LINFIELD 2-0 GLENAVON 21.11.2020

Having been spoilt by seven and eight goals on Glenavon’s last two visits to Windsor Park, it was just the two for Linfield fans to cheer in this match.

However, it was more than Glenavon got, which is the aim of the game, as Linfield continued their winning start to the Irish League season.

It had been three weeks since Linfield’s last game, and the last time their fans will have had the chance to see them in League action.

Since then, they’ve recorded wins at Portadown and Coleraine. The sense of frustration at crowd restrictions being felt especially in these games as

Linfield scored vital second goals at ends where their fans traditionally assemble. Just imagine what the scenes would have been like. 

Glenavon had a mixed start to the season, with just one win from their opening five games, but also only one defeat, and an unbeaten run of four games.

As well as an unbeaten run, Glenavon were hoping that omens would be on their side, as the last time 21st November fell on a Saturday, in 2015, Glenavon beat Linfield 3-2.

Of the four players who scored in that match, two of them were on the bench for Linfield, Daniel Kearns who opened the scoring for Glenavon that day and Jamie Mulgrew, back in the matchday squad after injury.

Kirk Millar, who made it 2-2 for Linfield that day was in the starting eleven, alongside Navid Nasseri who came in for Matthew Clarke in Linfield’s only change from the previous week’s game at Coleraine.

The other scorer that day? Joel Cooper, who left Linfield this summer for Oxford United.

There was a change in pre-match arrangements with both teams entering the field from makeshift dressing rooms in Corporate Areas as opposed to warming up in their kits and then getting ready to start the game.

The Referee signalled for both teams to change ends, with Linfield unusually attacking the Railway End in the first-half.

Usually, i’d be muttering under my breath and then making a quick dash to get a new seat where the South Stand and Railway Stands meet. Still getting used to being in the same seat all match.

It was Glenavon who had the first attempt on goal when a free-kick from Michael O’Connor (not that one) went just wide.

Navid Nasseri had Linfield’s first real opportunity when he stretched to a cross that was easily held by Jonathan Tuffey. If he was able to make full contact, he would have scored.

It had been a slow start from Linfield, but they were now starting to find a groove, beginning to have a lot of pressure, with Andrew Waterworth.

That pressure was rewarded when Stephen Fallon got in behind Glenavon’s defence unnoticed, and lifted the ball over Jonathan Tuffey. Windsor Park waited to see if the ball would drop down into the net, and then celebrated when it did.

Fallon had put Linfield 1-0 during that famous 8-1 win in January, albeit a lot earlier in the day. Hopes for a repeat were ambitious, but Linfield had the lead.

That was almost undone within a minute whenever a defensive mix-up gave Conor McCloskey a clear sight of goal, but was denied by a superb save from Chris Johns.

Christy Manzinga and Shayne Lavery were introduced for Waterworth and Nasseri as Linfield chased a second goal, having been denied earlier in the second-half when Jimmy Callacher had a header cleared off the line.

Manzinga looked decent when he got the ball and his forward movements were causing worry for Glenavon. However, he was soon causing worry for his own team.

A kicked aimed at a Glenavon player ended up making (small) contact with his own player. Despite that lucky escape, he followed up it by punching a Glenavon player in the knee, immediately being summoned to the Referee.

Myself and those around me were expecting a red card, myself and those around me were surprised and relieved to only see a yellow.

Discipline is starting to become a worry. That would have been Linfield’s fifth red card of the season. Disadvantaging ourselves within games and then future games with player unavailability.

I didn’t see it at the time, but Manzinga was stood on by his opponent. Still no excuse though. We need to be better than that.

Manzinga was soon having a more positive influence on the game when his header was dropped by Jonathan Tuffey, giving Shayne Lavery enough of a sniff to poke the ball home from close range to make it 2-0 and giving Linfield some breathing space.

In his post-match interview, Gary Hamilton bemoaned the non red card for Manzinga changed the game. It didn’t really. If he did go off, Linfield would have ground out a 1-0 win. It wouldn’t have been fun to watch.

Also, his goalkeeper made a shocking mistake for what should have been a basic save.

All Linfield had to do to get three points was to not do anything stupid in their own third. Even when they did just after going 1-0 up, Chris Johns was there to make a fantastic save. That second goal gave Linfield space to breathe for the final stages of the game.

Just before the goal, Jamie Mulgrew was introduced as a substitute and appeared to have an instant impact without doing anything.

If Glenavon were annoyed about Manzinga setting up a goal, they were almost annoyed by him scoring a third for Linfield, but a poor touch when put through denied him that opportunity.

As the teams left the pitch, the latest scores from the other games (on a reduced fixture list due to Covid precautions) were read out with Larne being held at home by Cliftonville.

However, a 95th minute winner would secure the points for Larne as Linfield fans were leaving Windsor Park, meaning that a win in their game in hand would see them go four points clear instead of six.

You can always rely on Cliftonville to be useless when Linfield need them to get a result.

An enjoyable Saturday at the football, but it could be the last Saturday at the football for a while as the next two weekends will see games be played behind closed doors.

Don’t worry if you can’t get to a game, you can fill your Saturday afternoon by queuing up to get into Primark, or by walking through Belfast City Centre in a group of six and spread yourself across the whole footpath. All perfectly safe.

How ironic, the people who like to moralise about the behaviour of football fans are causing football fans to be punished through their behaviour.

As a result of this, the start date of the NI Championship has been put back.

Talking of the NI Championship, Harland and Wolff Welders are posting progress photos of their new ground. I’m excited to visit it in 2021. To be honest, i’m just excited to visit any ground that isn’t Windsor Park.

That is the worst thing about Northern Ireland’s defeat to Slovakia. Football would have had the DUP by the balls if Northern Ireland had won that match. Want a free ticket for Dublin or Bilbao? Then work for it.

Despite that result, i’m still planning to take in group games in Dublin.

Unfortunately, it will be Poland v Slovakia and Slovakia v Sweden that i’ll be trying to get a ticket for.In my opinion, Euro 2021 is still up in the air. If a vaccine can be rolled out by April, it will go ahead.

I wouldn’t be surprised of it got rolled out first in the 24 competing countries and the 3 non qualifying hosts. And then Pfizer end up becoming Champions League sponsors for the next ten years.

To still be waiting for a first (outright) win under Ian Baraclough is disappointing, but it’s important to realise that the recruitment process for a new Manager was begun with Qatar 2022 and Euro 2024 in mind.

Relegation from the UEFA Nations League was disappointing. It’s a competition that is a waste of time, but Northern Ireland have to be wise to the game and play it to our advantage.

Austria finished 2nd in Northern Ireland’s group in 2018-2019, and got rewarded with a generous qualifying group for Euro 2020 (now Euro 2021) and a generous group for that tournament. That could easily have been us.

The draw for the European Qualifiers of Qatar 2022 will be made in a few weeks, and Northern Ireland will be in Pot 3.

There’s no weak teams in Pot 1, unsurprisingly. If I had to choose one, maybe Denmark.

Pot 2 has a few teams that could be beaten. I’d go with Romania. Northern Ireland held their own against them in the Nations League.

I’m glad that Northern Ireland drew at home to Romania. It would have been a sickner to be relegated because Norway forfeited a match or because we ballsed up a lead in Vienna.

Pot 4, Georgia or Belarus. Pot 5, Andorra. Pot 6, San Marino.

There’s no point in looking at the best draw for trips with still no guaranteed date for full stadiums. In an ideal world, England, Wales and/or Lithuania would be tempting.

Finally, we sign off with another shambles, with the County Antrim Shield slotted in to take place at Seaview in an empty stadium in early December.

Surely this game could have been put back to March or April when there is a chance of getting more fans into a ground?

If Linfield were involved in this match, i’d be absolutely fuming about these arrangements.

Especially Glentoran, who had three matches to make up in the League.

The first of those was against Linfield in the League three days after this.

You can read about that in the next blogpost.

Photo Album

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One thought on “LINFIELD 2-0 GLENAVON 21.11.2020

  1. Pingback: 2020 IN PICTURES – NOVEMBER/DECEMBER (SO FAR …..) | Analogue Boy In A Digital World

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