LINFIELD 1-1 GLENAVON 27.2.2016

Linfield ended February hoping to keep their title hopes alive and pull further clear of one of the sides below them to ensure automatic qualification for European competition, as Glenavon headed to Windsor Park, in one of the final games Linfield fans will watch from the North Stand. Not many will have seen a game quite like this.

There wasn’t a lot of action early on, as both sides cancelled each other. Joel Cooper got to the byline and fired in a cross that caused concern in Linfield’s defence, while Jimmy Callacher hit the bar with a shot after Sean Ward displayed some neat skills to create space to send in a cross.

Glenavon were looking dangerous on the break, and Declan O’Brien forced Ross Glendinning into a save that he could only parry, but thankfully Matthew Clarke was able to clear the danger by getting to the ball before the oncoming striker.

Soon after, Glendinning parried a long range shot, thankfully to a Linfield player. I’m not sure if the pitch at that end had something to do with it, but they were certainly two unnecessarily nervous moments.

Having already hit the bar, Jimmy Callacher was denied again, with his header going straight at Jonathan Tuffey.

Linfield were looking their most dangerous at set pieces, not really creating much from open play. Guy Bates wasn’t alert enough to score when the ball came to hit from a set piece.

Just as it looked like being 0-0 at half-time, Linfield got a penalty when a Reece Glendinning shot was blocked by a Glenavon defender’s hand.

Aaron Burns demanded he take the penalty instead of Ross Gaynor, winning that argument before putting the ball into the net. If he didn’t, he would have had a lot of questions to answer.

In the early minutes of the second-half, Glenavon had their best chance, when Linfield players misjudged a throughball which allowed Declan O’Brien to get in behind them, only to see Ross Glendinning rush off his line to narrow the angle and block the shot whenever it came.

Glendinning’s game, like the match itself, was to take a dramatic twist.

As Linfield attacked, Andrew Waterworth tried to find space in the penalty area., he is dispossessed, and Glenavon went straight onto the counter attack, similar to what Linfield did for their 1st goal when the sides met at Windsor Park in September.

Declan O’Brien was sent through on goal. Having come out of his line to block a shot earlier in the half, Glendinning was hesitent, and it proved fatal, giving O’Brien enough time and space to go around him, where he was then upended for a penalty.

There was no doubt it was a penalty, the only question was the colour of the card. Raymond Crangle was the referee, there was only going to be once colour – red, despite Mark Haughey heading towards his own goal to provide an obstacle for O’Brien should have he got past Glendinning without being fouled.

Haughey was soon to be finding himself on the goal line trying to keep out Glenavon when he was handed the goalkeeper’s jersey.

I’m not sure if it was an eventuality that was prepared for, or if it was simply because he was the closest player to Glendinning as he left the pitch, with both players swapping shirts.

Haughey was now dressed in a goalkeeper top with outfield shorts and sock combo, proper old school. All he needed to complete the look was a flatcap.

It wasn’t a great afternoon for Glendinning, having a few nervous moments, most notably punching out a free-kick unconvincingly in first-half stoppage time when Linfield were trying to see the game out.

I was at the opposite end of the pitch and couldn’t see who went in. I had to wait until Glendinning left to see the name on his back, which read HAUGHEY 5.

Haughey was put in nets due to the lack of a substitute goalkeeper on the bench. It is something I would have if I was a manager.

It’s easy to be wise after the event, but it was such a freak occurrence, the last Linfield goalkeeper to be sent-off was Wes Lamont in 1995, though Alan Mannus did go off injured to be replaced in goal by Michael Gault during a County Antrim Shield match in 2008.

Curiously, having a substitute goalkeeper was something Warren Feeney did for every game when he was Linfield manager. Like I say, it is easy to be wise after the event for an occurrence that is so rare.

Although not today, as Glentoran also had their goalkeeper sent-off today. I’m going to stick my neck out and say that must be the first time Linfield and Glentoran have had a goalkeeper sent-off on the same day.

Mark Haughey’s first job as a goalkeeper was to face a Kevin Braniff penalty, which he saved. It wasn’t quite the Kevin Braniff of old, he’s not quite as good as he once was.

Having won the game for Linfield when the sides met at Windsor Park in September, it looked like Mark Haughey was going to win the match for Linfield again, but maybe not in the way he would have expected.

David Healy responded by bringing on Paul Smyth for Guy Bates to play wide right with Aaron Burns playing in centre midfield to cover for Sean Ward who covered for Mark Haughey who was covering for Ross Glendinning.

Catch all that?

Bates wasn’t the only one leaving the pitch, as one of the officials was substituted, though sadly not Raymond Crangle. The Linesman left the pitch to be replaced by the 4th Official, the second time already such a thing has happened at Windsor Park in 2016.

Naturally, facing ten man with an outfield player in nets, Glenavon were keen to test Haughey, firing in crosses and attacking Linfield.

In truth, barring the penalty, Haughey didn’t really have much of an opportunity to showcase his goalkeeping skills, mostly cross catching.

Linfield backed off and invited Glenavon onto them, not making use of any possession they had in Glenavon’s half, desperately needing a second goal that would have killed off the game, despite only having ten men.

Despite the numerical advantage, Linfield were relatively comfortable at 1-0, Glenavon not really creating much in open play.

They would soon get a second opportunity to score from the penalty spot, with a spot kick being awarded for the ball hitting Reece Glendinning (with his back to play) somewhere, the TV footage was inconclusive.

Even allowing for the far fetched nature of the Irish League, there was no chance that an outfield player in nets was going to save two penalties, and so it proved, with Andy McGrory making it 1-1.

The goal made Linfield more attacking than they had been during the second-half, with both teams going for it in the final moments.

Mark Haughey was finally forced into a meaningful save when he tipped a goalbound header over the bar. Despite that, i’d prefer Gareth Deane to be in goals at Solitude next Saturday.

Andrew Waterworth had a glorious chance to win the game for Linfield in the final moments, but headed over from close range.

Waterworth then inadvertently got in the road to block a goalbound slice goalwards by a Glenavon player, and then Glenavon went straight on the counter-attack. It looked like being one of those days, but thankfully Linfield just about saw off that attack.

A draw was a fair result. Linfield were the most likely from set pieces, Glenavon from open play, though all three goalkeepers weren’t particularly busy during the day. The fact that both teams needed a penalty in which to score will back that up.

The worst part of this result came when all the other scores from today were digested. Crusaders drew 1-1 away to Warrenpoint. If Linfield had held on, they could have claimed to have made a point on Crusaders over a three game period.

We didn’t lose ground on Crusaders, but we’re at the stage of the season where we need to be making ground on them.

Linfield stayed six points clear of Glenavon, but it could have been nine.

They gained a point on Cliftonville, who lost at home to Coleraine, to be six points clear of them, although that could be anything between three and five as they travel to The Oval on Tuesday.

It’s an awful shame that they have a midweek game going into the Irish Cup tie next Saturday, isn’t it?

Of that cup tie, there’s no reason why Linfield can’t win. We’ll have to play better than we have today though.

We’ve let Cliftonville away with it in the two league games this season. To do so for a third time in the Irish Cup would be more than careless.

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THE FRIDAY FIVE – 26.2.2016

1. Lorde – Life On Mars?
2. Foxes – Feet Don’t Fail Me Now
3. Richard Ashcroft – This Is How It Feels
4. All Saints – One Strike
5. Lush – Out Of Control

Last night, saw the announcement of the line-up for Belsonic. It’s a bit different this year, in more ways than one.

For a start, it’s moved from August to June, and it’s now taking place at Titanic instead of Custom House Square. To be honest, i’m not that enamoured with the move to a new venue. I thought Custom House Square was perfectly fine in terms of location.

That was one of the great things about Belsonic, that you knew where and when it would be, instead of moving around every few years like Tennent’s Vital.

I remember in 2010 blogging about the expansion of Belsonic and how ambitious it was. It’s fair to say it has worked spectacularly. Hopefully, this move will do likewise, i’m prepared to give it a chance.

Looking at the line-up, There are two periods of six day gaps, which suggests there are more headliners to come. This would make it a month long event, similar to Live At The Maqruee in Cork. No offence to the Corkonians, but Belsonic has a better line-up this year.

When I was following the launch event on Twitter, and saw it mentioned as taking place in June, with no dates being mentioned, I was worried that a concert i’d want to go to would be on whenever i’m in France. Thankfully not, as it turned out.

So, of the line-up, here’s a chart for you.

FIVE SONGS BY ACTS APPEARING AT BELSONIC 2016

1. Stereophonics – Dakota
2. Biffy Clyro – The Captain
3. Ellie Goulding – Love Me Like You Do
4. Faithless – Don’t Leave
5. The Vaccines – If You Wanna

Meanwhile, talking of music events in Cork, Indiependence, taking place in a farm in County Cork announced it’s line-up, and it’s rather good. Here’s a chart from those on it.

FIVE SONGS BY ACTS APPEARING AT INDIEPENDENCE

1. The Kooks – She Moves In Her Own Way
2. The Strypes – Get Into It
3. Editors – A Ton Of Love
4. Ash – A Life Less Ordinary
5. Idlewild – American English

FOXES – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 23.2.2016

It’s a great time to be a fox, with Leicester City top of the Premier League, and their musical namesake Foxes having just released her second album All I Need, hoping to emulate her footballing namesakes by getting to number one.

It had only been fourteen months since her last Belfast concert, in December 2014 (also at The Limelight), so this was a relatively quick return to the city, but she was determined to make up for last time, launching straight into Body Talk, the lead single of her second album.

The last time she was in Belfast, she did a lot of gliding. No gliding this time, but a lot of jumping and dancing. To be fair, there were a lot of songs you can jump and dance to. This was the first night of a tour, so there’ll be a bit of dancing and jumping over the next few weeks.

It wasn’t all jumping and dancing, there were even some slower ballads. It didn’t really matter, she was comfortable in either role, effortlessly changing tempo between songs.

She’s had quite a few hits, and they were all on the setlist – Youth (which she said was one of the first songs she ever wrote), Holding On To Heaven, Feet Don’t Fail Me Now, before signing off with Let Go For Tonight.

Photo Album

Foxes Live At The Limelight December 2014

Foxes Live At The Limelight December 2014 Photo Album

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : Q – FEBRUARY 1992

It’s early 1992, and Q has two big interviews as their cover stars – George Michael and Lou Reed.

As you open the magazine, Tony Wilson (Or, as Q addressed him, Anthony H Wilson) felt Q’s wrath, being the subject of their “Who the hell does …….” column.

In news, Kurt Cobain introduced himself on stage in Newcastle as “I am a homosexual. I am a drug taker, and I fuck pot-bellied pigs” while relations between George Harrison and Eric Clapton were said to be strained, as they toured Japan together.

Recent research has show that the average Radio 1 listener is 29, while the average Radio 2 listener is 61.

Freddie Mercuty of Queen had recently died, and Q does a double page picture of him on stage at Wembley, with accompanying text.

Tori Amos gets a double page spread, before you turn over the page to see a three page spread on the recently reformed Procal Harum

Also getting a three page spread is Marc Cohn, on the back of his success with Walking In Memphis.

Q does a chart of celebs who have treaded the boards in Panto over Christmas/New Year including Rod Hull in Crawley, David Essex in Bradford and Lionel Blair in Stockport.

Cover star George Michael gets featured, as Q joins him in New York, where he is about to perform two concerts at Madison Square Gardens.

Talking of concerts, Q follows up their feature on George Michael with a five page spread on ticket touting.

Lou Reed gets six pages as he prepares to bring out his 25th album, this one focusing on death.

With 1991 having just ended, Q looks back at the year, genre by genre, in a twelve page series, and then follows it with a two page look at the tours and albums coming in 1992.

In gigs, Q reviews Ned’s Atomic Dustbin at McGonagles in Dublin.

ULSTER 20-21 SCARLETS 21.2.2016

Made the most of a free ticket this afternoon to head to Ravenhill to see Ulster take on Scarlets in the Pro 12. The tickets were given out last Wednesday in the Tourist Information Centre in Belfast as part of Random Acts of Kindness Day.

It was random and very kind, and I was more than happy to take advantage of it. It was part of a goodie bag, which also included a scarf and a calendar.

I was behind the goal at the Memorial End. The last time I was there, I vowed never to stand behind the goal at Ravenhill again, due to being packed in like sardines, especially bad at that end.

Today, wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t the biggest crowd at Ravenhill this season, the number of empty seats were noticable, and I enjoyed the novelty of having room around me when watching the game. That would probably explain why tickets were being given away for this game.

Ulster got off to a slow start, and Scarlets weren’t slow in exploiting it, Michael Collins scoring a try on 5 minutes. Thankfully for Ulster, the conversion was missed.

To give an idea of how bad the opening minutes were for Ulster, the loudest cheer from the home fans came when Peter Edwards of Scarlets required a change of shorts, and had to do so in front of the whole crowd, to cries of derision.

On 15 minutes, Aled Thomas made it 8-0 with a penalty, and it looked like Scarlets were going to run away.

A game can change very quickly, with a drop goal and a converted try putting Ulster into a 10-8 lead. The try came courtesy of Craig Gilroy, Mr February in my free calendar, and the other 5 points coming from Paddy Jackson.

Before Ulster could get settled into their lead, Scarlets immediately snatched it back with another try from Michael Collins. This time, the try was converted, giving Scarlets a 15-10 lead.

As the half headed towards it’s end, Ulster regained the initiative, with another converted try, to give them a half-time lead of 17-15.

Or so they thought, as there was enough time for a Scarlets penalty, which was missed, hitting the crossbar.

Ironically, there was a Crossbar Challenge on the pitch before the match, with nobody winning. I don’t think Aled Thomas was in the mood for claiming a prize.

After all that, Ulster would have their half-time lead, albeit a very slim one.

Thomas would have more joy in the early moments of the second-half to give Scarlets a 18-17 lead.

This was always going to be a game that would be decided by a point. Scarlets were now on the right side of that point.

Both teams then exchanged penalties, Scarlets going 21-17 in front before being pulled back to 21-20. Again, just a point in it, but Scarlets on the right side of that point.

Ulster spent the final minutes trying to get a winning point. Even a drop goal would have been enough. The problem was, they face a brick wall of Scarlets players.

As the clock hit 80 minutes, Scarlets kicked for touch to end the game, it looked like there was an opportunity for Ulster to keep the ball in possession and launch one last attack.

The ball was kept in play, but then bounced out of play. It was close, but ultimately agonising. It summed up the game.

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COLERAINE 2-3 LINFIELD 20.2.2016

Meetings between Coleraine and Linfield in recent seasons usually had a recurring theme. In five of the previous seven seasons since the current 38 game format was introduced, Linfield won the first two meetings, but stumbled in the third meeting, losing in 2008-2009, 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, while drawing in 2013-2014 and 2014-2015.

Linfield were hoping to make it three out of three, not to achieve some sort of milestone, but to put pressure on Crusaders and/or move further away from Cliftonville, with both sides facing each other this afternoon in The Big Two derby according to Crusaders Twitter account this morning, managing the impressive feat of “attempting a banter” and then ended up the punchline.

The match got off to an eventful start, with Ruaidhri Higgins heading wide from a free-kick. From where I was sat (on the halfway line) I thought it was going in. It probably should have went in.

Linfield then went up the pitch and hit the bar from an Aaron Burns shot. Coleraine then went up the pitch when Ian Parkhill headed home from a corner. All this with only four minutes on the clock.

Coleraine had made the better start and were looking to make the most of it, Ruairi Higgins tested Ross Glendinning from long range, before Brad Lyons was able to get space, too much space as players backed off to fire home from long range and put Coleraine 2-0 up after 13 minutes.

The game was only taking place after passing a pitch inspection at 11am. Linfield fans were wishing it hadn’t, with their side staring at a second successive defeat.

Linfield had no rhythm at all, playing against the wind, goal kicks were even hitting the halfway line, and passes going astray. Linfield players were struggling to find each other, which was surprising considering the brightness of their away kit.

It was all too easy for Coleraine, and it was with ease that they got through Linfield, having an attack which saw a two on one situation, the pass coming from the left wing position to James McLaughlin, through on goal.

Linfield supporters were resigned to going 3-0 down, but to everyone’s surprise, he blasted it over.

It should have been 3-0, it could end up being a turning point. It would only have been a turning point if Linfield get back into the game.

That miss brought back memories of a game in December 2013 when Coleraine missed a glorious opportunity (a penalty) at 0-0, and then Linfield scored a few minutes later. Little did I know, history would soon be repeating itself.

Within minutes, Linfield were back in the game, with a header from Aaron Burns, who also scored in the aforementioned game in 2013. Suddenly, Linfield’s tails were up, though it didn’t stop them going in at half-time trailing 2-1.

Despite being behind, it seemed like the game had swung in Linfield’s favour. The weather was in their favour, but they also had another force of nature going their way – they were attacking their fans behind the goal.

In the early minutes of the second-half, Coleraine’s goalkeeper had two kick outs that went out for a throw-in in their defensive third. At that moment, I just knew Linfield wouldn’t be losing the game. Coleraine had the look of a team who knew their best chance of winning was to keep Linfield out rather than score a third.

Jamie Mulgrew burst forward and had two strikes on goal. Linfield were getting closer and it felt like a goal was inevitable. There wasn’t long to wait, as a deep cross was headed back by Andrew Waterworth to Mark Haughey, who headed home to make it 2-2.

Soon afterwards, Paul Smyth fired wide from a wide angle, before he moved wide as Guy Bates came off the bench for Kirk Millar.

Linfield had a lot of pressure on Coleraine’s goal, but were largely frustrated, as goalward shots usually saw a Coleraine defender in the road.

The game calmed down, with the game in the balance, there for the taking. Both teams sensed victory could be theirs.

In recent years, Linfield have come from 2-0 down at Coleraine, but couldn’t leave with the three points, getting a 2-2 draw in 2009, and seeing their good work undone in a 3-2 defeat in 2012. They were hoping this would be third time lucky.

Smyth left the action to be replaced by Niall Quinn. Surprisingly, in my opinion, as I would have went with Stephen Fallon to come on in a straight swap.

Michael McLellan came on for Sean Ward with not long left, with Linfield getting ready to take an attacking free-kick.

From that free-kick, Linfield scored. It wasn’t for McLellan, it was hard to see who, with all the players celebrating in the goal. It turned out to be Mark Haughey.

Thankfully, Linfield were able to see the game out, and get a vital three points ahead of a vital run of upcoming games against Glenavon (4th), Cliftonville (Irish Cup), Glentoran (shower) and Cliftonville (3rd)

Coming from 2-0 down away from home on a horrible pitch in horrible weather is the sort of game that pundits say wins titles. The league table suggests that it won’t.

We were always going to get some result going in our favour at Seaview today, the ideal result would have been a draw. Crusaders won 1-0 meaning they are seven points clear of Linfield (with a game in hand) while Cliftonville are now five points behind Linfield, also with a game in hand.

Curiously, Cliftonville’s game in hand, away to Glentoran, has been scheduled for Tuesday 1st March, the midweek before Linfield’s visit to Solitude in the Irish Cup. Wouldn’t it be awful if the pitch was particularly energy sapping that night, and they dropped points?

Next Saturday, sees Linfield take on Glenavon, knowing that a win will send them nine points clear of their visitors. This game will be the last one that Linfield fans will be using the North Stand, as they prepare to use the South Stand from March onwards. Three points would be a nice send-off.

Other games next Saturday are interesting, with Cliftonville taking on Coleraine and Crusaders travelling to Warrenpoint.

Not long ago, you would have considered that game at Milltown to be a routine away win, but now Warrenpoint are on such a good run of form, they’re thinking about making a late title charge.

There is potential points droppage to be had by the North Belfast clubs. The important thing is, Linfield help themselves, everything else will be a bonus.

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MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : WORLD SOCCER – APRIL 1996

Alexi Lalas, one of the more recognisable US footballers, is the cover star of World Soccer, as Major League Soccer, the national league of the United States, is about to launch.

The creation of a national league was a condition for USA hosting the 1994 World Cup.

Lalas got a move to Serie A after the 1994 World Cup, and was one of the headline signings as the league was about to launch, signing for New England Revolution.

Four pages get dedicated to the launch, with a team by team preview, with most of the players being American, including players such as John Harkes and Roy Wegerle, returning from Europe.

Kier Radnedge, the editor, uses his column to pay tribute to the recently deceased Bob Paisley and Helmut Schoen, and suggesting that the signing of Faustino Asprilla might derail Newcastle’s title bid, similar to how signing Rodney Marsh did for Manchester City in the 1970s.

Japan and South Korea are battling to host the 2002 World Cup, with the decisive vote coming up on 1st June. Eventually, both countries would co-host the tournament.

Radnedge also writes about Pay Per View football, stating that it is inevitable in English football. It eventually happened in 1999, as a one-off, when Oxford United played Sunderland (followed later that season by Colchester United v Manchester City), before becoming a regular occurrence from the 2001-2002 season, with the launch of dedicated channel, Premiership Plus.

In news, Manchester United signed Britain’s biggest kit deal, with Umbro, believed to be around a total of £40m until 2002.

South Africa fans at the recent African Cup Of Nations have been honouring defender Mark Fish by taking fish to matches.

Ahead of Euro 96, Kier Radnedge interviews Spain manager Javier Clemente, where he declines to answer if he intends to call-up Barcelona’s Dutch born but Spain eligible Jordi Cruyff, and declares England as favourites for Euro 96, but that the standard of club football in England has decline in the past decade.

Faustino Asprilla, who also appears on the cover, gets a double page profile.

World Soccer gives two pages to the recent Bosman Ruling, which has seen various clubs offer stars long-term contracts to protect their transfer value.

In Iberia, Atletico Madrid are aiming to win their first La Liga title since 1977, while a moustached Carlos Queroz has been sacked by Sporting Lisbon.

Oliver Bierhoff, just broke into the Germany squad, gets a profile. Little did he know, he would be Germany’s hero at Wembley three months later.

In Northern Ireland, Crusaders are on course to win the Irish League title. They didn’t, Portadown did. Bangor were struggling to avoid relegation, while the national team have arranged friendlies against Norway, Sweden and Germany.

Across the border, there are rumours that the League Of Ireland is planning to move to Summer Football.

Sami Hyypia, who attracted interest from Oldham Athletic, has moved to Willem II in Holland.

Brian Glanville uses his column to criticise UEFA’s proposals to allowing some countries to have more than one club competing in the European Cup.

On the final page, there is a feature called “Soccer Cities”, profiling football in a different city. This edition, was Glasgow.

PORTADOWN 2-1 LINFIELD 12.2.2016

The last time Linfield visited Shamrock Park, in November, they left after a fourth successive defeat, their season in tatters.

Fast forward two and a half months, seven wins and a draw from the following eight games saw them return hoping to get the points on the board to try and mount an unlikely title challenge.

With Crusaders playing Glenavon, their would be points droppage either directly below or above them, or possibly both. Add in the fact that Cliftonville were inactive (in league terms) this weekend, this was a game that would be best decribed as “must win”

Linfield had a good early start, spending the early minutes in Portadown’s half. You got the sense that Linfield needed to score when they were on top.

Gradually, Portadown got more and more into the game, without creating any clear chances.

Neither team on top, it was a game where you felt the first goal was going to be key. Portadown would soon be getting a chance to take the lead, when Marcio Soares went down soft after a challenge from Mark Stafford, who he had nudged over a few seconds earlier.

Ross Glendinning in goal for Linfield was more concerned with appealing for a goal kick, believing Stafford to have played the ball off Soares.

To everyone’s astonishment, referee Arnold Hunter awarded a penalty to Portadown. It would be the first of many howling errors he would make during the game.

If it was a foul, then surely Mark Stafford should have been carded? Arnold Hunter couldn’t even get a wrong decision right.

After a long delay, Mark McAllister put Portadown 1-0 up. Just about, after Glendinning got a hand to it but couldn’t keep it out.

Looking for an equaliser, Linfield were hoping that Andrew Waterworth would be the man to get it for them. As he raced towards goal, he was recklessly scythed down by Michael Gault, showing the type of skills that has earned him a move to Crusaders.

It wasn’t even a late or misjudged tackle, it was a wild kick out purely designed to stop an attack before it advanced into Portadown’s final third. There was no attempt to win the ball. Amazingly, Arnold Hunter only deemed the challenge worthy of a yellow card.

1-0 up, we were treated to a masterclass in timewasting from Portadown. The harsh economic clinate has seen Portadown outsource their ballboy services to Linfield players, and goal kicks and throw ins took an age.

It’s not the fact that teams do it that’s the problem, it’s the fact that teams get away with it, aided by referees who are too dumb and/or incompetent to notice they are being made mugs of.

Fans don’t spend a tenner to watch teams taking ages over dead ball situations, we spend our tenners to watch football.

Two minutes of added time were added on, Portadown spent at least thirty seconds wasting time on a throw in during this. The half ended on 47 minutes and 11 seconds with Linfield having a corner.

I’m not suggesting that Linfield would have scored that corner, but it would have been nice to have gotten the chance to see.

When Linfield are playing away from home, and attacking their fans, you always get a feeling a goal will come, regardless of how the game was going. Linfield fans were hoping that attacking their fans in the Armagh Road End would inspire their team to turn the situation around.

Jimmy Callacher went wide from a corner in the early minutes of the second-half. A few minutes later, a poor clearance fell to Ross Gaynor on halfway for Andrew Waterworth to chase, but David Miskelly was out of his goal to gather the ball and deny him.

Miskelly was aided by the fact he was able to gather the ball outside his penalty area. Never a red card, but as clear a free-kick you will see.

You’ve probably guessed by Arnold Hunter’s previous form, he waved play on.

Michael McLellan came off the bench for Kirk Millar. It would be kind to say it didn’t happen for Millar. It didn’t happen for any of Linfield’s attackers, despite the number of attacks and chances.

Philip Lowry soon made it 2-0 with a header from a soft free-kick, that looked to be it.

You still had to hope. There was still time left, and you got the feeling Portadown could capitulate if Linfield could get a quick goal.

Michael McLellan had a chance when the ball fell to him in the penalty area, but he sliced his shot wide.

Portadown thought they had made it 3-0 with a goalbound header that was cleared on the line, only to see a free-kick awarded for a handball by Ken Oman, which resulted in him getting a second yellow card.

The game restarted with him still on the pitch, only for the referee to realise he was still walking off the pitch.

Linfield soon had hope when Matthew Clarke slide the ball home. Clarke had a shooting free-kick in injury time but elected to pass to Jamie Mulgrew for a cross. It would have been a good move if it had worked. It didn’t work.

Five minutes of injury time was indicated, one minute of which was spent by Portadown wasting time at a throw-in.

The game ended on 95 minutes and 14 seconds with Linfield getting ready to take a corner. Like in the first-half, Linfield might not have scored, but it would have been nice to have seen if they could, considering there was a stoppage in injury time.

The game had ended in total farce.

Talking of farces, you might have seen it all over the news the kerfuffle of the allocation of tickets for Northern Ireland’s games ta Euro 2016.

I only applied for Poland, as it’s the only game i’m going out for. I got an e-mail on Tuesday to say my application was unsuccessful.

Due to it being in a relatively small stadium, I calculated I might have been on the border of the cut-off point. I thought I was just unlucky. I was offline and in a news bubble for most of Tuesday, and didn’t realise what had actually happened.

Hopefully, those who missed out get sorted in the coming weeks.

Thankfully, i’m able to get a ticket through a friend, so the situation is retrieved. I’m 99.9% certain of being in the Allianz Riviera on 12th June.

From the Allianz Riviera to the Ulster Riviera (that is what Coleraine is known as?) and it’s a trip to Coleraine for Linfield next. A win against Coleraine started the impressive Winter run of form, so why not have history repeat itself.

This definitely is a must win, with Crusaders playing Cliftonville. There will be points droppage around us next week (hopefully both teams) just like there was last night when Crusaders and Glenavon drew, which makes the result even more frustrating.

Despite not playing that well, Linfield still had enough chances and attacks to get something from the game. We didn’t help ourselves, nor were we helped by competent officialdom.

It’s gone, and it’s all about looking forward, with a big run of games coming up.

The home match against Glentoran on 12th March is anticipated to be the day that the South Stand becomes fully operational for Linfield fans.

Hopefully, we’ll be going into that game with six more points behind us and an Irish Cup Semi-Final to look forward to.

Photo Album

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 12.2.2016

1. James – Nothing But Love
2. Halsey – New Americana
3. Suede – Like Kids
4. M Ward – Temptation
5. Ok Go – Upside Down and Inside Out

The weekend, is Valentine’s Day, and this blog is going to get in the mood, as I like to cater for everyone, even people who “get in the mood” for Valentine’s Day, with a chart of songs with “Love” in the title.

DISCLAIMER : May no actually be love songs.

FIVE SONGS WITH LOVE IN THE TITLE

1. Erasure – I Love To Hate You
2. The Feeling – Love It When You Call
3. Lulu – Love Loves To Love
4. Bryan Ferry – Slave To Love
5. Soft Cell – Tainted Love