Didn’t we have a lovely time? The day we went to Bangor.
Due to roadworks, I arrived late, a couple of minutes into the game. As I entered the ground, Linfield were on the attack. It would be a theme that would continue throughout the game.
Andrew Waterworth had Linfield’s first chance of note when he outpaced an Ards defender to unleash a first time shot, which was well saved.
The reason he was able to get that chance soon became cleared as the Ards defender he outpaced had to be substituted through injury.
Ards were struggling to handle Waterworth all afternoon, being involved in. It’s of Linfield’s attacks, putting Ards players under pressure to the point they were conceding cheap corners and throws, giving Linfield attacking opportunities where they shouldn’t have.
The same also applied to Achille Campion.
Mark Stafford looked like he was going to put Linfield 1-0 up but he headed wide from close range.
Eventually, Linfield took the lead from the first moment they really cut through Ards defence, when Niall Quinn was played through only to see his shot cleared off the line, but fell perfectly for Achille Campion to fire home from close range.
It was reported in the media that was his first goal for Linfield, so it’s safe to assume that the goal against Cliftonville had been credited to a Tomas Cosgrove own goal.
It was indisputable that this was his goal.
Jamie Mulgrew fired wide from outside the box as Linfield looked to second goal before the break.
It didn’t take long into the second-half for that to arrive, from the penalty spot after Andrew Waterworth was bundled over.
It looked soft, but it was a penalty. Bafflingly, there was a similar incident in the first-half where Linfield didn’t get a penalty.
It was Waterworth’s first penalty (I think) since the last day of last season, and it had the same result, chipping it down the middle and ending up in the back of the net to give Linfield a two goal lead.
I wouldn’t recommend him doing that if he takes a penalty in the near future, as a lot of goalkeepers will have noticed that.
If Linfield were in a commanding situation, they had the game won a few minutes later when Stephen Lowry made it 3-0 , firing in off the post after his attempted pass to Andrew Waterworth was blocked, the rebound falling kindly to him.
Linfield the turned on the style, Kurtis Byrne going close to scoring,
With the game won, Linfield were able to let some of their players have a rest, with Mark Stafford, Jamie Mulgrew and Achille Campion all getting substituted.
Joe Crowe suffered an injury during the game just as Stephen Fallon was coming on for Linfield’s third and final sub, but was able to continued, though he looked pained as he left the pitch at full-time.
Unsurprisingly, the final minutes were uneventful, apart from an Andrew Waterworth effort that just went over, as Linfield comfortably secured the points.
Below Linfield, Cliftonville lost 1-0 to a Glentoran side rejuvenated under their new young and dynamic manager Ronnie McFall, meaning that Linfield now have a six point lead over Cliftonville, and can now start to look upwards in the table.
Above Linfield, Glenavon secured a late win over Carrick to maintain their lead over Linfield. However, Linfield had to face Glenavon twice before the end of the season.
The first of those occasions would be on the Tuesday night following this game. That will be covered elsewhere. It would be a Glenavon side missing the Linfield bound Joel Cooper through suspension after being sent-off.
3rd place is still up for grabs, and Linfield have to grab it if they have ambtitions of securing European football next season. Winning the Irish Cup will see us there without having to rely on others or to win a Play-Off.
It’s not ideal to be playing Glenavon on Tuesday before the Irish Cup Quarter-Final, but that’s where we are. I don’t think Glenavon considered it to be ideal either. As it would turn out, there would be no Irish Cup Quarter-Final on the Saturday.
We had no choice as we were backed into a corner due to the late confirming of games on the weekend of 16th/17th February.
Hopefully, the lessons of that, and the shitstorm that was avoided if Crusaders had reached the NIFL Cup Final have been learnt, and won’t happen again in the future.
That is definitely me finished discussing the matter. I hope.
Talking of fixture scheduling, Northern Ireland have announced a home friendly against Israel in September. A bit underwhelming. I’ve already seen Israel, so there won’t even be a novelty factor for me.
It also makes a mockery of the UEFA Nations League, a competition designed to get rid of international friendlies, if teams arrange friendlies when they don’t have double headers.
Apologies for the lateness of this blog, as I had issues with my laptop battery. Stay tuned for a look at the match which followed this ……. if you want to relive it again.