It was a new ground for me to visit as Linfield continued their pre-season preparation with a trip to Knockbreda, based on the Upper Braniel Road. It’s as close as you’ll probably get to High Altitude Training for an Irish League team.
Unsurprisingly, it was Linfield who dominated the early minutes, Chris Casement was played in behind the defence but played it across when he should have been selfish and shot, a Knockbreda defender getting in a last ditch tackle.
Last ditch tackles and sliced clearances were a theme throughout the first-half, and Knockbreda almost scored an own goal on a couple of occasions.
Eventually, Linfield’s pressure was rewarded when quick thinking from a corner saw a cross come in which was dropped by Knockbreda’s goalkeeper straight to Andrew Waterworth, who made no mistake
Knockbreda’s keeper would make up for that mistake later in the half with a superb one handed save from a Josh Robinson header.
A bit of pinball in the penalty area saw Chris Casement finish to make it 2-0. That was the game won for Linfield.
I presume it would have been planned anyway, but the commanding lead allowed Linfield to make changes at half-time. Caomihan McGuiness, Jordan Stewart, Michael O’Connor and youngster Lewis Houston entering the action.
O’Connor was the mystery man who scored twice to win the friendly against Waterford on Wednesday as a Trialist. When I heard his name, I thought we had signed the former Crewe player.
There was a Trialist on the field for Linfield today, wearing number 6 and playing in midfield. He was neat and tidy and did the simple things well, though we didn’t really see much of him as an attacking force.
Even though Knockbreda forced Gareth Deane into a few saves, Linfield’s win was never in doubt. The second-half was a non event.
The most exciting thing about the second-half was that there was a dog fetching the ball every time it went behind the goal.
Glenavon’s defeat to Molde confirmed that Linfield’s trip to Mourneview Park will definitely take place on Saturday 4th August. It was perhaps apt that a European match involving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should be decided by two goals in injury time. Sorry, any excuse to sneak in a reference to the 1999 European Cup Final.
Meanwhile, Cliftonville manager Barry Gray was complaining in the Belfast Telegraph about the IFA not doing enough to help Irish League teams in Europe.
He has some cheek, as his side shouldn’t even have been in this season’s UEFA Cup, but the Irish League believes in Play-Offs rather than merit. The whole League being dragged down because Ballymena fans moaned about their 7th place side having nothing to play for in April every year.
And in ten year’s time, we’ll be sitting about wondering why our co-efficient is so low.
Talking of Ballymena, their pitch has suffered some damage due to stock cars being more wayward than a Tony Kane pass.
Due to work on the pitch, you won’t be seeing any football at Ballymena until October. Or indeed after October when Ballymena start playing home matches again.
They should write a letter to their local MP to get the issue resolved, but I hear he’s busy.
Meanwhile, does any one know any good blogs that cover Sri Lankan club football? I’m going there for a free trip soon and would like to take in a game while i’m there. This blog post is brought to you in association with the Sri Lankan Tourist Office and is perfectly above board.
Back in the real world, up next for Linfield is a trip to the PSNI. They’ll be ready for this game and will have gathered intelligence on, I mean, scouted Linfield.
It is one of two games next week for Linfield, their last before the League season starts.
It’s been a busy schedule for Linfield this week and last week, it’s all about getting ready for Glenavon. One more midfielder and we should be ready to go.