There was a throwback to the old days on Saturday as Linfield and Glentoran met, separated only by a point and both unbeaten, with Glentoran knowing that a win would send them above Linfield in the table for the first time since the opening day of the 2014-2015 season.
It was to be a case of the same old, as it was the player who scored the winner the last time Linfield trailed Glentoran in the table did it again on Saturday, to put Linfield four points clear of their rivals, and more importantly, maintain their winning start to the season and keep the pressure on leaders Coleraine.
Early Linfield pressure brought that winning goal when Glentoran couldn’t properly clear a corner and the ball went out the left to Jordan Stewart. Stewart was booed by the away fans every time he touched the ball. However, that booing went silent within seconds when his cross was headed home by Aaron Burns.
It looked like it was going to be a rout for Linfield. Even at this early stage.
Glentoran soon reminded them that there was still a game to be won when Robbie McDaid was played through only for his shot to be saved by Roy Carroll, who got up in time to save Curtis Allen’s rebound. Between Allen and mcDaid, it should have been a goal for Glentoran.
Soon after, Aaron Burns had a chance for Linfield but his shot was saved by Elliott Morris. He couldn’t get enough space to get a clear shot at goal. He would have been better off blindly shooting towards goal when he had the position but not the space.
Burns was involved in Linfield’s next attack of note when Marcus Kane made a great interception in the penalty ares to deny him. That is, if you were playing Basketball. The clearest handball you’ll ever see, and no penalty was given.
Inbetween, Glentoran almost equalised in bizarre fashion when a headed clearance hit Robbie McDaid and went goalwards, only for Roy Carroll to save on the line. When Roy Coyle was Glentoran manager, you can be sure that would have went into the back of the net.
Linfield made a strong start to the second-half but could get a clinching goal, and began to give Glentoran far too much encouragement, with a James Knowles free-kick causing enough concern for Roy Carroll to tip the ball out for a corner.
As Linfield sought that second goal, Louis Rooney came on from the bench in place for Jordan Stewart. It was a surprise for Rooney to start on the bench considering he had scored four goals in one start and one sub appearance and had a lot of early momentum at the start of his Linfield careers.
Linfield were given another moment of worry when a cross come shot had to be cleared off the line.
Ross Clarke was brought on for Kirk Millar, his first League appearance of the season. His main moment of note in Glentoran’s half was keepball at a corner with Aaron Burns. That sort of tactic against Glentoran has bitten us in the arse before. I was sat waiting for the 93rd minute Glentoran equaliser.
Despite all of Glentoran’s possession, Linfield were able to hold out and do just enough to win.
While 451/433 does have it’s advantages, it has one obvious limitation in the shape of stifling attacks.
It may have been a necessity due to injuries a few weeks ago, but two strikers have since been signed, one of whom has gotten off to a goalscoring start.
Unfortunately, we’ll have to get used to it until we have a bad result or an injury crisis in midfield.
In the Scottish Challenge Cup, we’ve been drawn away to Dundee United. Games against Dundee United and Celtic mean this has been a memorable season for those Linfield supporters doing the 102 Club.
I’m hoping to go to Dundee, just to see Tannadice and Den’s Park so close together in the flesh. I would have preferred Stranraer for obvious reasons.
Up next, a trip to Seaview, and a big improvement needed. A 2-0 sends us top. 6-5 puts us joint top with an identical record to Coleraine. A win by any score will do.