DUNGANNON SWIFTS 1-2 LINFIELD 27.10.2018

After a first defeat of the season against Ards last week, Linfield were hoping to bounce back as they travelled to a ground they had a good record at.

Though, at lunchtime last Saturday, they had a good record at Clandeboye Park.

To say that Stangmore Park has been kind to Linfield in recent years is a bit of an understatement. Since a 1-0 defeat to Dungannon in November 2013, Linfield have won in their last six visits to Stangmore Park, scoring four goals in each of their last three visits)

Four goals and a win would have been great, but we all would happily have taken a 1-0 win.

With Glenavon’s match kicking off at 5pm, this represented an opportunity to get some points on the board and put some pressure on the Lurgan side.

Andrew Waterworth’s winning goal against Glentoran in the County Antrim Shield in midweek saw him restored to the starting eleven, while an injury to Josh Robinson in the same game presented Mark Stafford with his first League start of the season.

The early minutes of the game saw a lot of Linfield pressure. There had to be. Recent games have shown that if you give opponents something to defend, the task suddenly becomes bigger.

The closest they came to a goal when Andrew Waterworth flicked a corner goalwards, while Joel Cooper had a shot saved. Jamie Mulgrew also shot wide from a wide position, while Jimmy Callacher and Mark Stafford had headers go wide.

It wasn’t all one way traffic, as Dungannon had shots of their own, with Paul McElroy firing over after the ball was pulled back, while Roy Carroll was forced into a double save later in the half.

As the half looked to be coming to a goalless conclusion, Dungannon took the lead when a free-kick was headed goalwards by Douglas Wilson and it looped over Roy Carroll and in.

Just like last week, Linfield’s opponents would have something to defend, and Linfield would have 45 minutes to turn it around.

Whatever was said in the Linfield Dressing Room at half-time, it was short and to the point, with the players arriving out for the second-half well in advance of their opponents.

The siege on Dungannon’s goal that Linfield fans were hoping for didn’t materialise. Linfield were forced into a substitution in the early minutes when Michael O’Connor came on for the injured Daniel Kearns.

O’Connor for one of the wide players was a substitution we would have expected later in the game if Linfield were still chasing it. It wasn’t an ideal one to make in the early minutes of the second-half, but it could beworked to Linfield’s advantage.

Within a few minutes, Linfield got that equaliser, when Joel Cooper started a counter-attack in his own half, playing in Niall Quinn with one pass. His cross looked like it was going to be headed home by Michael O’Connor, but it evaded him, but it hit a Dungannon player and went in.

It was one of those horrible ones for the defender, where he couldn’t get his feet how he wanted them, and ended up putting the ball into his own net. It was a stroke of luck, but one that Linfield were more than willing to take.

The goal came a lot earlier than the equaliser came against Ards last week, with Linfield looking to avoid a repeat of what happened afterwards.

History almost repeated itself, as for the next five minutes, Linfield couldn’t get out of their own half, but thankfully were able to keep Dungannon out.

The tide suddenly swung in Linfield’s favour when Seanan Clucas was sent-off for a second yellow card. Linfield couldn’t take advantage of it. Dungannon were holding out.

Jordan Stewart came on for Kirk Millar as Linfield chased a winner. In fact, it was Dungannon who had the best attacking moment, with a Paul McElroy shot forcing Roy Carroll into a save, and Dungannon had a lot of the ball in Linfield’s half.

It looked like being one of those days. Even though they would move level on points with Glenavon, it would be two points dropped, especially with Glenavon having two games in hand.

As supporters would have been entering Mourneview Park for the 5pm kick-off, they would have been doing so with smiles on their faces at this scoreline. Suddenly, the smiles were on the faces of Linfield fans.

My view for the goal, well ……..

At grounds like Dungannon, I like to watch from one side for fifteen minutes, then when there is a break in play, go behind the goal, and then move to the other side.

During a break in play, I planned to move to the stand along the side of the pitch for the final minutes. I realised it was a bit crowded and there was no view, so I moved back to where I was.

As I turned back, the gate was closed, as they do for the final minutes. I turned around and saw the other gate being closed.

There were a lot of Linfield supporters at the side of the pitch. Realising it was crowded with no view, they asked to be allowed to move back but this was refused.

I found myself in a no man’s land, with a few other supporters, and we watched the game peacefully, until one of the security staff started to try and forcefully and aggressively push me out of the ground with seconds of injury time remaining.

All this could have been avoided with some common sense. They should have closed one gate first, and not done both at the same time, or they could have delayed closing the gates and allow supporters to move back behind the goal so they could get a view of the game.

Or they could have closed the gate earlier once it became obvious the area at the side of the pitch was filling up.

There were a lot of angry supporters at being fenced in like this. Due to injuries during the game, there was always going to be a lot of time added on at the end. They could easily have delayed closing the gates and avoid people being stuck. All it took was common sense.

It won’t stop me going to Dungannon, you never let people like that win. It seems to be a private firm that does their matches, and it’s not the first time away fans have had to put up with their dickish behaviour and attitude.

The usual case of baboons with badges, trying to act the big man to compensate for their small dicks.

The only thing that will stop me coming back to Dungannon in March will be if i’m travelling away to Northern Ireland’s Euro 2020 Qualifier that weekend.

The goal, came from Mark Stafford, not that I saw much of it.

Over the past few weeks, i’ve spoken of the importance of the squad. We’ve been operating on a core of 14 to 16 players in the opening weeks, and Stafford wasn’t one of them. He came in today, and won the game.

He wasn’t brought into the team to score goals, but his contribution was greatly appreciated.

Linfield held on and got the points. It wasn’t a classic game or performance, but it’s all about the three points.

We just need to go back to basics. We haven’t kept a clean sheet in four games, it’s a bad habit to get into.

We also need to cut out the “Hollywood Passes”. Sometimes they work, more often they don’t.

The win sent Linfield top, though only for a few hours, as Glenavon defeated Newry City 2-0 in the 5pm kick-off.

After the game, the draw for the County Antrim Shield Semi-Finals took place, with Linfield drawn away to Ballymena, meaning two trips there in the same week.

I’ll be at Old Trafford that night, but I don’t usually bother with Shield games unless we reach the final, so hopefully i’ll get to go to a County Antrim Shield game this season.

Tentative arrangements were made for Institute. 1pm kick-off has positives and negatives. I’ll wait to see what the final arrangements are and where we meet, as i’d like to head up early and make a day of it and try to do as much touristy stuff as I can cram into a morning.

The ticketing arrangements should have been sorted by now. Any game that is all-ticket should be on sale four weeks in advance. It’s a basic courtesy to supporters.

I’d imagine the tickets will be delivered when Institute visit Windsor Park on Tuesday. Thankfully, if they can’t get them on sale on Tuesday, we have two other Saturday home games between now and then for supporters to purchase.

I understand cup games can be confirmed at short notice, but i’d like to see a four week rule in place for League games. It’s a basic courtesy towards supporters. We all have different lives, and we can’t all turn up at Windsor Park at short notice just to purchase tickets.

Thankfully, the fixture schedulers have been kind in terms of ticket selling arrangements, giving us two to three home games.

Hopefully, by the time we head Foyleside, we’ll have three home wins in the bag. One game at a time though.

Photo Album

Advertisements

ULSTER 36-18 DRAGONS 26.10.2018

I should have been seeing Simon Day performing his characters but that was cancelled, so I now had a free Friday night.

That said, the cancellation was last month, so it wasn’t a dramatic change of plan, but with Ulster at home, I decided to make this my one Ulster match of the season.

I usually do one Ulster match a season usually a European game. However, the two pre-Christmas European home matches are inconveniently scheduled, both clashing with Linfield matches.

The home match against Munster on Friday 21st December was very tempting, but I want to keep that date free in case Linfield’s match against Glenavon is brought forward to the Friday night for TV coverage.

I popped down and purchased a ticket from the Ticket Office outside, which was unusually disorganised for me. Tickets were available on the day and it wasn’t as big a crowd as recent years.

Not only was I able to pick up a ticket on the day, it was very spacious in the Terrace where I was, as well as being able to see lots of empty seats in the other stand behind the goal and in the main stand.

Ulster’s season has been stop-start so far, wins usually followed by defeats, and the defeats were usually memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Ulster got off to a flying start and were 10-0 up (one of each, a try, a conversion and a penalty) after 12 minutes and looked like they were going to run away with it.

Dragons tried to launch a fightback by getting three points before a David Shanahan try (which was converted) made it 17-3 and gave Ulster some breathing space.

Any hopes Ulster had of an easy evening were put on hold when Dragons put ten points on the board to make it 17-13.

The dynamic changed in the last minute of the half when a Michael Lowry try, again converted, made it 24-13, giving Ulster some breathing space and changed the mood of the crowd at half-time.

I was stood behind the goal that Ulster were attacking, so in the second-half, I was hoping that I wouldn’t be seeing any action close up.

Both teams notched a converted try each to leave it 29-18 to Ulster with ten minutes to go, the game still not won, but no reason for Ulster to be nervous. Unless they conceded, that is.

It was Ulster who got the next try, which was concerted, to make it 36-18, exactly twice the opposition score, and with one minute to go, that was the game for Ulster.

A good evening’s entertainment and a good win for Ulster. Not a bad choice for my one game of the season.

Photo Album

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SMASH HITS – 29.6.1988

Carol Decker of T’Pau shares the cover of Smash Hits this week with an animated bee. No, i’ve no idea either.

As you open the magazine, there is a feature on Johnny Hates Jazz.

Patsy Kensit tells Smash Hits about her love of food, especially Kosher Food, with the headline asking if she is the greediest pig in pop.

Beside that, there is a full page feature on the career of Fleetwood Mac, as they get set for a UK tour.

Cover star Decker is joined by Smash Hits on the set of T’Pau’s new video, and interviewed on set.

The Communards are this week’s Singles Reviewers, with Jimmy’s favourite being Bomb The Bass, while Richard goes for Prefab Sprout.

In Concert Reviews, Wet Wet Wet’s concert at Glasgow Scottish Exhibition Centre is reviewed, with most of the 10,000 crowd fainting, it was that good.

The magazine ends with a poster of Bros.

ARDS 2-1 LINFIELD 20.10.2018

Having played everybody once, Linfield would be on the road for matchday twelve, the start of the second stage of matches, to face Ards, the side that they endured the most frustrating game in the first stage of games.

That game against Ards, was the only dropped points at Windsor Park, but trips to Clandeboye Park have been kind to Linfield in recent years, with three wins out of three and three clean sheets since Ards were promoted in 2016.

It was the second of four successive games against teams in the bottom five, representing a great opportunity to get some points on the board and some winning momentum, especially as they and Glenavon have pulled away from everybody else, and that Glenavon have a similar run of games.

It was a slow start for Linfield, never really getting going or penning Ards into their own half, and it was Ards who took the lead when a cross was headed home by Mark Kelly. If Linfield needed to be told to up their game, they certainly had to now.

During the 0-0 draw in September, Ards grew in confidence with each passing minute as they had something to hold on to. Now they had something better than a 0-0 draw to hold on to.

The response from Linfield wasn’t immediate. It didn’t come until the midway point of the first-half, with Robert Garrett having a shot deflected wide for a corner, before Josh Robinson thought he had headed home an equaliser, only to be denied by the offside flag.

Linfield now needed to step it up to get that equalising goal. It looked like Michael O’Connor was going to get it but he couldn’t get his leg on the end of a cross which flashed across the penalty area.

1-0 down, there was no need to panic at half-time, but the second-half performance needed to be so much better.

You got the feeling that if Linfield could pull it back to 1-1, especially early in the second-half, it would be a platform to go on and win the game.

Joel Cooper had a shot saved while Michael O’Connor couldn’t get a header on target as Linfield chased that equaliser.

Now midway through the second-half, David Healy turned to his subs bench, making a double substitution, with Andrew Waterworth and Niall Quinn coming on for Robert Garrett and Kirk Millar.

Waterworth was straight into the action, firing a shot over with his first touches.

A goal came soon after from one of the subs, but not the one you would be thinking, as Niall Quinn got to the ball just before Sam Johnston to put the ball into the net.

Linfield had the goal they craved, and there was still enough time to go on and win the game.

It was Ards who responded better to that goal, with Kym Nelson hitting the post from a long range shot, before Mark Kelly cut inside to stun Linfield and put Ards 2-1 up.

The opportunity came about from Jimmy Callacher jumping in to try and make a tackle, but there was no need to as Kelly was going nowhere.

With Callacher now on the ground, Kelly exploited the space that was now finish to make it 2-1. It was such a bad goal to concede, and at such a bad time. Linfield would now have to get back into the game all over again.

Unsurprisingly, Linfield had most of the ball but never looked like creating anything with it. It was all too predictable, long balls forward that David Elebert was easily heading away.

By this point, Jordan Stewart had come on as a substitute for Andrew Mitchell, his main moment was having a shot palmed away by Sam Johnston.

It looked like Linfield were going to get a penalty for handball, but a free-kick was given. From the resulting free-kick, it looked like Andrew Waterworth was fouled. The referee wasn’t interested. He also wasn’t interested when Linfield appealed after penalty box grappling every time Linfield had a set piece.

It just looked like one of those days, where it was going to be Ards day. Linfield started off poor, never got into a rhythm, gave Ards something to hold on to, and never took advantage of the momentum they had in the one moment when the game swung in their favour.

It had been so long since Linfield lost away to Ards, it was at Castlereagh Park. 1997 to be precise. I’m not sure of the last time Linfield lost at Clandeboye Park, but i’m guessing it was the early 1990s or the 1980s, though they did lost a friendly there in 2014.

Elsewhere, Glenavon took advantage with a win at The Oval against eight (yes, eight) man Glentoran, the first time Glentoran had three players sent-off in a match since March 1998. That afternoon certainly brings back a lot more fonder memories.

That will mean Glentoran will be three players down for Tuesday night’s game in the County Antrim Shield, though that might not be a good thing considering Linfield’s record against teams missing players.

Regardless of today’s result, i’d make changes and give some fringe players game time. We’ll need them at some point over the season.

Hopefully, Glentoran’s defending will be as statuesque on Tuesday as it was for Glenavon’s two goals today.

Obviously, with a few big names on the bench just in case. We should still be going out to win it, as we don’t want to go into next Saturday’s game on the back of two defeats.

Traditionally, Linfield have been rubbish in October so today’s result shouldn’t have been a shock. But still, we’re now needing to win to keep in touch with Glenavon instead of winning to put the pressure on them to keep in touch with us.

Glenavon’s match at home to Newry is a 5pm kick-off, so the trip to Dungannon is an opportunity to put pressure on Glenavon before they kick off. We simply have to. We can’t afford to let Glenavon get any further in front.

Photo Album

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : FOOTBALL MONTHLY – SEPTEMBER 1992

Steve McManaman is mocked up as a superhero called McMana Man for the cover image, as he is described as English football’s superhero for the 1990s.

Ian Wright is interviewed and has modest ambitions for 92/93 – to get in the England team and to win the Premier League and FA Cup with Arsenal, predicting that he can make the most of the new backpass rule which stops goalkeepers picking the ball up from a backpass.

Steve McManaman is the subject of a double page feature, predicting he will become Liverpool’s greatest ever player, as well as tributes from the likes of Alan Hansen, Bruce Grobbelaar and Bradley Allen.

Don Howe is the subject of a profile, having just joined Chelsea as a coach, and his happy to be in that role rather than being a manager.

In world news, Marseille’s new signing Rudi Voeller believes that he can score the goals to win the European Cup for the French club.

Meanwhile, Manchester United have rejected a bid from Derby County to sign Bryan Robson, with the Rams hoping he would have had the same effect on them in the 90s as a similarly aged Dave Mackay did in the 1970s.

The forthcoming Premier League season is previewed, with all the Football Monthly journalists predicting that Arsenal will be champions in 1993.

Leeds United get a four page profile as they get set to defend their league title, looking at their success over the past four years under Howard Wilkinson.

The new Non League season is previewed, with Wycombe Wanderers being predicted to win promotion to the Football League.

Manchester City manager Peter Reid is interviewed, stating he stands by all his decisions, with City hoping to launch a title bid having come 5th in 1992.

In Scotland, the return of Trevor Steven to Rangers makes them favourites to win the title in 1993.

In competitions, you could win with Hummel, but you had a choice of a pair of boots or a replica shirt of either Benfica, Denmark or Real Madrid.

The preview of the new Irish League season predicts Glentoran to pip Linfield to the title and Ards to win the Irish Cup. Ards lost the Final while Linfield won the league.

In Republic of Ireland, there are concerns that easier access could affect attendances at domestic games, while Bohemians are predicted to win the league.

LINFIELD 3-1 NEWRY CITY 13.10.2018

With it raining all day, it was certainly the weather for staying indoors with your feet up. That’s what Glenavon were doing, though that postponement was due to international call-ups.

This presented an opportunity for Linfield to go top of the League with a win over Newry City.

This match also represented a milestone point in the season, the eleventh game when everybody has played each other once. Well, that should have been the case, with two games postponed today (one due to international call-ups, and another due to Coleraine’s involvement in the Scottish Challenge Cup) and Ballymena United v Glentoran being postponed a few weeks ago, only half of the teams in the League will have reached that milestone today.

It was an unchanged starting eleven for Linfield, with Chris Casement having to make do with a place on the bench after injury. Thankfully unchanged, as it meant that Joel Cooper was fit to start having been substituted in the early minutes of the second-half at The Oval on Monday night.

This was Newry’s first League visit to Windsor Park since February 2011, though they did visit in the Irish Cup last season. Amazingly, there were two players starting this game who started that day – Robert Garrett for Linfield and Andy Coleman for Newry, both in their second spell at their respective clubs.

There would have been some doing a double take when the teams came out, with a clash of socks saw them wearing blue sock, and looking very much like HSV Hamburg.

Newry, unsurprisingly, were spending the opening minutes defending, and it was nor surprise when Linfield took the lead on 10 minutes when Jimmy Callacher headed home from a corner.

As in most games he plays, Michael O’Connor was involved in a lot of Linfield’s attacks, the closest he came to scoring was when he was just unable to get on the end of a low Joel Cooper cross.

Eventually, Newry began to show themselves as an attacking force, with Jimmy Callacher being forced to make a last gasp tackle to deny Newry, while Roy Carroll made a spectacular save from a long range shot.

It was perhaps apt, in the week that Alan Blayney announced his retirement, it was almost a cover version of a save that Alan Blayney made in this fixture in October 2010.

Daniel Kearns headed over as Linfield chased a 2-0 lead, which eventually came when Jimmy Callacher headed home again.

It was the third time he had scored two in a game, having done so against Ards in 2016 and against Warrenpoint earlier this year.

Linfield were in the mood to go in at half-time 3-0 up, with Joel Cooper hitting the post before having a low shot saved by Coleman, who would later stretch out an arm from close range to deny Michael O’Connor.

In that incident, O’Connor collided with a goalpost, but was thankfully able to continue.

The second-half continued with more Linfield dominance, with Michael O’Connor controlled but fired over, while a nice move saw Robert Garrett hit the bar and go out for a goal kick.

In search of a hat-trick, Jimmy Callacher had a penalty appeal turned down when he appeared to be grappled. The fallout from that incident saw Josh Robinson pick up a yellow card for dissent. It was the third yellow card this season he has picked up that could easily have been avoided. This is an issue that needs to be addressed by him, or else he will pick up a one game ban, and might not get back into the team.

The third goal that Linfield needed didn’t come, and suddenly they would need it, as a bout of pinball in the penalty area saw a Kevin McArdle shot be deflected past Roy Carroll.

Newry, were suddenly back in the game.

Before you could say that Newry were back in the game, they were back out of the game.

The goal jolted Linfield back to life, going straight on the attack, winning a corner, which was headed home by you know who.

Having sense that a hat-trick was on, Callacher was like a man possessed every time Linfield got an attacking set piece. Nobody was going to deny him the matchball.

That was the three points secured, as Linfield went top of the League, albeit that Glenavon have a game in hand.

After the game, it turned out the two sides could be meeting again next month, as the draw for the Quarter-Finals of the League Cup saw Newry City or Portadown drawn at home to Linfield or Institute. Newry City (2010-2011) and Portadown (2008-2009) have both eliminated Linfield from the competition since they last won it.

It’s been so long since Linfield won it, Glenn Ferguson scored the winner in the Final. I’m used now to just writing the competition off. I’m not even confident that we’ll beat Institute.

Next weekend, is a trip to Ards, a ground that has been kind to Linfield in recent years, so hopefully, another win can be notched up to keep the pressure on Glenavon, and everybody else in the League.

If things had worked out differently, it could have been a weekend of groundhopping instead. I’m not sure why I didn’t book it, but I never got round to booking a trip to Northern Ireland’s trip to Austria. If I did, I would have made it a double header and seen in Slovakia v Czech Republic this afternoon. If you care, Czech Republic won 2-1.

Not going to lie, I really wish Linfield were involved in the Scottish Challenge Cup, especially when you see the complete disaster Coleraine made of their trip to Connah’s Quay.

Saturday night game in North Wales, 2.30am boat home and a midnight meal in the Holyhead branch of McDonalds. Sounds like heaven.

Today’s trip to Windsor Park that I did make, was worthwhile and enjoyable.

Photo Album

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SMASH HITS – 19.4.1989

Wendy James of Transvision Vamp is the cover star of Smash Hits, having broken into the charts during 1989.

As you open the magazine, there is a poster of Fleetwood Mac and Rolling Stones haters The Reynolds Girls.

Smash Hits asks various pop stars if they are O-Zone friendly. Simon Le Bon states that the situation is “Bloody frightening”.

A Spokesperson for Prince Charles says he has given up using O-Zone damaging products.

Jim Kerr of Simple Minds will be hosting a show on Radio 1 about ecological concerns. There is also a cut out letter to send to lobby the Minister for the Environment.

Nathan Moore of Brother Beyond is subject to a questionnaire asking if he is a thug or a weed, with the result putting him in the middle.

There was a token for readers to get free badges – Kylie Minogue, Yazz, Rick Astley and Michael Jackson.

Smash Hits previews Madonna’s new album with a poster and an interview. The interview isn’t with Madonna, but the Songwriters she worked with on the album.

As well as hosting a show on Radio 1, Jim Kerr and his band Simple Minds have a new single out, This Is You Land, which gets the Lyrics Poster treatment.

Cover star Wendy James gets a two page interview, with the headline asking if she is the new Kylie Minogue, revealing that she was suspended from school for knocking over chairs in assembley.

Holly Johnson is the Singles Reviewer, wanting to sit on the fence for songs he doesn’t like such as Texas, Kylie Minogue and Cher. He awarded Best Single to I’m Every Woman by Chaka Khan.

There is a feature on Duran Duran, as they try to regain their status as biggest band in the world.

The magazine ends with a poster of The Bangles.