- Kasabian – Alygatyr
- Griff – One Night
- Tears For Fears – Tipping Point
- Dermot Kennedy – Better Days
- Lonelady – There Is No Logic
It wasn’t quite must win, but it was definitely do not lose, which Linfield managed on their trip to Larne in front of Sky Sports cameras in a game where both sides suffered A Case Of The Ex.
Of course, if they could win, it would have been quite the statement, pulling further clear of Larne (five points) and putting doubts in their title challenge, as there would be with back to back defeats against the two main challengers as the table stands.
Cliftonville’s game against Ballymena United would be a part of the story of this game, albeit, not a major part of the story.
Surprisingly, Cliftonville lost 1-0, meaning that Larne and Linfield wouldn’t be looking to keep in touch with them, but three points would see them overtake (in Linfield’s case) or cut the gap to one point (in Larne’s case)
Visits to Inver Park hadn’t been kind to Linfield since Larne were promoted to the Top Flight in 2019, with three defeats and a draw.
In what will be a busy Winter Schedule, the rescheduling of this game for TV coverage meant Linfield had a six day gap between games, which will feel luxurious in a few weeks time.
That allowed some players who might have been rested if this was played on a Saturday a chance to start, such as Matt Green, who almost put Linfield ahead after charging down a clearance from former Linfield keeper Rohan Ferguson, who was relieved to see it go behind the goal.
Ferguson was involved in the main talking point of the first-half when he took down Christy Manzinga in the full-back position as he raced on to a through ball. I had thought it was a yellow card when watching it in the stadium.
Looking back (I recorded the game on Sky Plus), it could be argued he was lucky to get away with a yellow. If it was a full-back making that tackle, it could easily have been a different outcome.
Larne’s attacks usually resulted in shots going wide or over, while Linfield weren’t even getting that far in a half where both defences were on top.
Linfield started the second-half well, having a lot of possession in Larne’s final third, but not being able to make the most of it in terms of creating a clear goalscoring opportunity;
It was Larne who had the first clear goalscoring oppotunity of the second-half when Andy Scott got in behind Linfield’s defence, cutting in from a wide position to fire a shot that was easily saved by Chris Johns. He really should have scored.
It was another excellent performance from Johns who has vastly improved after a difficult debut season at Windsor Park, bringing a calmness to the defence when needed.
Although, it would help if defenders would stop passing it back to him on his weaker right foot though.
Jordan Stewart and Niall Quinn were brought on as Linfield looked to take the lead.
However, that honour fell to Larne when Navid Nasseri was played in by David McDaid, and rounded Johns to fire it into the empty net to give Larne a lead on 79 minutes in a game that looked destined to finish 0-0.
It might have felt harsh on Linfield, but the truth was that they hadn’t had an attack of note.
The goal sparked Linfield into life, they had no choice but to. Jimmy Callacher had a header go wide from a set piece.
Billy Chadwick and Martin Donnelly then came on for Linfield, Linfield hoping he could have the same impact that Nasseri, the player who went the opposite way in that Summer swap deal.
With just three minutes remaining, Donnelly had an impact, when his free-kick was headed home.
As he was getting ready to take the free-kick, I was crossing my fingers that it would be Jimmy Callacher on the end of it.
Turns out, it was Jordan Stewart who got his head on it to make it 1-1, not someone you would have down for their aerial prowess, not that the Linfield fans who were celebrating cared.
A late equaliser away to Larne, having reviewed the tapes, was being celebrated like the winner in the European Cup Final,
Having worked their way back to getting a draw, the main thing was now not to lose this game. Linfield were able to see off any attacks from Larne, but unfortunately not to have on in injury time that they could make count.
The match finished 1-1. Not ideal when a win could have done so much damage to rivals at the top of the table.
But when you’re 1-0 down with a couple of minutes to go and not playing well, you’ll take it.
It is easy to forget, Linfield ended this Matchday one point closer to Cliftonville at the top of the table, only now trailing them by one point, nibbling away at their lead.
We don’t need to take a big bite of their lead, just a little nibble will do, a few of those will see Linfield overtake them.
Remember, we’re not yet at the point where everybody is scheduled to have played each other yet.
What it means for the table is that Linfield and Larne have Coleraine standing between them, as part of four clubs divided by three points.
Onto Saturday, and Linfield face Dungannon Swifts at home. You’d like to think we’d get three points, ideally stress-free, and put the pressure on the teams around us.
It is important to note that Crusaders will only be one point off the top of the table if their win their games in hand, so they have to be included in the title conversation.
Ticket details were announced for Northern Ireland v Lithuania. £40. It cost £30 to go to Lithuania in 2019. Just a bit of a cost barometer.
I’ll give this one a miss but keep an eye out for competitions on Social Media, which I imagine will now be plentiful.
I was going to give this campaign a miss and then renew for Euro 2024, but this pricing structure has made the decision for me.
Ian Baraclough has been given a new contract up to the end of Euro 2024. That is what we should be aiming for so might as well keep continuity going into it.
It was unfortunate that the Pot 2 team in our group was so strong.
Switzerland weren’t worried about Northern Ireland, they are trying to catch and overtake Italy above them.
If we were in Germany or Denmark’s group, where the Pot 1 team runs away with it and then the teams below them fight it out in a Mini League for 2nd, it could have been so much different, but we never stood a chance against Switzerland and Italy.
Finally, Linfield’s match against Ballymena, postponed twice due to International Call-Ups and then the NIFL Cup taking priority in the calendar will be played on 21st December.
That is handy for me, as I thought it was going to be played on Tuesday 16th November when I am in Brighton.
I might be going to an OMD concert that night, it would have made it hard to pay attention if i’m keeping an eye out for the Linfield score.
It wasn’t a classic visit to Cavehill, but it was great to be back up Cavehill after a three month absence.
Whenever the football season is on and i’m going to a match that afternoon, I don’t usually bother with a hillwalk or a cycle, as I usually relax and recover and get comfy in the house. It’s for my own good.
However, this wasn’t the first football free Saturday since July.
Well, the two football free Saturdays I had in August were both wet. Torrential wet. I’m not going walking in the rain.
Especially up Cavehill, i’ve done that before and it’s not nice.
Eventually, at the start of October, I had a free Saturday morning, so I headed over to Cavehill and got a bit of a shock when the Car Park at Innisfayle Park was bordered off for work to be done on it.
Even better, I had driven through the gates and got there, was surrounded by cars parked on double yellow lines, meaning I was having to do a Three Point Turn in the tightest of spots.
It was an utter farce, could they not have closed the gates at Innisfayle Park or put the blockade earlier to stop cars making that journey?
I wasn’t the only driver that morning a bit miffed about the situation.
It was even more farcical as I checked Belfast City Council’s social media feeds and there wasn’t a mention of any work taking place at Cavehill.
What made it even worse was that I checked the weather forecast and I knew it was going to rain in mid/late morning, so I got up early to try and get in and out before then.
Now, it was time for Plan B, Cregagh Glen.
If I had known the Car Park was out of use, I would have headed straight to Cregagh Glen, instead of wasting time travelling from South Belfast to North Belfast then to East Belfast when I could have just went from South to East.
Eventually, I walked through Cregagh Glen, and just as I approached Lisnabreeny Hill, it started to rain, so I turned around, thankful for the shelter provided by the outstretched tree branches.
It was an utterly deflating morning.
Fast forward three weeks, and with no Saturday football thanks to Sky, I plotted to head out again.
It was a spectacular sunrise. Unfortunately, I was observing it as I walked to my car rather than from Cavehill as my bed was too comfy.
On the plus side, the sunsets will be getting later over the next few months, so I might actually capture one.
I ended up getting some ok photos, it was a lot brighter on the way down than up.
Having not done this for a while, I was a bit “Out of practice” but that was resolved with a brief sit down at the halfway point.
Despite being dull, it was clear enough for me to observe Windsor Park and Solitude at the same time. It would have been rude not to.
During November, i’ve got a bit of Annual Leave to use up. I’ll be taking a week off in the middle of the month.
The first three days of that week will be a trip to Brighton which should have been a trip to London in July but I decided against it as London’s general Covid attitude is described as a bit “Don’t Give A Shit”.
My flights are to Gatwick, so I just changed the date to when things will be a bit quieter.
During my stay in Brighton, i’m hoping to visit South Downs National Park. Wish me luck with the weather.
The plan for the two remaining days is to go to Blackmountain (Haven’t been for a while) and Colin Glen Forest Park (Haven’t been for a while, especially with my camera)
I get the feeling i’ll be writing a lot more about hillwalks in the Winter of 2021/2022 with football matches being behind closed doors due to another lockdown.
Seriously folks, how hard is it not to be thick as shit?
“Oh but the Government advice is so confusing” – It really isn’t, and if it is, maybe stick to the side of caution.
- Griff – One Night
- Tears For Fears – Tipping Point
- Soft Cell – Bruises On My Illusions
- Duran Duran ft Tove Lo – Give It All Up
- Lonelady – There Is No Logic
Two days after celebrating his sixth anniversary as Linfield manager, David Healy returned to where it all began, as Linfield travelled to Warrenpoint Town.
The scoreline was the same as it was on Matchday 1, but the manner of the result was a lot more convincing than it was that day in October 2015.
There was a bit of pre-match drama, with Jordan Stewart coming in to replace Cameron Palmer. who was originally named in the starting eleven.
Palmer wasn’t the only midfielder missing for Linfield, with Jamie Mulgrew missing due to a visit to the Maternity Ward.
Inside the first minute, Jordan Stewart almost made it an inspired decision to bring him in, getting in behind Warrenpoint’s defence but being unable to take advantage of it.
Unsurprisingly, Linfield were having the ball in Warrenpoint’s half, but not all of it, Warrenpoint were having their own attacks which were easily snuffed out by Linfield.
Thankfully, there wasn’t long to wait for a Linfield goal, coming after a run from Christy Manzinga, who was brought down by a Warrenpoint player who couldn’t keep up with him.
There was a brief moment where I was trying to work out who would take it. Andrew Waterworth and Shayne Lavery are now gone, Jordan Stewart did take them until he missed one against Crusaders.
I couldn’t think of a penalty that Linfield had got this season, until I remembered that they got one in Europe that was taken by Chris Shields, who stepped up again to put Linfield 1-0 up.
Two out of two from the spot for him. Might as well enjoy that stat while it lasts.
Linfield should have been warned from their visit to Milltown last season where they led 1-0 before losing 2-1.
At least they were still defending a perfect record at Milltown in front of a paying crowd.
Kirk Millar had a shot fired over before a stray pass played him through, giving him a chance to make it 2-0.
Even though he isn’t a striker, there was never going to be a doubt about the outcome, slotting him to put Linfield 2-0 up.
Soon afterwards, Christy Manzinga gave us his obligatory goal to make it 3-0. He has scored in every League game he has played in, apart from one, the one that he as sent-off in.
Last Saturday’s match against Carrick Rangers was the 40th time that Linfield had scored four or more in a League game under David Healy. This looked like it was set to be Number 41, especially as Warrenpoint Town shared an unwanted record with Dungannon Swifts as the side who have suffered most under David Healy, with Linfield scoring four or more on seven occasions against them.
Mike Newberry had a shot blocked on the line as Linfield searched for that fourth goal, but three was enough for a commanding half-time lead.
Milltown wasn’t the only ground that Linfield were winning at, they were also winning at Solitude, sort of, as the 1-1 scoreline between Cliftonville and Larne meant that were going top of the League for the first time this season.
There was nothing Linfield could do about the game at Solitude, they could only help themselves, and they were doing that very well.
Steven Ball looked like he had pulled one back for Warrenpoint early in the second-half, but he hit the side netting.
From where I was, it looked like it was in, but the lack of celebration from Warrenpoint players, one even angrily asking why he wasn’t passed to, it soon became apparent that it was not a goal.
Linfield replied with a header from Mike Newberry that went wide. That was all they offered in the second-half, as the game became a non event, the second successive Saturday where Linfield had the job done in the first-half. We even find something to moan about when we win convincingly.
Unsurprisingly, Linfield took the opportunity to make some substitutions with October being a busy month, with just the seven games instead of eight. More on that later.
Although, they do have the luxury of a six day break after the County Antrim Shield match against Dundela.
As the players left the pitch, Christy Manzinga found himself to be a man in demand, fielding and obliging to various requests from fans for selfies as he head to the Dressing Room.
Elsewhere, Cliftonville beat Larne, meaning that Linfield have jumped up to 2nd, just two points behind Cliftonville and a further two ahead of Larne, who they play next.
A win wouldn’t put Larne out of the title race, but it would be nice to put a bit of distance away from them, no longer part of a sandwich at the top of the table, breathing down Cliftonville’s necks rather than worrying about Larne breathing down their necks.
We are due a win at Inver Park? Right?
Just a reminder that it’s live on Sky Sports if you’re unable to go.
Glentoran and Coleraine drew meaning that Linfield were able to pull clear of both clubs, but not far enough away to discount them from the title race yet.
Elsewhere, it was confirmed that Linfield would be competing in the Unite The Union Cup, facing Coleraine with the prize of a Final against a League Of Ireland side at Lansdowne Road.
Just as in 2019, the scheduling is a bit of a pain in the arse, even if it is a low commitment with a maximum of two games. Plus it means a League trip to Coleraine is postponed. Thankfully, the backlog of League fixtures is manageable at the moment.
If we do end up going to Lansdowne Road, i’d be tempted to try and sneak in another trip to Bray.
Linfield should have been playing Glenavon on the Friday night after playing Coleraine on the Tuesday. Thankfully, that trip to Lurgan has been put back to the Friday.
What it does mean is that my planned trip to Blanchflower Park for November 27th won’t be happening. I think the next possible opportunity will be December 18th. I’ll be hoping for an Irish Cup trip there in January at this rate.
If we do get that draw, hopefully, it goes better than the last time I saw Linfield face Championship opponents in the Irish Cup.
The first game was played yesterday and the ground looks impressive. The honour of the first goal went to Patrick Burns, who had a better day than his older brother Bobby.
Finally, Linfield’s NIFL Cup match against Institute was postponed due to Institute playing an ineligible player in the previous round, being replaced by PSNI. You’re all expecting me to joke that the Peelers planted an ineligible player on them.
It creates a scheduling issue with Linfield not having a free midweek until the date of the Quarter-Finals, three days before Northern Ireland v Lithuania.
I wouldn’t be surprised if it got slotted in to wc November 1st to keep Windsor Park free from usage ahead of those internationals as Linfeld would be away to Ballymena if they get through.
There is a precedent for rescheduling NIFL Cup games, as the Semi-Finals in 2018-2019 were put back a week due to a backlog caused by postponements in previous rounds.
Let’s hope after Tuesday night’s game against Dundela, we’ll be looking to slot in another game somewhere.
- Griff – One Night
- Tears For Fears – Tipping Point
- Lonelady – There Is No Logic
- Paul Simon – Boy In The Bubble
- William Shatner – Rocketman
Carrick Rangers arrived at Windsor Park looking to continue their title challenge against 5th place Linfield, only to find themselves blown away by a four goal blast midway through the first half.
Three wins and three draws from their opening six games wasn’t a disaster, but Linfield knew if had to be so much better if they have ambitions of winning the League.
Successive games against Carrick Rangers and Warrenpoint Town, teams expected to be in the Bottom Six, were must win, but especially so when you consider the two fixture lists over those two weekends.
One this weekend, Cliftonville, Larne and Glentoran were inactive, while Coleraine could only draw on the Friday night,
The following weekend, those four play each other, presenting Linfield with an opportunity to put some points on board and pull clear of rivals.
After serving a three match ban, Christy Manzinga was back in Linfield’s starting eleven, with Sam Roscoe and Martin Donnelly also starting, as Linfield made a few changes, albeit enforced due to the absence of Trai Hume and Cameron Palmer due to International Call-Ups, but also bearing in mind that they will be playing eight matches in October.
There wasn’t much to write about in the first quarter, with Linfield struggling to break down Carrick, all they could offer was a Stephen Fallon shot that went over the bar, while Carrick had a free-kick that was easily saved by Chris Johns.
It looked like Linfield were going to take the lead when Christy Manzinga was played in behind Carrick’s defence but the play was stopped for a foul and a free-kick to Linfield.
Manzinga’s frustration wouldn’t last long as he stretched to head home from the resulting free-kick to give Linfield the lead.
That goal opened the floodgates, as within a few minutes, it was 2-0 when Sam Roscoe headed home from a corner to realistically put the game beyond Carrick.
Having complained about the quality of set pieces during the draws against Glenavon and Cliftonville, you have no idea how pleased I was by two goals from set pieces.
If there was any doubt as to the destination of the three points, that was soon extinguished when Mike Newberry was played in behind Carrick’s defence (yes, from right-back) and crossed it to Christy Manzinga.
It looked certain that Manzinga would scored from close range, but his shot was saved by the keeper, but he made no mistake from the rebound.
If you were worried that he would have lost momentum by sitting out three games after his red card against Glenavon, those worries were unfounded, as he picked up where he left off.
Soon after, Martin Donnelly started a move on the left, and the time the ball was cleared, it fell to him centrally on the edge of the penalty area to fire home and make it 4-0.
This was the 40th time Linfield had scored four or more in a League match under David Healy. Two of them came in Carrick’s last two visits to Windsor Park. A repeat of the 7-0 scoreline in March was now looking a possibility.
Except, that would be the end of the scoring, as the second-half was a non event.
Christy Manzinga was hungry for a hat-trick, but the attacking intensity wasn’t there to give him the opportunities to get one.
Then the sun came out, causing a bit of an inconvenience for some fans trying to see the game.
Where was it in the morning when I needed it? I was hoping to go for a stroll along the new section of the Lagan Towpath. I’ll have to save that for another time.
That was the height of the excitement.
Unsurprisingly, with a busy schedule either side of this game, Linfield took the opportunity to utilise their bench, giving players who minute minutes some gametime and giving those who need a rest a chance to put their feet up.
With the game now a non event, some supporters took the opportunity to leave early.
Those that stayed were almost rewarded with a fifth goal from Matt Green, but his header was cleared off the line.
It finished 4-0, a nice boost for the goal difference which might be handy come late April, shooting Linfield up to 3rd.
No longer stuck in a traffic jam, now firmly breathing down the necks of Cliftonville and Larne.
Every point is important. Cliftonville are a point clear of Larne because they drew at Seaview where Larne lost.
Cliftonville are two points clear of Linfield because they beat Coleraine who got a draw at Windsor Park.
Larne are one point clear of Linfield despite losing a game because they’ve only dropped five points with a defeat and a draw while Linfield dropped six with three draws.
Next Saturday will be interesting with Cliftonville facing Larne and Coleraine facing Glentoran. A win at Warrenpoint is a must.
If they do that, they can apply some pressure on those above them, and pull away from those below them.
A draw at Solitude will give them the opportunity to go top, but just get the win and worry about other results. It’s too early in the season to even think about other results, although you’re always grateful when they go your way.
It is worth remembering that Linfield lost on their last visit to Warrenpoint, in in their two visits in 2019-2020, needed an injury time goal to finally see off Warrenpoint in December before being made to work for a 2-1 win in February.
That game is sandwiched inbetween two home cup ties against Institute and Dundela which you would expect to get a win.
If they do that, they’ve got a bit of momentum.
Suddenly, those three drawn games are forming part of a long unbeaten start to the season.
It is interesting to note, that Linfield have kept clean sheets in six out of nine domestic games this season.
A good foundation to build on, even more impressive when you consider that the back four has been disrupted by injuries and players departing for other clubs.
You may have noticed me saying that if this match was postponed due to International Call-Ups, i’d go and see Harland and Wolff Welders playing at their new ground.
Well, the ground has been completed, but they couldn’t get the paperwork cleared in time to host a match this weekend, so it was a good job that this match wasn’t postponed.
More than likely, it’ll be November before I get a chance to visit.
My next ground to visit, Warrenpoint.
- Tears For Fears – The Tipping Point
- Lonelady – There Is No Logic
- Feeder – Magpie
- Griff – One Night
- Sigrid – Burning Bridges
Just as with the trip to The Oval three days earlier, this match was never going to decide the destination of the Gibson Cup as early leaders Cliftonville headed to Windsor Park, but it was certainly a case of do not lose, as Linfield can’t afford to let Cliftonville start opening up a lead at the top of the table through the Winter months as they did in 2012-2013.
They didn’t lose it, but there was a sense of frustration at not getting the win, especially after having an early lead.
That early lead was given to them by Jordan Stewart, who fired home after got in behind Cliftonville’s defence, but was too wide to shoot, instead setting it up for Stewart to score.
“Hit it first time, what are you doing?” I shouted as Stewart controlled the ball, before he showed exactly why he plays for Linfield and I am sat in the stand.
Chadwick was one of two changes to Linfield’s team from Tuesday night. Not particularly surprising.
With the quick turnaround in games, Matt Green was never going to start both of them. I wouldn’t be surprised if this arrangement was in place before Tuesday night’s game. With Jamie Mulgrew injured, Cameron Palmer was always going to be the one to come in for him.
Ironically, Jamie Mulgrew was the cover star of the matchday programme as he was interviewed for it. And he didn’t even play.
Joe Gormley looked like he was going to get an equaliser when some sloppy passing from Linfield allowed him a shot from a wide angle, but his shot was blocked by Jimmy Callacher.
Jordan Stewart then had Linfield’s next attacking moment of note when he set himself up on the edge of the penalty area but instead of the expected blast, looked to lob Cliftonville’s keeper, but the ball just went over.
Linfield had plenty of other attacking moments with a Stephen Fallon effort that went over and a Matthew Clarke header that went across the goal.
Frustratingly, neither effort forced Cliftonville’s keeper into a save.
There was also a penalty appeal when Cameron Palmer was bundled over as he entered the penalty area. A soft one, but a penalty for me. One of those that would have been given anywhere else on the pitch.
Despite that, it was still a satisfactory half from Linfield, though they needed that second goal to give them a cushion.
And so it proved, just before the hour when Joe Gormley headed home from a cross.
Matt Green and Niall Quinn were immediately brought on for Billy Chadwick and Kirk Millar. In the case of Green, it wasn’t reactive, he was being warmed up in the minutes prior to Gormley’s goal.
Unsurprisingly, Cliftonville were perked up by their equaliser. Even though they didn’t have a clear goalscoring opportunity. they were having too much of the ball in Linfield’s final third.
Linfield responded by bringing on Martin Donnelly and Ahmad Salam, neither were able to make an impression.
For the second time in three games, Linfield were let down by poor set pieces. Even though Mark Haughey and Mark Stafford, two massive threats, have left the club, even they would have struggled due to the amount of balls into the box going straight to the keeper or not beating the first man.
In games that are tight, or where not a lot is being created in open play, opportunities like this have to be maximised when presented.
As the game entered it’s final minutes, Linfield’s best opportunities came when Matthew Clarke had a shot from the left saved, while Stephen Fallon fired agonisingly wide from a tight angle.
Chris Johns then had to race out to deny Paul O’Neill as he was played through, getting there first before the attacker.
The match finished 1-1, not ideal for either side but better for Cliftonville than it was for Linfield.
As the clock ran down, Cliftonville fans were signing about their side being top of the League. Sadly, they weren’t made to look silly, as the draw meant that they would finish the weekend in that position, regardless of other results.
Other results over the weekend weren’t ideal for either side, with both Glentoran and Larne winning. Carrick Rangers won to leapfrog Linfield and go into 3rd.
All those teams will be putting their feet up on the Monday night for the final game of the weekend’s fixture list between Coleraine and Crusaders, live on Sky Sports, hoping for a draw.
As this game meant I had a free Saturday, so I went on Saturday morning to Cavehill for a walk. Mainly, because I hadn’t been for a while and not because you can see both clubs grounds halfway up.
What a shambles. The Car Park was closed, but the barriers weren’t up until you got there, meaning I had to turn around and do a 3 Point Turn around cars parked on double yellow lines and basically anywhere where there was a space in order to turn around.
At least the amount of Linfield games moved to Fridays over the next few months will give me more opportunities to go to Cavehill.
One of those won’t be next Saturday hopefully, with the game against Carrick Rangers still on and not postponed due to International Call-Ups.
If it was, I had a back-up option of Harland and Wolff Welders v Dergview, the first game at Blanchflower Park.
The ground will be completed in time, but it won’t get a safety certificate in time, so the game has been switched. That means i’ll have to wait until November to visit.
So hopefully, the game against Carrick goes ahead, to avoid another free Saturday.
Before Carrick, is a game against Ards in the County Antrim Shield, with the winner at home to Dundela in the next round. If only that was away, i’d have been well up for that. Obviously, we still have to beat Ards.
It has also been announced that the Hugh Street Voucher will be accepted at Windsor Park, which is a handy option to have.
To be honest, i’d a bit uncomfortable with some of the economic gaslighting in the media. “You must spent here, you must spend there, you must go back into the office and go out for lunch, it’s your moral duty to go to the pub”.
It’s your money, you spend it how you like, although it is great that the Linfield Superstore is an option.
Up next in the League, title chasing Carrick Rangers come to Windsor Park. Let’s hope Linfield can put in a performance and pull off an upset.
And we’ll have Christy Manzinga back.
It wasn’t quite a Title Eliminator, there’s far too many games to go. You couldn’t call it a Title Decider, not when it was a meeting of 6th and 7th.
Neither was it a must-win game for either side, but it certainly was do not lose for either side. Linfield got the win, to get back on track after two draws.
Linfield had went into this game on a winless run against Glentoran of five games, their worst run in this fixture since August 2011 – September 2012. Three of those games were in empty stadiums, this was the first meeting between the sides where both sets of fans can attend since the first of those games in December 2019.
Linfield’s starting eleven was what many would have expected it to be after changes on Saturday against Glenavon, with Matt Green getting the nod up front in place of the suspended Christy Manzinga, who would have started.
In the opening minutes of the game, Matthew Clarke was mostly based in Glentoran’s half, and Linfield weren’t afraid to use him, his best moment being a dangerous cross that almost fell for Matt Green.
It was Glentoran who had the first chance of the game when Jay Donnelly fired wide from an angle when he should have forced the keeper into a save.
Glentoran had a series of speculative shots well saved by Chris Johns.
They weren’t any moments of worry for Linfield, but it just needed one to get lucky. The real worry was that they were getting the freedom to shoot when it was obvious that was the option they were going to take.
On 18 minutes, it was Linfield who took the lead when a clearance hit Jamie Mulgrew and fell perfectly for Matt Green who managed to work space for himself against a defender trying to stop him, setting himself up to shoot from a similar position to Jay Donnelly earlier, but firing home under the keeper.
That assist (And he’ll definitely be adding it to his stats) was Mulgrew’s last involvement in the game, going off injured to be replaced by Cameron Palmer.
Glentoran replied with a shot from Jay Donnelly that was blocked and a Gael Bigirimana snapshot that went over the bar.
Worrying moments, but Glentoran weren’t offering much in open play. As long as Linfield did nothing stupid in defence, they would be fine.
Linfield almost doubled their lead in bizarre fashion when Jordan Stewart was able to keep a stray pass in play, to fire in a cross that evaded everybody, forcing Ross Glendenning into a save, tipping the ball over for a corner.
It was only a brief respite for Glentoran, as Trai Hume headed home from the resulting corner, the only competition he had for the ball was from Jimmy Callacher. It was his first goal for the club, and what a time to get it.
Linfield were able to maintain their 2-0 lead at half-time.
They knew that Glentoran were going to go at them at the start of the second-half, which is what they did, winning a succession of corners.
That was they could offer. As long as Linfield didn’t do anything stupid, they would be fine.
There wasn’t long to wait for a goal, but it wasn’t from Glentoran pressure.
It came in bizarre fashion for Linfield, when a clearance upfield resulted in a through ball to Cameron Palmer.
He was second favourite to the ball but he still chased it, the ball going in off him after a challenge with Ross Glendenning. It was poor goalkeeping, not that any of the Linfield support cared.
Palmer had enjoyed a stroke of luck that had eluded Linfield against Glenavon a few days previously. You make your own luck, and he didn’t chase the ball, he wouldn’t have got a goal.
Even at this early stage, before the hour stage, that was three points for Linfield. There was no way Glentoran would recover from such a devastating blow so soon after entering the pitch to overcome what was already an uphill hurdle.
In fact, for the next few minutes after that goal, the scoreline was only going to go one way, with Linfield now enjoying themselves with the commanding lead., having their best spell of attacking play.
Ironic you could say, as they were 3-0 up without playing that well. Although there is a counter argument that if you restrict your opponents to long range shots and take what chances come your way, that is playing well.
Unsurprisingly, with the three points in the bag. Linfield made the most of their allotted five subs to give players a rest with the next match just three days away.
There were three games on this evening, with this date being used to catch-up on games postponed due to International Call-Ups.
Of the only game of relevance to Linfield, Larne beat Glenavon 1-0, which meant that Linfield would finish the evening in 3rd instead of 2nd (which would have been the case if Larne dropped points) after starting the evening in 7th.
Off the pitch, the week saw the unveiling of info boards on the history of Linfield and Northern Ireland as you enter Windsor Park from Lisburn Road via that bridge.
There is also some artwork done by local schoolchildren, where there was previously a mural of Northern Ireland legends.
Good to see, brightens that area up.
I didn’t get a chance to see it at the Cliftonville game as I wouldn’t head in that way on a weeknight. I look forward to checking it out on the next Saturday afternoon game.
There is a relatively quick return to The Oval for Linfield, well, sort of.
Linfield Swifts have been drawn to face their Glentoran counterparts in the Steel And Sons Cup Quarter-Final, and it’s on a Saturday when Linfield aren’t playing. Very tempting if fans are allowed in.
A very productive trip for Linfield as part of a busy week. Now all attention turned to Cliftonville at home on Friday.