This week, we go back to 1988, and the very first edition of NI Soccer Magazine, which is unsurprisingly a magazine dedicated to football in Northern Ireland. This edition is the very first one, and features the Northern Ireland team posing for a pre-match photo as it’s cover image.

The magazine opens by asking “Where are they now?” in relation to former Crusaders stars Roy McDonald and Denis Light. The answer is, working together having formed their own insurance business, while McDonald looks after Crusaders reserve team as well.

Billy Bingham gets a column as he aims to reach the 1990 World Cup, which would be Northern Ireland’s third successive World Cup, believing that he has a nucleus of good young players such as Allen McKnight, Gary Fleming, Anton Rogan and Kingsley Black to help him achieve that.

Alan Snoddy gets a column, encouraging people to take up refereeing, and lists some of the international and European club competition games refereed by officials from Northern Ireland, including the World Cup Qualifier between Iceland and Soviet Union.

Another aspect of football getting looked at is Scouting, and Jim Emery gets profiled, looking at his career to date, and commenting on the way professional clubs treat rejected trialists which he believes isn’t healthy for the game.

Having recently had his Testimonial, George Best gets profiled and his career gets looked back on.

There is a double page feature on those who love collecting things, with one page for programmes, and one page for badges.

There is a squad list for all sixteen teams in the Irish League, while Peter Dornan is questioned about wether Irish League teams should play in European competition. He says they should, despite poor results.

The magazine ends with a poster of Glentoran, who won the League in 1988.


The last time David Jeffrey sat on top of the Irish League table (Remember them days?), it was a result in a match between Linfield and Cliftonville at Windsor Park which knocked him off. History repeated itself, but in a lot happier circumstances than the last time it happened in March 2014.

Ballymena’s win over Newry City the night before sent them top, but Linfield knew that a win would knock Ballymena off the top and also keep them ahead of Glenavon, ensuring that next week’s visit to the Ballymena Showgrounds would be between the top two in the League.

Cliftonville arrived at Windsor Park doing their usual unnecessary use of away kit, wearing white/green/green and resembling Bulgaria.

Such is the Jeckyll and Hyde nature of Cliftonville, you knew they would resemble Bulgaria at USA 94. Wether it would be the group defeat to Nigeria (0-3) or 3rd Place Play-Off v Sweden (0-4), or the side the beat Argentina, Mexico and Germany remained to be seen.

Cliftonville arrived at Windsor Park looking for a boost after a bad week, losing to Ballymena in the League, and Dungannon Swifts in the League Cup.

That defeat to Dungannon meant that this would be the first of two meetings in five weeks, rather than the first of potentially three meetings in five weeks.

This was a match that I would be watching the first-half from The Kop.

Recently, having fans in The Kop was trialled against Ballymena, but not used against Newry City and Warrenpoint Town.

There were no concerns that it was being dropped after one game, but rather not being used against bottom six teams (Glentoran excepted). It was brought back against Coleraine, but I gambled that Linfield would attack The Kop in the second-half.

The game began with a lot of Linfield pressure. Cliftonville could barely get out of their own half. If Cliftonville players were wanting to “Leave one on” Roy Carroll in the opening minutes, they didn’t get an opportunity to.

Joel Cooper, in for the (I presume) injured Michael O’Connor, and Jordan Stewart were the main threats for Linfield down the left.

Cooper had lost his way a bit after getting injured at The Oval in early October, but a brief cameo at The Brandywell last week saw glimpses that he had found his way again.

That was evident in the first-half. Every time he got the ball, Cliftonville were scared of him, resorting to tactical and cynical fouling, which went unpunished in terms of cards, which only encouraged them.

Conceding lots of free-kicks by Cliftonville meant that Linfield were able to keep the pressure on. Cliftonville players were just getting to the ball, they weren’t clearing it. The ball was either going out for another corner, or it was being kept live for the Linfield attack to continue.

On one such occasion, the ball fell to Stephen Fallon, whose shot went just wide. From where I was sat, it looked like it was going in, and that he would repeat his feat from last season by putting Linfield 1-0 up against Cliftonville in front of The Kop.

The first-half was one way traffic, similar to the Irish Cup tie last season. Linfield found out the hard way that night about the importance of taking your chances when you are on top. They had to make this pressure count.

Cliftonville couldn’t hold out. On 17 minutes, Jimmy Callacher headed home to put Linfield 1-0 up. It was the second successive home match against Cliftonville that he scored in. The circumstances were different. On the last day of last season, the goal was just a consolation, a low point in a season of low points. This time around, it was a team chasing for the title looking to kill a rival in late November.

The pressure continued. Kirk Millar got his foot the a cross but couldn’t divert it in. Josh Robinson headed from a few yards out but couldn’t get the direction.

Andrew Waterworth missed a free header from a few yards out. He really should have scored. He didn’t need me to tell him that. The collective groans around Windsor Park told him that.

Within minutes, that miss was forgotten as Joel Cooper broke down the left and his cross was turned in by Andrew Waterworth from a few yards out. It was now looking like a case of how many will Linfield win this game by.

A third goal would have put the result beyond doubt. Linfield couldn’t get it.

As the half neared it’s end, Cliftonville made their first ventures into Linfield’s final third. One of those saw them do a cover version of Alan Shearer’s goal against Holland in Euro 96, always seeming to have an extra player in the attack, with Joe Gormley firing home.

It changed the whole mood around the first-half. At 2-0 up, it would be a matter of seeing the job out. At 2-1, Linfield were now having to make sure of the points.

They ended up happy for it to be 2-1 at the break, as sloppiness crept in during the final minutes, most notably Joel Cooper not tracking back because he didn’t think the Cliftonville player would keep the ball in, meaning they gained possession when he did.

In the aftermath of Gormley’s goal, Roy Carroll was booked for kicking the ball away, the first yellow card of the game. All this while Cliftonville’s cynical fouling went unpunished in terms of cards.

In the early minutes of the second-half, Andrew Waterworth fired wide when through from a tight angle, when Jordan Stewart (pass) and Joel Cooper (cross) were better options.

Just like in the first-half, Waterworth amended a miss within minuted by heading home to put Linfield 3-1 up. That would surely be the three points secured.

Nope, not yet. Within minutes, Cliftonville pulled it back to 3-2 when Jamie Harney headed home from close range. It was a bad goal to concede, especially when the initial header which set him up was at the far post, Harney finding himself unmarked in the six yard box.

If Linfield needed reminded that they were in a came, it came when Jay Donnelly ran unchallenged and his long range shot hit the top of the net.

It was frustrating from Linfield, as the match should have been put to bed by now.

It was obvious that Linfield needed to turn to their bench. They had some new options today, with both Andrew Mitchell and Lorcan Forde both returning from injury. In the case of Forde, it was his first appearance in a matchday squad after suffering an injury in pre-season, not long after signing from Warrenpoint Town.

Hopefully, Daniel Kearns, Cameron Stewart and Mark Haughey will be available for selection in the New Year.

Linfield were able to work with 14-15 players in the first two months of the season. That would never have lasted the season. In recent weeks, Stephen Fallon, Jordan Stewart and Mark Stafford (briefly) have come into the team. The squad is key.

Robert Garrett got the nod ahead of Mitchell to come on, replacing Jordan Stewart.

David Healy hoped for some punk poetry when Cooper was replaced by Clarke, with Niall Quinn being pushed forward.

That wouldn’t have been a sub I would have made, but it had it’s reward within a few minutes as Quinn got in behind Cliftonville’s defence to cross for Waterworth to make it 4-2.

And that is why i’m not the manager of Linfield.

It wasn’t the first time Waterworth has scored a hat-trick against Cliftonville (any excuse to bring up the 2017 title win) but it was the first hat-trick by a Linfield player against Cliftonville at Windsor Park since Chris Morgan in November 2000.

And that, definitely was that, even though Cliftonville did have a couple of moments where they went close.

As injury time approached, Daniel Reynolds came on for Andrew Waterworth. It would have been nice if Lorcan Forde had got on, to ease him into the team after injury.

Other results didn’t go for Linfield, but they won, which is all that matters. The most important thing is to help yourself.

Coleraine had another bad result. Of course, their only win recently comes against Linfield. Same with Ards. I’m quite glad that the next two League games come against teams on form. I hate it when we play teams on a bad run of form.

Glentoran are without a win in five games, which is a worry ahead of Boxing Day, so hopefully they can get a few wins before then. That is something I never thought I would write.

That result sees Linfield go 11 points clear of Cliftonville, albeit that Cliftonville have a game in hand. Realistically, they are out of the title race, if they were ever in it.

Though, I said something similar about Ballymena in late September. A few defeats can put you out of the race, just as a few wins can put you back in it. You have to review it on a game by game basis.

Tuesday night, sees Linfield travel to Ballymena United in the County Antrim Shield. It’s not our biggest priority in terms of trophies, but we’re in it, we might as well try to win it. And it would pop Ballymena’s balloon ahead of next Saturday.

Fingers crossed that David Jeffrey is awarded Manager of the Month before then, and suffers from the jinx as a result.

Ballymena’s form has grabbed the headlines, but Linfield have also found a bit of form, with eight goals in two games, five for Andrew Waterworth. Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that Ballymena were only one game unbeaten.

I won’t be there, i’ll be making my first trip of the season to Old Trafford and I have to say I am excited by it. Mostly about Manchester Christmas Market and Empire Exchange. Can’t say i’ve any urge to watch highlights of a 0-0 draw at home to Crystal Palace.

Next Saturday, Linfield travel to Ballymena in the League for a game that has 0-0 written all over it. If Linfield beat Portadown on the Tuesday after it, they will face five road trips (Ballymena x 2, Portadown, Dungannon and Newry) in the space of seventeen days.

If you’re stuck for ideas for a Christmas present for a Linfield supporter, petrol vouchers will be handy.

Elsewhere, a date has been confirmed for the Bohs v East Fife Scottish Challenge Cup game, Saturday 2nd February 2019.

That’s an Irish Cup date. If Linfield are out (heaven forbid) or have a home game against a lower league team, I might be tempted by a Dublin day trip.

It’s not petrol vouchers that Linfield supporters will be wanting over the next month, it’s three points, three more points, and then three more points. And repeat.

Photo Album


Death, taxes and Cast at The Limelight.

In the last few years, it’s felt like a certainty, an almost annual event.

It hasn’t been every year, but the last football season Cast weren’t in Ormeau Avenue in some shape or form was in 2014-2015.

When I say some shape or form, what I mean was, the last time Cast performed at The Limelight was in February this year, when only half of them were there. It was better than nothing though.

In late 2017, Cast were the support act for Shed Seven in a tour which didn’t include Belfast. However, a dose of illness in Shed Seven worked in Belfast’s favour when a Dublin concert had to be cancelled, and a Belfast date was added when the Dublin one was rearranged.

The full band weren’t able to appear, so John Power and Jay Lewis turned up to perform Cast’s back catalogue.

There is something about when Cast appear in Belfast, that they do so at the weekend. Their three previous visits have been Friday, Saturday and Saturday.

Cast’s back catalogue was the theme, as this was officially a Greatest Hits Tour, with the band promoting a new singles compilation album.

We began with some of the lesser known singles, before eventually moving on to the biggies, all sung word for word by the crowd, even covering for John Power at one point when he missed a word, hits such as Finetime, Sandstorm, Walkaway, Flying, Guiding Star, Live The Dream and I’m so Lonely.

We even got to hear Beat Mama, which I don’t remember being played live before. I do stand to be corrected though.

An underrated song, which was their last Top Ten hit and the lead single from Magic Hour in 1999.

The first stage of the concert saw Keith O’Neill and Jay Lewis on Rhythm Section having a musical duel, before O’Neill was left to perform drum solos on stage.

Eventually, the band appeared for the encore, their failure to do so in 2016 caused some annoyance amongst the crowd that night.

It was an encore which included Alright, with John Power signing off “See you soon” to the crowd.

On recent form, that would probably be correct.

This would have been the first of two visits to Ormeau Avenue in the space of a week, but i’ll be missing Blossoms due to being in Manchester. Hopefully, it needs to get rescheduled as that would suit me a lot better.

My first Limelight gig of 2019 will be Razorlight in February, the day after Chvrches, so that’ll be something to look forward to.

I’ll be giving Foo Fighters a miss at Vital as Vital is dire. Shit venue, stinks of fags, and a shit view, unless you’re a mate of a sponsor.

I’ve already got a CQAF event in my diary, as i’ll be going to see Kieran Hodgson at The MAC, which is nice, as I missed out on seeing him in Edinburgh this Summer.

And i’m sure Cast will be at The Limelight at some point.

Photo Album

John Power live at The Limelight February 2018

Cast live at The Limelight December 2016

Cast live at The Limelight October 2015


In answer to their question, appearing on the cover of Smash Hits is probably a good sign that Bros are famous. They found being on the cover of Smash Hits to be weird, having read the magazine at school.

As you open the magazine, there is a poster of Morrissey.

In competitions, you could win an Eddie Cochran single and a Levi’s T-shirt, or you could try to win an AC/DC satchel. Larry Mullan Jnr is interviewed, where he reveals people ask him to hold their umbrella for them while they got Bono’s autograph.

The American and Australian versions of Smash Hits had their Readers Polls, with the results being published. Duran Duran were popular in America, while Australian acts were unsurprisingly popular in Australia.

There is a profile of American star Taylor Dayne, riding high in the charts with Tell It To My Heart.

Kylie Minogue gets a poster an and interview, where she reveals she doesn’t like her teeth.

Debbie Gibson gets a double page interview, where she offers readers a guide to America.

In tours, you could see Pink Floyd, Robert Plant or Erasure if you wished.

Beastie Boys get a double page interview, where they say they want to start a Heavy Metal TV channel.

The Bangles get interviewed where Susanna reveals that her favourite music is Terence Trent D’Arby, Peter Gabriel and Rolling Stones.

Patsy Kensit reviews new singles, giving her favourite to Sting, and admitting to liking early Echo and the Bunnymen, but not knowing who The Doors were.

In concerts, Tiffany gets reviewed as she tours UK shopping centres.

The magazine ends with a double page interview with cover stars Bros.


It was a tale of two 0-0s for Northern Ireland and Austria going into this game, and it suited neither team.

While Northern Ireland were drawing 0-0 in a friendly with the Republic of Ireland on the Thursday before this, the real match that mattered that night was in Vienna, where Austria drew 0-0 with Bosnia-Herzegovina.

That result meant that the Bosnians won the group and got promoted to League A, the point for Austria put them out of reach of Northern Ireland, meaning that instead of this match deciding who would avoid relegation, it would effectively reduce this match to a friendly, now that Northern Ireland were relegated to League C.

Northern Ireland, like myself, have history with Austria. They’ve never met in a friendly, the first meeting coming in the 1982 World Cup, and then in three of the next four European Championship Qualifiers.

Northern Ireland dominated the head to heads in those three campaigns, winning four and drawing one of the six meetings. The three meetings since had seen two Austrian wins and a draw.

My own history with Austria goes back to 1991, and my first Northern Ireland match. Sort of.

I pestered my dad enough the night the two sides met that he eventually agreed to take me down to Windsor Park for the second-half. I didn’t see a goal, as the full-time score remained the same as the half-time score, 2-1 to Northern Ireland.

Fast forward four years, and it was my first proper Northern Ireland match, a 5-3 win in the Qualifiers for Euro 96. One of the goalscorers that night was Michael O’Neill, now Northern Ireland manager.

All else I remember about that game was that Neil Lennon missed a glorious chance to score, as I had to report back to a friend that the goalscoring machine of his Rangers midfield on Championship Manager wasn’t as good a finisher in real life. Also, that it rained non stop that night.

That isn’t my only time seeing Austria, as I saw them on their next visit to Windsor Park, a 3-3 draw in a World Cup Qualifier in 2004.

You have to admire a team that can score three goals against Northern Ireland and fail to win. And then do it again.

I’ve always had a thing for the Austrian team. Their kit always seemed brilliant, and then there was their goalkeeper kit at Italia 90, and of course, the legend that is Toni Polster, and Andy Herzog, who was recently at Windsor Park as manager of Israel.

It was probably apt that someone called Herzog should lead Israel in Belfast.

It was a case of unnecessary use of away kit for Austria, but since they reversed their colours in the 00s, I wasn’t too unhappy to see them wearing white/black/white.

Like Luton Town, I’ll never get used to Austria not wearing white.

Since their last World Cup in 1998, it has hardly been glorious times for Austria, only “Qualifying” for one tournament since – Euro 2016 (they played in Euro 2008 but qualified automatically as co-hosts)

They blitzed their way to France, winning nine out of ten games but ultimately disappointed when they got there, finishing bottom (as second seeds) in a group containing Hungary and Iceland.

Northern Ireland took the opportunity to make some changes to their starting eleven, which included five former Irish League players in the starting eleven.

The one positive about the Nations League has been blooding new players into the team such as Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Jamal Lewis, Jordan Jones, Gavin Whyte and George Saville into the team, as well as Liam Boyce getting an extended run of games.

There are a lot of players in the Northern Ireland squad in their 30s. Our youngest keeper at Euro 2016 was 32. Aaron Hughes, Jonny Evans, Gareth McAuley, Michael Smith, Craig Cathcart, Steven Davis, Niall McGinn, Kyle Lafferty and Jamie Ward will all be in their 30s by the time the Euro 2020 Qualifiers come around. Two of them will be approaching 40.

Chris Brunt and Chris Baird’s international careers are over and it’s highly unlikely that Roy Carroll will ever play for Northern Ireland again.

A rebuild will be needed over the coming years. We would be left behind if we didn’t have young players coming through.

It would have been nice if Bobby Burns and Paul Smyth were involved, having got call-ups for this game, and added the Irish League alumni in the matchday squad by three by joining Gavin Whyte on the bench.

After a slow start, Northern Ireland had the first chance of the game when Corry Evans had a shot deflect over the bar. Later, brother Jonny looked to have missed an opportunity to score when a flick on fell to him, but he was judged offside.

There was one moment that summed up Northern Ireland’s overplay. They had a corner on the left, and Steven Davis ran half the length of the pitch for a short corner. An Austrian tracked him as it was so obvious, and when the ball was in play, the attack died quickly, much to the crowd’s frustration. All the defenders were up, the ball had to be whipped in.

Austria had a few opportunities, but nothing to worry Trevor Carson, as Northern Ireland finished the half with a Niall McGinn free-kick going just wide.

At the start of the second-half, Austria took the lead when Xaver Schlager scored. Oh no, here we go again.

But, Northern Ireland dusted themselves down and recovered, and got an equaliser when a shot from Corry Evans deflected in. Finally, a stroke of luck.

Northern Ireland now sensed they could win the game, with Geroge Saville hitting a shot just wide.

Kyle Lafferty and Gavin Whyte came on for Liam Boyce and Niall McGinn as they chased the winner.

As they did so in stoppage time, an Austrian counter attack saw Valentino Lozaro curl a winner five seconds over the allotted two minutes of injury time. The same old story.

Even though the Nations League has been a success overall doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. We should be starting straight into Qualifiers in the September after a World Cup.

It’s fair to say, Northern Ireland’s first experience of this competition hasn’t been a good one. Relegation is a setback, but not a disaster. We can recover from this. The ultimate goal is Euro 2020.

The main positives have been new players being able to be brought into the team. Hopefully, we’ve used up all our bad luck. We lost four games and didn’t deserve to lose any of them. Keep performing like this, and we will get our rewards.

The Finals will be held in Portugal. I doubt i’ll be going as the only direct flights to Portugal from Northern Ireland is to Faro, nowhere near the two host cities.

If UEFA want to give this tournament more prestige, why not have a Finals tournament for Leagues B, C and D with a trophy on offer? I doubt Sweden, Denmark, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Ukraine would turn their noses up at hosting and/or winning an international competition.

Attention now turns to the Euro 2020 draw in Dublin on December 3rd. From Pot 1, England would be a very handy trip (Remember, from March 2019, we’ll be able to travel fuck all anywhere because of you know what) but there’s nobody you’d ideally take from a football point of view.

Pot 2, Wales for the trip, but Iceland, Russia and Ukraine look the most beatable.,

Pot 4, Lithuania or Georgia.

Pot 5, Gibraltar, Faroe Islands or Moldova.

Pot 6, if we are in a six team group, all of them should be beaten.

No tournament was always going to make it hard to assess 2018 for Northern Ireland. In terms of PWDL, it was disappointing, but you get the feeling that 2018 will be viewed by how the results in 2019 go.

It appears there is nothing to stop Northern Ireland facing Austria or Bosnia-Herzegovina again. If both of them qualify automatically, we automatically go into the Play-Offs.

Here’s a scenario. Northern Ireland are in a group with Austria or Bosnia-Herzegovina. The team not in a group with Northern Ireland qualify from their group. It’s Matchday 10 and Austria or Bosnia-Herzegovina arrive at Windsor Park needing a draw or a win to secure 2nd place against a Northern Ireland team languishing in 4th or 5th with no chance of 2nd.

Theoretically, Northern Ireland will benefit from losing a match.

This could happen in any group of Euro 2020 with any team that got relegated in the UEFA Nations League.

I think i’ve spotted a flaw in the UEFA Nations League format.

Hopefully, this time next year, we’ll all be celebrating automatic qualification without the need for Play-Offs.

Photo Album


As a mid season slump continued last weekend with a 2-1 defeat at home to Coleraine, Linfield will have been glad to be facing a team they have beaten twice this season by an aggregate of 8-0, but maybe not so glad that they would be facing them at a ground they haven’t won at since the 1960s.

Damage to Drumahoe caused by flooding in the Summer of 2017 meant they will be playing this season at The Brandywell (Soon to be renamed Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium), which meant there would be a new ground for me to visit.

The Brandywell wasn’t a new ground for Linfield, with a flurry of visits between 2005 and 2012. They didn’t bring joy for Linfield, with three draws and two defeats from those five games, though they were awarded a 3-0 win when Derry were thrown out of the Setanta Cup in 2009-2010. If anyone asks, I scored a hat-trick.

Jamie Mulgrew and Robert Garrett started the last time Linfield played at The Brandywell, but only Mulgrew would be doing so in this match, with Garrett dropping down to the bench with Michael O’Connor, Josh Robinson and Stephen Fallon coming into the team.

Joel Cooper was one of those who dropped to the bench, having suffered a dip in form since being kicked out of the game at The Oval a few weeks back. Purely coincidental.

O’Connor missed last week’s game against Coleraine due to suspension, in farcical circumstances due to the club having to flag it up. We might have disadvantaged ourselves against Coleraine, but it would have bitten us in the arse later down the line, so honesty was the best policy.

Linfield were almost punished again for a poor refereeing performance thee months later.

Pre-match arrangements meant meeting at Drumahoe Park and Ride, just past Drumahoe as you drive into Derry City Centre.

A 1pm kick-off wasn’t surprising, but if it was a 3pm kick-off, I would have headed up early and spent some time in the City Centre.

Popping to a local shop to get some lunch meant that I didn’t get a chance to have a nosey around the ground, which stands abandoned. Maybe next time, if there is a next time.

Linfield struggled in their first visits to Drumahoe, losing their first two visits and drawing their third, which was almost costly in the title race in 2004. Since then, they’ve been unbeaten there.

I had visited Drumahoe three times, all of which were tricky games for Linfield, a 1-1 draw in 2014, a 1-0 win in 2015, and a 2-0 win in 2017 which sounds a lot more comfortable than it was.

Those with a sense of humour will have noticed that Linfield were lining up at The Brandywell wearing red and white, in a game that had a slow start, the first real attacking moment of note coming when Chris Casement found space down the right, but Andrew Waterworth couldn’t get on the end of his cross.

A few minutes later, a quick Institute counter attack saw Michael McCrudden fire home after a shot was saved by Roy Carroll.

The goal was timed at 13 minutes. It was the fifth successive Saturday that Linfield had gone 1-0 down. Four of those were in the first twenty minutes. I keep saying it, it’s a bad habit to get into, and we don’t appear to be getting out of it. We won’t come from behind every time we go 1-0 down, the last four weeks have shown this.

This week was different, the response from Linfield was more positive. They actually looked like scoring in response.

Jordan Stewart and Andrew Waterworth both had shots saved as Linfield searched for an equaliser.

It wasn’t all one way traffic, as Michael McCrudden curled an effort just wide. For a moment, it looked in from where I was.

It was already tough enough coming from 1-0 down, we really could have done without going 2-0 down.

Crosses were coming in quicker, not giving Institute a chance to defend it properly, and second balls were being picked up, usually by Jamie Mulgrew.

One of those saw a goalbound shot which was denied by a world class save, before a run was halted by a foul on the edge of the penalty area.

Chris Casement and Niall Quinn were around the ball, but it was set up perfectly for Quinn. It wasn’t a clean strike, but it was enough for the ball to go into the back of the net for 1-1.

Importantly, it meant that unlike the previous four Saturdays, Linfield had remedied the 0-1 deficit in the first-half.

They almost went in at half-time in front. They had enough chances, with a Kirk Millar header from the byline being unable to be finished, while Michael O’Connor headed just wide.

In the early minutes of the second-half, Andrew Waterworth finished from close range, only to be denied by an offside flag to little progress.

There was a roar from Linfield’s fans, to urge their team on, but that soon changed to a goal roar, as the Referee overruled the Linesman and awarded the goal. TV footage revealed this to be the correct decision as the ball hit an Institute defender last.

Andrew Waterworth had a shot deflected over while Kirk Millar had an overhead kick saved as Linfield searched for a third goal that would surely secure the points.

It was Millar who got that goal when he headed home from close range to make it 3-1.

Millar was then replaced by Joel Cooper, who went straight on a run which set up a shot for Jordan Stewart, as he looked to recover his form to get back into the starting eleven.

Jamie Mulgrew fires just wide as Linfield searched for a fourth goal.

Robert Garrett then came on for Stephen Fallon who was superb, usually making himself available for a pass, or making things happen when he got the ball.

One final sub for the closing minutes, as Matthew Clarke came on for Jordan Stewart to see out the game.

As the final minutes approached, Andrew Waterworth was played in by Michael O’Connor to make it 4-1. It’s a pity the goal didn’t come before the third sub, as a 4-1 scoreline could have given Daniel Reynolds or Brandon Doyle some gametime.

One advantage of the 1pm kick-off was that as Linfield fans were leaving The Brandywell, other games were just about to kick-off.

The fixture list was kind to Linfield in terms of other games, as there were two games between clubs in the Top Six. Linfield had the points in the bag, and would be able to sit with their feet up.

As it turned out, Crusaders beat Glenavon while Ballymena United beat Cliftonville.

That means Linfield leapfrog Glenavon at the top, though Glenavon have a game in hand. Ballymena United play twice before Linfield play again, and two wins will send them top.

Those games are against Glentoran and Newry City. I’d be surprised if they weren’t.

Linfield are now eight points clear of Cliftonville. A win next Saturday against them, will make that eleven, and we’d be almost out of sight in relation to them.

One result that didn’t happen today was Bohemian v East Fife in the Scottish Challenge Cup, which has been postponed indefinitely due to scheduling conflicts. What an absolute farce.

Surely the Scottish FA could have had something in place for scheduling a Quarter-Final involving an Irish team. It also craps over East Fife fans who will have to plan travel arrangements to Dublin. At some point in time.

Talking of farces, we move onto the NIFL Cup.

You may remember last season when I spent two months talking about how the Semi-Final postponements dragging on was affecting Linfield.

Due to Portadown’s Quarter-Final (against Linfield) being postponed, the Semi-Finals have been put back a week to December 11th.

Portadown or Linfield have been drawn away to Cliftonville or Dungannon Swifts.

That could mean Linfield fans having to get tickets and buses to Solitude arranged at seven days notice. That will be fun.

One positive if that situation did arise would be that Linfield have a home game sandwiched inbetween.

One thing that is guaranteed will be that Linfield will play Cliftonville next Saturday.

We’ll have to be up for this, and be smart. They’ll try to bully us, and we’ll have to stand up for ourselves and not react. A strong ref would be a good start. A repeat of the performance at Seaview in August would be even better.

Photo Album

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 16.11.2018

1. Jade Bird – Love Has All Been Done Before
2. Johnny Marr – Spiral Cities
3. Editors – Cold
4. Razorlight – America
5. The Strypes – Get Into It

This Monday, sees International Men’s Day. So, as is tradition, here’s a series of musical charts. If you’re celebrating, that’s cool. If it’s just another day for you, that’s cool. Just don’t be a self-hating dick fishing for likes on Social Media about it.


1. Prince – Gold
2. David Bowie – Let’s Dance
3. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – AKA … What A Life
4. Falco – Rock Me Amadeus
5. Kyle Falconer – Family Tree


1. The Killers – The Man
2. T-Rex – 20th Century Boy
3. Aneka – Japanese Boy
4. Andrew Gold – Lonely Boy
5. Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy


1. Europe – The Final Countdown
2. Duran Duran – Ordinary World
3. A-Ha – Take On Me
4. U2 – The Fly
5. Queen – I Want It All


1. Bat For Lashes – Daniel
2. Toni Basil – Mickey
3. Oasis – Little James
4. Sister Sledge – Frankie
5. Fine Young Cannibals – Johnny Come Home


Ryan Giggs is the cover star of Manchester United’s official magazine as United return to European football after a Winter break with a European Cup Quarter-Final against Monaco.

Cover star Giggs gets a four page profile, who reveals that he would be surprised if United don’t get past Monaco, despite describing Monaco as a good team.

Also getting profiled in this magazine is Roy Keane, as he aims to come back from a serious injury, one that would keep him out for the rest of the 97/98 season.

Monaco get a three page profile, looking at some of their key players which includes future United star Fabian Barthez.

Paul Parker gets interviewed as he looks to find himself a new club, trying to avoid being on the footballing scrapheap at the age of 33. He was most recently training with Sunderland.

There is also a review of United’s matches in January 1998.

The magazine ends with a Q and A with Andy Cole, who declares that Sean Connery is the only James Bond.


Struggling for form after an early season change of manager will have seen Linfield fans know what Coleraine’s plight was from 2015, but very little sympathy, as they looked to get back on the road to recovery after a bumpy run of form.

Despite Coleraine’s struggles since the appointment of Rodney McAree, Coleraine were approaching a year unbeaten away from home in the League. The last team to beat them away from home? Linfield fifty one weeks previously.

Regardless of the result, Linfield would be the last team to beat Coleraine away from home, but would the date be updated?

For the first time this season that numerous players injured, with Michael O’Connor and Andrew Mitchell joining Daniel Kearns on the injured list, presenting a first League start for Jordan Stewart.

With Kearns out until January (according to Liam Beckett on Radio Ulster), it presented an opportunity for Stewart to have an extended run in the team.

Linfield had some good pressure on Coleraine’s goal in the opening minutes of the game, straight on the attack and getting Joel Cooper on the ball as much as possible. Coleraine’s defending was far from assured, with a series of sloppy passes continuing Linfield’s attacks.

One of those sloppy passes saw Stephen Lowry be lucky to escape a yellow card for a foul on Jamie Mulgrew while stretching to try and retrieve a misplaced pass.

Coleraine recovered and started to have chances of their own. The best one came when a headed clearance fell perfectly for Aaron Burns, who surprisingly fired over when free inside the penalty area.

Within minutes, Coleraine fans were celebrating a goal, but erroneously, as Eoin Bradley hit the side netting, causing some Coleraine fans to prematurely celebrate due to their angle in the North Stand.

A couple of minutes later, Coleraine fans were celebrating for real when Darren McCauley ran down the left hand side and his cross was diverted into his own net by Matthew Clarke, trying to get to the ball before Eoin Bradley.

Nobody could say that the goal wasn’t coming.

Coleraine’s domination continued to the point that Linfield were glad to be going in at half-time only 1-0 down.

It was a familiar scoreline for Linfield fans, as this was the forth successive League game that Linfield went in at half-time 1-0 down.

The previous three games resulting in a mixed bag for Linfield – one win, one draw and one defeat.

Even if this game was recovered, it’s still a bad habit to get into, as I have been saying the last few weeks.

Curiously, Coleraine’s goal came at the same time Warrenpoint went 1-0 up last Saturday, and just as Coleraine scored, Warrenpoint went 1-0 up away to Glenavon.

Glenavon being in the same situation was only a consolation for Linfield fans. It wasn’t Glenavon pulling away that is the main worry, it’s the possibility of teams below them catching up with them.

Jordan Stewart had Linfield’s first chance of the second-half but his deflected shot was easily saved by Chris Johns.

Roy Carroll was forced into a save after Eoin Bradley managed to get space in the penalty area.

A bit of pinball after a set piece saw the ball fall to Joel Cooper but his low shot was blocked by a Coleraine defender when he looked set to score.

It was the first time in the half that Coleraine had a moment of worry.

Before you could say that this chance could lift Linfield in their bid to get an equaliser, they were 2-0 down as a quick Coleraine counter-attack saw Kirk Millaw put the ball into his net when trying to get to the ball before Eoin Bradley.

Trying to stop Bradley from scoring would have been Linfield’s intention pre-match. Putting it into their own net instead of him would not have been their intention.

There was still time for Linfield to retrieve the game, but they hadn’t looked like scoring beforehand, now they would have to step it up and score at least two.

Linfield needed a fresh injection from the bench, but there were no obvious options. Two attacking players being injured had decimated the attacking options.

Stephen Fallon the only experienced attacking player on the bench, and he was brought on for Matthew Clarke.

Despite leaving Linfield in the Summer, Stephen Lowry almost added to his assist statistics when a misplaced backpass fell to Andrew Waterworth, who was fouled by Johns but a free-kick to Coleraine was awarded. We would have missed it anyway.

Brandon Doyle and Daniel Reynolds, the two attackers on the bench, but with less than a handful of appearances for Linfield between them were brought on for Jordan Stewart and Joel Cooper. There was nothing to lose.

With a few minutes remaining, Linfield pulled a goal back. Of course, it was an own goal, the third of the game, and it gave Linfield a glimpse of hope.

Belatedly, Linfield began to start playing and attacking Coleraine, sensing that they could repeat their feat from January when they secured an unlikely draw with two late goals.

As injury time approached, it looked set up for it to happen as Linfield had a free-kick just outside the penalty area, but Niall Quinn fired over. Even though injury time remained, you felt that Linfield’s chance had gone.

Of that injury time, there was only three minutes, which was quite remarkable considering how much time Coleraine took at dead ball situations.

At a stoppage as the third of those minutes approached, Roy Carroll adopted the sleeping position to protest at the referee, suggesting that it was taking so long it was almost time for bed. It really wasn’t the time for banter.

Linfield didn’t really themselves by trying to get the game restarted quickly, or by highlighting it to the referee to put pressure on Coleraine players to restart the game. It was a familiar story the entire game, as Linfield showed very little urgency throughout.

There would still be one more chance. Like last week, Kirk Millar had the ball in a wide position deep into injury time. However, his cross was caught by the keeper instead of being headed home.

Coleraine held on for a deserved win. Linfield were second best all afternoon, and showed no urgency to attack. They made it too easy for Coleraine.

When a Linfield player had the ball, there were numerous Coleraine players around him. When a Coleraine player had the ball, they had the freedom of Windsor Park.

It was the forth successive game that Linfield went 1-0 down. It’s a bad habit that needs eradicated as soon as possible. There might have comebacks against Dungannon and Warrenpoint, but there won’t be comebacks every game.

There was no urgency or anybody attacking Coleraine.

Roy Carroll hit a goal kick straight to Andrew Waterworth, and his flick on went straight to Chris Johns. It was all too predictable.

Glenavon eventually drew with Warrenpoint, meaning they are now one point ahead of Linfield with a game in hand. We are in no worse a position than last Friday teatime.

However, it is not upwards we should be looking, we now need to start looking below us as Ballymena United (four points behind with a game in hand), Crusaders (six points behind) and Cliftonville (eight points behind with two games in hand) are now coming up the rear view mirror when they should be an irrelevance.

Luckily for Linfield, the next few matchday sees two games where top six (Ballymena United v Cliftonville and Crusaders v Glenavon) sides meet, making the trip to Institute game must win. It was always must win, regardless of who is playing who.

Over the past few weeks, i’ve commented on how in recent years October and November has been a difficult time for Linfield.

A bad run in 2015 cost us the title. 2016 almost cost us the title. 2017 cost us any chance of having any interest in the title race in 2018.

It is something that will need addressed for November 2019, where there will be five Saturdays.

It would be better to address it for November 2018, where there are still two League games to play in the month.

To give a sense of perspective, Linfield are a point better off than they were at this stage of their last title winning season.

Results and performances recently have been concerning. Another bad result against Institute, and the situation will be upgraded to worrying.

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