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.