LINFIELD 2-3 BALLYMENA UNITED 12.1.2016

Under the moonlight, the serious moonlight, the tannoy at Windsor Park blasted out a tribute to David Bowie pre-match, with Linfield manager David Healy hoping his side could be heroes, and claim his first trophy in the job, and hopefully act as a springboard to some golden years.

It would have continued an impressive run of results for Healy, having been described as under pressure by some media outlets after four successive defeats in November.

Linfield, going through a lot of changes on and off the pitch, their stars look very different today to those that were lining up in years gone by under David Jeffrey.

As ever, all the young dudes of Blue Unity, complete with a little drummer boy, created the sound and vision.

Both side trade early blows. Linfield’s best effort was a Guy Bates shot was blocked, before Jamie Mulgrew burst through and hit the bar.

Despite that, Linfield were flat and never really got going. Ballymena took the lead when a set piece into the six yard box was headed home by Paddy McNally.

It was clear that Linfield were missing their starman of late, Paul Smyth, as they huffed and puffed but never looked like getting an equaliser before half-time.

Like in their previous two Shield Finals against Ballymena, Linfield found themselves 1-0 down at half-time. Those in the North Stand were hoping it would be a repeat of 2005/2006 rather than 2012/2013.

Linfield started better in the second-half, Andrew Waterworth getting space but firing his shot wide from an angle. Soon after, Guy Bates fired into the empty net from close range after a scramble.

Ballymena players lost their discipline and had a flurry of yellow cards. The game had now swung in Linfield’s favour.

Linfield now had their tails up and went in search of a second, but were shocked when a speculative David Cushley strike went in via a deflection. It was back to square one.

Linfield responded with a Niall Quinn header hitting the top of the bar, and Jimmy Callacher’s not getting the contact with a close range header he wanted. Sean Ward fired a shot just wide.

If Linfield were to get back into the game, they weren’t going to have a lot of match time in order to do so, with the usual charad of Ballymena players taking an ages with set pieces and kicking the ball as far away as possible Everytime the whistle blew for a stoppage.

The referee seemed content to be made a mug of.

Calamitous defending allowed Eóin Kane in to fire in off the bar to make it 3-1, and that seemed to be that.

With five minutes to go, Linfield got a lifeline when Mark Stafford headed home. Attack after attack followed, with both Kirk Millar both hit the woodwork. Linfield could claim they were unlucky, they really shouldn’t have been in that situation, giving away three bad goals.

As the final minute of injury time approached, a throw went to Andrew Waterworth who miscontrolled it straight out for a throw to Ballymena. That summed up the night.

The final whistle blew, and Ballymena fans were dancing in the street, and Linfield fans left with feelings of sorrow.

It’s a minor trophy, but it still would have been nice to win. It’s not the benchmark of Linfield’s season and should never be.

There was one positive for Linfield. It wasn’t at Windsor Park though, that came across the city at Solitude as Cliftonville could only manage a draw at home to Carrick Rangers, meaning they failed to take advantage of their game in hand and missed the opportunity to go above Linfield.

Time to get back on the wagon and try and get as many points on the board and see where that takes us. After all, it’s where we finish in Northern Ireland rather than County Antrim that matters.

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2 thoughts on “LINFIELD 2-3 BALLYMENA UNITED 12.1.2016

  1. Pingback: PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – JANUARY | Analogue Boy In A Digital World

  2. Pingback: 2016 IN PICTURES – JANUARY | Analogue Boy In A Digital World

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