Matches against Portadown had proved problematic for Linfield over the past two years, winning only two of the previous nine meetings, a run that included five defeats. The change in personnel and upheaval caused by off the field problems at Portadown meant there was never any danger of it being six defeats in ten games today.
The opening moments of the game were uneventful, with neither side creating any clear opportunities.
As in most games over the past year, Linfield’s best attacking moments came when Paul Smyth got the ball.
However, it was Andrew Waterworth and Ross Gaynor who combined for the opening goal when Gaynor ran through to Waterworth’s flick on and put a left foot finish past David Miskelly.
The goal came in a period when Linfield were having a lot of pressure but no real chances. Now they had a goal to show for it.
Within minutes, Sam Simpson put the ball wide after Roy Caroll dropped a cross. A reminder, that this game was far from won.
Despite being the better team, Linfield had only a 1-0 lead to show for it. If they could get a 2-0 lead, that would be enough to secure the points and avoid a nervous ending.
That goal came just over a minute into the second-half when Mark Stafford headed home from a corner.
The ball went over the line, though Portadown players protested the decision. From where I was sat (at the corner flag at that end of the South Stand) it looked like a clear goal to me.
Roy Carroll was forced into a couple of saves as Portadown tried to make an unlikely comeback.
With just under 20 minutes to go, a volley from Paul Smyth, celebrating his 19th birthday, made it 3-0 and put the result beyond all doubt.
Linfield took the opportunity to make a few substitutions, Kris Bright coming on from the bench and causing problems for Portadown’s defence as both he and Andrew Waterworth chased a goal they both craved.
Portadown got a consolation on 86 minutes when Robert Garrett fired home from long range. It was a goal that even drew some applause from the notoriously hard to please South Standers.
Within a minute, Linfield restored their three goal lead when Portadown tried to play their way of out defence and couldn’t the ball out of their own penalty area, and Kirk Millar won possession to cross for Aaron Burns to head home.
Andrew Waterworth got the goal he craved in injury time. Unfortunately for him, it was disallowed for offside.
It wasn’t a great performance from Linfield, it didn’t need to be.
If it wasn’t for Crusaders win, it would have been a good day for Linfield, with other results going in their favour.
Next up for Linfield, is a trip to Carrick. It’s a game i’ll be missing due to being at a wedding in England. I was hoping the Premier League Fixture Computer would give me a United home match next Sunday while i’m in North-West England, but no, it wasn’t to be.
The Premier League Fixture Computer doesn’t like me, after not giving me a United home game on the weekend Duran Duran did a concert in Manchester last November.
However, I do have a football trip coming up in the next few weeks, as i’ll be heading to Dumfries to see Linfield take on Queen of the South in the Scottish Challenge Cup. Hopefully it goes a bit better than the last time Linfield face a Scottish team.
That was the 7-0 defeat to Rangers last weekend. Sorry to remind you in case you’d removed it from your memory.
Naturally, the game against Ballymena scheduled for that weekend is postponed. Thankfully, Crusaders v Glenavon that weekend is also postponed, denying those two the opportunity to get points on the board while we are inactive.
There’s no immediate rush to play the postponed game against Cliftonville, but it’s important there isn’t a backlog of fixtures in the diary.
And finally, some self promotion, as I announce that 21st September will see the launch of a blog series called There We Were, Now Here We Are, looking back at the Windsor Park Redevelopment from start to finish.
The next Linfield games for me are against title chasing Ards and relegation battling Glentoran. Yep, you read those descriptions right.