for one of their injured players to get treatment. Linfield threw it out for a goal-kick, allowing Portadown more time to kill the game, rather than throwing it to their defence/keeper and making them play it and keep the game live.

The was an all round lack of smartness in Linfield’s game in the second-half. It was all too predictable.

Portadown had an effort hit the bar after a scramble from a set piece, before Robert Garrett set up Sean Mackle to get in behind Linfield’s defence to fire Portadown 2-1 in front.

Despite there still being time remaining, the result was never in doubt for Portadown. They weren’t hanging on, Linfield weren’t putting them under pressure. After 44 minutes of next to no urgency, it was hardly going to increase in the final minutes.

Once again, Linfield throw away a lead, and throw away points. It’s been a recurring theme all season, especially in the last two months. Surely at some point, the penny will drop not to try to defend leads and to kill off teams when they have the chance.

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ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN – LIVE AT MANDELA HALL 17.2.2015

One song in, Ian McCullough, wearing sunglasses indoors and shouting at the sound guys to give them “less feedback and more bollocks”, it was what you would call Classic McCullough.

After a five year absence from Belfast, Echo and the Bunnymen made a return to the city on Tuesday night, for a gig at Mandela Hall.

This was my third Bunnymen gig, not bad for a band I thought i’d never see play live.

The first time I saw them was in May 2010 at Custom House Square. My most recent time seeing them was in April 2013, supporting James at SECC in Glasgow.

The current Bunnymen line-up, is the duo of Ian McCullough and Will Sergeant, Les Pattinson having left after their late 90s comeback and drummer Pete De Frietas dying in 1989.

They were supported by touring musicians, a guitarist and bassist stood to the left of McCullough, and a drummer and keyboardist buried behind amps. You might have been able to see them, but you could hear them.

Sergeant was stood to McCullough’s right and was in his happy place, stood on his own playing guitar, it looked as though he had a different guitar for each song, such was his collection.

The setlist was heavily drawn from their 1980s hits such as Rescue, Never Stop, Bring On The Dancing Horses, Bedbugs & Ballyhoo, Killing Moon and The Cutter. One of their hits, Seven Seas saw Ian McCullough mimic somebody swimming. That is quite a big deal for someone who doesn’t do many onstage theatrics.

Villier’s Terrace saw the crowd be treated to an inpromptu cover of Jean Genie by David Bowie.

It wasn’t the only cover they smuggled into their set included Take A Walk On The Wild Side (Lou Reed) which they amended to include Belfast and Merseyside references, Don’t Let Me Down (The Beatles) and Summer Wind (Frank Sinatra)

One cover that was on the setlist, intentionally, was People Are Strange (The Doors), which they recorded for the soundtrack of The Lost Boys.

After a Killing Moon/The Cutter finale, the band headed off stage, before returning for an encore, performing Nothing Lasts Forever (a curious title for a comeback single after a ten year absence) and Lips Like Sugar, to a rapturous applause.

The venue lighting didn’t immediately come on, giving fans hope for a second encore. They waited, and waited, and waited, before some men appeared on stage. They were roadies, dismantling the stage.

It was the only time all night the fans were disappointed.

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See Also

Echo and the Bunnymen Live At SECC 2013

Echo and the Bunnymen Live At SECC 2013 Photo Album

Echo and the Bunnymen Live At Custom House Square 2010

Echo and the Bunnymen Live At Custom House Square 2010 Photo Album

DUNGANNON SWIFTS 0-3 LINFIELD 14.2.2014

After two points dropped against Cliftonville on Tuesday night, the trip to Stangmore Park couldn’t come quick enough for Linfield, as they aimed to get back on a winning track, after only one league win in five games in 2015.

For most of the first-half, it was all about Linfield’s build-up play, as they were unable to break through Dungannon’s defence.

In fact, it was Dungannon who had the only shots of the opening exchanges. They were easy saves for Glendenning, but they were still able to get a strike on goal.

Eventually, Linfield began to take control of the game and began to look like scoring. The best moment came when Stephen Lowry burst through, but his shot was well saved.

It was a game that was crying out for Ross Clarke, surprisingly named on the bench, to be introduced.

At half-time, he was coming on for Stephen Lowry.

The first time Linfield were able to get Clarke on the ball, saw him win a corner kick that resulted in Linfield’s first goal, when Aaron Burns fired home from inside the penalty area.

The ball didn’t hit the netting but it was clearly over the line. The lack of protest from Dungannon players backed that up.

Despite Linfield going deservedly in front, the game was far from won, with a poor clearance from Ross Glendenning presenting an opportunity for Jamie Douglas, who fired wide.

With twenty minutes to go, Andrew Waterworth kept a move alive by playing the ball left to Grant McCann, who crossed for Jimmy Callacher to head home.

Despite throwing away a 2-0 lead on Tuesday night, you knew a 2-0 lead would be ok for Linfield today.

To add icing to the cake, Andrew Waterworth headed home to make it 3-0.

Crusaders won today, so there was no ground made up in the table. Given the score at half-time, thankfully, there was none lost.

Up next, a double header against Portadown.

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LINFIELD 2-2 CLIFTONVILLE 10.2.2015

Re-arranged due to the League Cup Final, Linfield faced Cliftonville looking to get a win that would take them one point behind Crusaders.

Linfield got off to a quick start, with Glenn Belezika bursting through to have a strike on goal, before Andrew Waterworth won a penalty that was finished by Aaron Burns.

Burns almost made it 2-0 soon afterwards, but he was unable to get his head on Ross Clarke’s cross.

Every time Linfield went forward, Cliftonville’s defence look nervous.

It was similar to the meeting in October, when Linfield were made to pay for not making it 2-0 when they were on top.

This time, Linfield made it 2-0 when they were on top, when some nice passing between Aaron Burns and Niall Quinn saw them create the space to cross for Jamie Mulgrew to head home.

Andrew Waterworth had a half-chance to make it 3-0, unable to get enough contact on the ball to fire it into the net, after putting it past the goalkeeper, who had rushed off his line.

Cliftonville weren’t out of it when Joe Gormley got behind Linfield’s defence and forced Ross Glendenning into a save, with the ball going out for a corner.

With Linfield’s lack of clean sheets this season, they needed a 3rd goal, and the best way of getting one seemed to be by passing the ball to Ross Clarke for him to run at Cliftonville’s defence. The only way they could stop him was by committing cynical fouls.

As the minutes went by, Cliftonville didn’t offer much and didn’t look like scoring, until a long ball up the field saw substitute Martin Murray beat Sean Ward to the ball, and finish in off the post. It was poor from Ward, he should have either won the ball, or made sure he won a free-kick. He shouldn’t have been giving Murray a sight at goal.

Suddenly, Cliftonville had a lifeline.

It was clear that Linfield needed new blood on the field, but the only change that was made was an enforced one, when Matthew Clarke came on for the injured Niall Quinn.

There was one more sub. It was a sub which is becoming a cliched Feeney sub, bringing on a centre midfielder for a striker when defending a one goal lead. Usually, it is Seanan Clucas, tonight it was Stephen Lowry, coming on for Sammy Morrow.

It was another long ball forward that got Cliftonville an equaliser, when Joe Gormley was able to get space for Murray to fire home his second.

That wasn’t the end of the drama. Cliftonville having a goalbound shot saved by Glendenning, while a goalmouth scramble saw Linfield have an effort cleared off the line, and Andrew Waterworth had a shot saved in injury time.

It’s easy to say he should have shot, bit you can’t blame him for shooting when in that position.

Linfield might have cut Crusaders lead at the top to three points. In reality, it was three points thrown away.

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ESPANYOL 1-2 VALENCIA 8.2.2014

After taking in a Tercera Division game at lunchtime, by the evening, it was time for some La Liga action, as Espanyol took on Valencia.

The last time I went to Barcelona, I went to a match at the Nou Camp and a tour of Espanyol’s ground. I promised myself if I ever went to Barcelona again, I would do it the other way around. So, when I went to Barcelona recently, I kept my promise, taking in Espanyol’s match against Valencia.

This was a good choice of match for me, as both clubs are on the UEFA 101 Club list.

Getting a ticket for this match was easy, purchasing from a tourist office in the city on the Thursday beforehand. The number of empty seats in the stadium suggests I could have just turned up on the day with no problems.

For those who have watched a match at the Power8 stadium, I was along the side of the pitch, where the TV cameras were situated.

One new addition to the stadium since I last visit was a statue of Dani Jarque, an Espanyol player who died during the summer of 2009, soon after captaining the club in their opening game at the ground.

The quality of attacking was poor, both teams looked short of ideas going forward. Both team’s defending wasn’t that impressive either, gifting chances which weren’t taken.

Espanyol’s best moment came when Felipe Caicedo burst through but fired straight at the keeper.

It was a game that had the look of a 0-0 draw about it, until Pablo Piatti got a touch onto a cross to put Valencia 1-0 up. The Valencia fans in the corner of that goal celebrated, as did pockets of fans sat in the home end.

It looked as though Valencia were going to smother the game and hold on for a 1-0 win. Espanyol had one big attacking moment when Christian Stuani looked certain to score, until a Valencia defender managed to get a block on the line.

Dani Parejo’s free-kick gave Valencia a 2-0 lead, which sparked an exodus of home fans.

Those that left missed an immediate response, when Sergio Garcia took advantage of some poor defending to fire home.

Espanyol now had hope, and the game became end to end, with both teams immediately counter-attacking every time they won the ball. As injury time approached, the game got niggly with players squaring up to each other.

Valencia were able to hang on, and climb into 4th, as they aim to qualify for the Champions League.

Espanyol can’t qualify through the league, but they can still reach Europe, as they have a Copa Del Rey Semi-Final against Athletic Bilbao to look forward to.

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CE EUROPA 1-0 MASNAU 8.2.2015

While in Barcelona, I decided to take in some lower league football. I didn’t do it the last time I was in Barcelona, simply because I didn’t know much about Spain’s lower league structure. Before this trip, I did some research, and decided to go to CE Europa, as they were in contention for promotion from Tercera Division.

Anyone with a basic grasp of Spanish would think I went to a third tier game, but it was in fact a 4th tier game. Spain’s divisional structure is : Primera Division (commonly known as La Liga), Segunda Division, Segunda Division B, Tercera Division.

The leagues are all regionalised and winning it doesn’t guarantee promotion – it’s just endless play-offs, but it is still worth winning your league going into these games.

I’d done a bit of research with regards to the location of the stadium, but even when I arrived there, it seemed a bit curious that I had to do a double take. The stadium just blended into the background, with children’s playpark and a gym meeting you when you arrive, with the stadium backing onto them.

The match took place on a Sunday lunchtime. CE Europa like to have a “Day of football” where underage teams, senior mens teams and womens team all playing on the same day. The pitch is synthetic, so can accommodate all these games. When I arrived at the ground, there was an underage game taking place.

The stadium itself has a main stand similar to the one at Seaview, and three smaller terraces, mainly due to the fact that there are apartments on those sides.

There wasn’t a programme culture in Spain, but CE Europa had a free newspaper available for fans. The club even handed out teamsheets. Refreshingly, both teams lined-up 1 to 11.

Within a minute, CE Europa had a penalty turned down, and a gentleman beside me screamed “PUTA!!!! HABRON!!!”. You’re probably advised not to translate that.

Europa had a lot of early pressure but no clear chances. Masnau also had their moments. I was secretly hoping they would score just to see if they had any fans in the ground. The game did look like being a 0-0 sort of game.

Towards the end of the first-half, a nice piece of skill in the box saw Europa get a penalty. After a delay waiting for it to be taken, it was missed.

There was a brief flurry from Europa immediately after that, with a header from the resulting corner going just wide.

The game had the same pattern in the second-half. Europa had a good chance saved, while Masnau had a half-chance fired just wide.

It looked like being a 0-0 sort of game, but a moment of quality saw a defence splitting pass fired home to give Europa a 1-0 lead. They were on top for the rest of the game and never looked like losing the lead, despite having a player sent-off in injury time.

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BARCELONA STREET ART

Having been in Barcelona, I took the opportunity to get some Street Art photos. The last time I was there, I got some Street Art photos, noticing that wherever there were shutters, there would be Street Art.

There turned out to be a reason for that, as the city has put a clampdown on Street Art on walls, but can’t do anything about shutters.

I did the tour, but also stumbled upon some pieces. Enjoy.

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