With three matches postponed due to European involvement and international call-ups, Linfield’s season got off to a false start, hoping that a run of wins in September would kickstart their season.
Glenavon would say that their season also got off to a false start and were hoping that a run of September wind would kickstart their season.
Their circumstances were different to Linfield’s, as it was a series of dropped points and one postponement due to the Scottish Challenge Cup (Ironically, because Linfield declined to take part) have seen them be closer to the Relegation Zone than the top of the League, which is why they were looking for a (late) September run of form to kickstart their season.
They got one of those wins as a starting point, last Saturday against Ballymena United. A bit of a shock to this Observer, as I had expected Ballymena to leave Mourneview Park with three points.
Linfield had two changes to their starting eleven from their last outing, with Jamie Mulgrew coming in for Andrew Waterworth as Linfield reverted to a 4-3-3/4-5-1.
That meant Ryan McGivern dropped to the bench to make way for Matthew Clarke, with Niall Quinn moving to right-back.
To be honest, I wasn’t too sure about that as i’m not a fan of playing left footed players at Right-Back, Andrew Mitchell would have been a better option to slot in there instead of Clarke.
As it turned out, Glenavon barely got a chance to attack Quinn. Anyway, he will argue that he’s not too bad on his right, having used it to open the score at Carrick on Monday night.
Linfield’s first two games upon return from Europe were 1-0 wins. We wanted more goals. Be careful what you wish for, we got five at Ballinamallard, but at the cost of four goals conceded at the other end. Linfield fans were waiting for their side to get the balance just perfect.
Linfield were straight on the attack and were rewarded on three minutes when Shayne Lavery poked home from twelve yards after a cross from Joel Cooper.
There was an element of luck to the goal as the ball came to Cooper after his pass to Matthew Clarke was intercepted. From where I was sat, it looked like Clarke was offside, but the ball never got to him. Cooper made the most of his second chance.
It was Linfield’s first goal against Glenavon at Windsor Park since Andrew Waterworth scored a pointless consolation goal with the last kick of a 3-2 defeat in January 2018. Curiously, Linfield went 1-0 up after 3 minutes that day.
If Glenavon thought Linfield were going to take it easy, they were wrong, Shayne Lavery letting Glenavon defenders know they were in for a torrid afternoon by charging down a clearance, but not getting the luck his tenacity deserved as the ball went out for a goal kick.
Soon after, Niall Quinn went just wide with his right foot, trying to recreate his goal against Carrick.
It was clear from the opening minutes that Linfield were up for this, Bastien Hery running things in midfield, every time he got the ball, he was spoilt for choice for attacking options. They just needed a second goal to truly take advantage of their superiority.
They almost got it when Joel Cooper had a header saved by Jonathan Tuffey, and then hit the woodwork with the rebound.
There wasn’t long to wait for Linfield, as Bastien Hery played Kirk Millar in, who waited for Shayne Lavery to amend his run to be on the end of a cross. Lavery’s shot was scuffed, but it went in. If you make the run and aim for goal, you make your own luck.
Hery then got an inadvertent assist when his shot was blocked, but fell perfectly to Shayne Lavery to finish to make it 3-0, a hat-trick inside the opening 14 minutes, just like Andrew Waterworth against Cliftonville in 2017. Any excuse to bring up that match.
Lavery and Hery will get all the headlines from this game, but the contribution of Millar and Cooper shouldn’t go unnoticed. Everytime Hery, Fallon or Mulgrew got the ball, Millar and Cooper were usually in space, looking for the ball. When they got it, they were rarely wasteful with it.
Lavery then had a spectacular effort go just wide as Linfield looked to make it 4-0.
In the interest of balance, it should be noted that Glenavon did have an attempt on goal, Andrew Mitchell having a shot saved from a wide angle.
A big save, as there still would have been time for a Glenavon comeback at 3-1, you don’t want to give the opposition any encouragement.
That was it as far as Glenavon were concerned as an attacking threat.
The next goal came for Linfield, when Bastien Hery fired home from the edge of the box with his right foot after a pass from Matthew Clarke. Throughout the attack, it always looked like Linfield had an extra man available for a pass.
Just before that, Stephen Fallon had a shot well saved, in a game where he had a silent influence.
Every time a Glenavon player had the ball, their second touch was …… they didn’t get a second touch as they were dispossessed by Fallon.
Jack O’Mahony had a shot tipped over as Glenavon looked to launch an unlikely comeback. It was never going to happen.
Joel Cooper made it 5-0 just afterwards just to be sure. Yep, i’m being that guy.
It wouldn’t be a Linfield goalfest without Jimmy Callacher getting involved, and he obliged to make it 6-0, his first goal at Windsor Park since Boxing Day, after Glenavon couldn’t clear the ball after a Shayne Lavery header was cleared off the line.
Just like the other goals, there were always options for Linfield when the ball came into the box.
If Callacher missed the header, Kirk Millar would have scored. If he hit the post, Mark Stafford would have scored the rebound.
With the points in the bag, David Healy rested some players, bringing on Andrew Waterworth, Daniel Reynolds and Matthew Shevlin.
Stephen Fallon hit the bar before Andrew Waterworth made it 7-0, heading home from a Kirk Millar cross.
Again, there were more attacking options for Linfield. If Waterworth didn’t get the header, Matthew Shevlin would have scored.
The referee took mercy on Glenavon by only playing five seconds of injury time.
Results elsewhere mean that Linfield have now moved up to 4th.
It was always going to take a while to climb the table, but with teams above us playing each other over coming weeks, Linfield knew if they kept winning, ground would be made up.
When Linfield face Cliftonville, they knew they would end the day no higher than 9th even if they won. Each matchday, Linfield have climbed, 9th to 8th to 5th to 4th.
If results go their way next weekend, they could be 2nd. They’ll be at least 3rd if they get three points on Friday night.
That match, is away to Crusaders, live on BBC Two. It’s a match that has 0-0 written all over it to be honest, after both teams went goal crazy on Saturday.
The difference is, Crusaders aren’t keeping them out at the other end, conceding eight goals in their last three League matches, against Glenavon, Coleraine and Glentoran.
Linfield can exploit that. There is nothing to feat. Let them worry about us, and we have a lot that will worry them.
A curious fact about this game, was that I saw a cat loitering at the South Stand entrance as I entered the ground. The only time I’ve seen a cat at a Linfield match was when one ran onto the pitch during the game at Warrenpoint last season.
I’ve not suggesting there’s a correlation between cats in the ground and heavy wins, but feel free to bring a cat to Seaview to test the theory out.
As an addendum to the Carrick blog, I’ve actually read up on the European Conference League. It sounds shit to be honest.
Talking of shit competitions, the UEFA Nations League has been restructured, meaning Northern Ireland are in League B instead of League C. It’s still a reward for mediocrity.
Onto Seaview, for a game that won’t make or break Linfield’s season, but it will be nice to issue a statement of intent early on.