Four as very much the number that mattered today as Linfield began the first of four games on the road, hoping that results would go their way and the gap at the top of the table would be reduced to four points. The got four goals, but the gap remained at seven.
It was Dungannon who had the better of the play in the opening minutes, causing Linfield more problems with their attacks than Linfield were causing them, a couple of corners having to be cleared and Ryan Harper firing a shot just wide.
However, it was Linfield who took the lead with their first attack when Mark Haughey headed a Stephen Lowry freekick into the net. As soon as it left his head it was going in, Dungannon’s keeper didn’t stand a chance.
Haughey had put Linfield 1-0 up when the teams met in August, but Linfield put in a disjointed performance and only managed a 1-1 draw. Their performance today prior to the goal mirrored the performance that day. They were hoping this time they would kick on and put in a performance similar to their visit to Dungannon in November.
Unfortunately, we got a repeat of the performance in August, the biggest moment of worry coming when a misplaced Jimmy Callacher pass almost presented Dungannon with an opportunity.
Linfield were dealt a blow just after the half hour when Aaron Burns came off with a shoulder injury. Surprisingly, it was Cameron Stewart who got the nod to play upfront ahead of Kevin Amuneke.
A few minutes later, they were dealt and even bigger blow when Dungannon equalised after Ally Teggart scored from close range. It was too easy for Dungannon, from playing it out from the left-back position, to getting the ball crossed from a right wing position. It was deserved for Dungannon.
The only positive for Linfield was, that this situation came in the first-half when they could do something about it at half-time, instead of in the second-half when there was no chance to rectify the situation, as when the sides met in August.
Linfield had their chances to go in at half-time in front when Mark Haughey headed over from a corner, while Andrew Waterworth had a shot blocked behind by a Dungannon defender, but for some reason a goal kick was awarded.
Unsurprisingly, Linfield’s performance improved at the start of the second-half, with Andrew Waterworth volleying over in the penalty area, before getting on the end of a Stephen Fallon cross to fire home from close range to put Linfield back in front.
Within a minute, Cameron Stewart took advantage of a mix-up in Dungannon’s defence to head home from close range to make it 3-1.
That was the game almost won for Linfield. They had to make sure they did nothing stupid in defence to make the final moments more exciting than they should be.
With just over 20 minutes to go, Jimmy Callacher finished from close range to make it 4-1. That definitely was the game won for Linfield.
The game became a non event in the final minutes, as Linfield ran out 4-1 winners.
Wins for Crusaders and Cliftonville meant hat nothing changed at the top of the table, Linfield sit 7 points off top and are 6 points clear of 3rd.
Next week (for everyone barring Ards and Carrick) the league takes a break. Linfield face the bottom five in five of their next six games. That is an opportunity to go on a winning run and gather some momentum. If we don’t, we don’t deserve to win the league.
All we can do is keep winning and hoping. The title race is far from over.
Next Saturday, is Institute away in the Irish Cup.
For me, there is a midweek trip to England to see Manchester United take on Hull on Wednesday night. I’ll be there from Tuesday to Thursday. I’d planned on going to Wigan v Norwich on Tuesday night but that has been postponed, but now i’m toying with the idea of Burnley v Leicester. Still undecided.