This was a match that Linfield had to wait two months to play, and it turned out to be worth the wait.
The postponement would have been a source of frustration for those who turn up at the match in their Stiff Little Fingers t-shirt before heading to the Aul Boys Punk Bank Holiday Weekender.
Originally scheduled for August, this match was postponed due to Linfield’s involvement in European competition. As a result of their inactivity, Linfield have been playing catch-up since August.
With each win, they’ve gradually got closer to the top. If they could win this, the first of three games in hand, they would get within two points of the top of the table, and still have two games in hand.
Mark Stafford and Kirk Millar made Birthday Goals quite trendy in August, so the postponement was frustrating for Daniel Kearns, whose birthday was two days after the original date.
He continued to miss out through injury, but this match represented a first League start for Ross Larkin.
He looked comfortable when he had the ball. It was hard to analyse his defending because he didn’t have any to do, apart from blocking a cross out for a corner.
Just like on Saturday, Linfield attacked The Kop in the first-half, meaning a quick change of seat. I missed the opening seconds of the game, but got in just in time to see Shayne Lavery causing trouble for Warrenpoint’s defence
The pressure continued, Warrenpoint couldn’t get out of their own half.
Even though Linfield have an excellent record against Warrenpoint (Fourteen wins and two draws from sixteen meetings), some of the previous meetings had been dicey.
It was easy to forget that Warrenpoint had drawn two of their previous three visits to Windsor Park. Linfield’s 4-0 win on Warrenpoint’s last visit had some nervy moments at 0-0 and 1-0.
The key was for Linfield to get an early goal, so that Warrenpoint wouldn’t anything to hold on to or defend. There wasn’t long to wait, just 6 minutes in when Stephen Fallon curled home from the edge of the box.
It looked like there were only two players on the pitch as Shayne Lavery had a personal battle with Beerat Turker, with Warrenpoint’s keeper denying Lavery three times.
Lavery was only going to have a frustrating evening for so long, and he eventually got his goal when he finished from a Joel Cooper cross.
A 2-0 lead was key for Linfield. At 1-0, Warrenpoint would have been determined to stay in the game and maybe nick something late on. There was no way they going to score two. Two touched in Linfield’s half was looking ambitious.
Kirk Millar, Ryan McGivern and Matthew Clarke all had efforts denied before Shayne Lavery made it 3-0 on the stroke of half-time after getting in behind Warrenpoint’s defence, beating the keeper to the ball, and then backheeling the ball into the empty net. As you do.
Even I, naturally cautious, knew that the points were in the bag.
The only question, was what would the winning margin be?
This was the third of four midweek games in October, a month that would see them play eight games. It would be understandable if they were to take things easy in the second-half, just as they did against Dungannon Swifts earlier in the month.
Nope, was the answer. Within a few minutes, Shayne Lavery cut in from the left and fired home to complete his hat-trick, a bit longer than it took to complete against Glenavon earlier in the season.
You knew it was going in as soon as he set himself up to shoot.
His frustration from earlier in the evening was now gone, although he was probably rueing the double hat-trick that got away.
Job done for the night, Lavery and Jamie Mulgrew were able to put their feet up, with Matthew Shevlin and Jordan Stewart coming on for some much needed minutes.
It was then 5-0 when Joel Cooper headed home, and then 6-0 from Cooper again. Now he wanted a hat-trick.
There was still time for some more saves from Beerat Turket, with Matthew Shevlin being the man frustrated.
By this stage, Trai Hume was now brought on as a substitute for Ross Larkin, who had a slight injury.
It was definitely ok to bring Hume on, there would be no objections from the County Antrim FA.
Just before the end, Cooper made it 7-0 to complete his hat-trick. It was the first time i’d ever been to a match where two players scored a hat-trick, and both of them stayed on the pitch after the final whistle for the obligatory photo holding a matchball in one hand holding three fingers with the other.