When Linfield play Dungannon Swifts, they generally have three types of results. A draw, a barely deserved win, or a routine hammering.
At face value, this might look like another routine hammering, but the truth was far from it.
It is coming up to eight years since Linfield last lost a League game to Dungannon Swifts, although they did lose 4-3 to them at Stangmore Park in a Pre-Season Friendly in August.
I’m beginning to think we let them win that one just so they could have a win when it didn’t matter.
This one did matter, although it felt like a Pre-Season Friendly in the early stages, with not much attacking cohesion from Linfield.
However, on 16 minutes, they made the breakthrough, when Matthew Clarke was able to barge his way into the penalty area, and fire home with his left foot.
If you thought that would be the opening of the floodgates, you would be mistaken.
The best they could offer was a header from Jimmy Callacher.
He seemed quite annoyed about that and had a determination that he was going to get a goal every time he went up for a set piece.
Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be his day.
It wasn’t many people’s day in an attacking sense for Linfield, Christy Manzinga, for so long this season enduring a frustrating afternoon, having a shot blocked after cutting in from the right, before being denied by a block and then seeing a volley hit the ground and then be turned around for a corner.
Dungannon were having some shots on goal that were easily saved by Chris Johns, but you had a feeling you had seen this game before.
One game that came to mind was Newry at home in 2011. Early goal, game meanders, then a lucky bounce in injury time presents an opportunity to make it 1-1.
Linfield needed a second goal, and as soon as possible.
They weren’t going to get it with misplaced passes, of which there were plenty.
One of them, from Kirk Millar almost resulted in a spectacular long range strike for Dungannon, to the sound to groans from the North Stand.
That seemed to spur Millar into life, who responded by doing what he does best, setting up a goal, this time from Matt Green, who finished from close range from his cross.
The goal came about after Millar took advantage of a stray pass by a Dungannon player. Linfield had taken advantage of Dungannon’s misplaced passes, while Dungannon had failed to take advantage of Linfield’s misplaced passes.
It prompted Millar to run to the Linfield support in the North Stand and make the “Shuush” gesture, which is one of the worst things in football according to the Henry Winter Outrage Chart. I was wondering if it would be the first time a player has been booked for antagonising his own supporters.
I doubt the referee would be that stupid. as they would turn their ire to him if he did.
Soon after, it was 3-0, the same combination with Kirk Millar crossing for Matt Green to make it 3-0 with an effort that should really have been saved by the keeper.
A scoreline that flattered Linfield, but they’ll take it.
With Cliftonville, Larne and Coleraine all winning, it kept the pressure on at the top of the table.
Ideally, Linfield would have been playing Ballymena at home on the Tuesday after this, but the rearranged League Cup tie against PSNI took priority.
As enjoyable as getting double figures was, I would have preferred an undeserved scrappy 1-0 win over Ballymena.
While Linfield were inactive in League terms, it allowed Cliftonville to stretch their lead with a 4-0 win over Portadown. The 1-1 draw between Larne and Glentoran was perfect. That combination of results made it even more frustrating that match wasn’t played, for varying reasons.
Meanwhile, the draw for the Women’s Euro 2022 was made. Very tempting to go over and watch Northern Ireland, but the draw wasn’t kind, placing them in Southampton.
No offence to Southampton, it’s just that it only has one air route from Belfast, meaning the prices are sky high (no pun intended) compared with other English cities which may have two airlines running routes there.
First game is during the July Holidays, so it would be a good excuse to get away.
Forget about Hampshire, my next football trip will be to Portadown.
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