It hasn’t been upgraded to a panic yet, but it is a concern, as Linfield exited the Irish Cup just six days after being knocked off the top of the Irish League table, as the winless run now stands at three matches at the worst possible time of year.
This wasn’t quite the response to Coleraine that people had in mind. Now Linfield are looking to respond to not responding when they needed to respond.
For the first ten minutes of this match, it was largely uneventful. However, that was to soon change when a shot from Andy Scott was punched by Chris Johns and fell straight to Lee Bonis to fire home and put Larne 1-0 up.
As soon as the ball was punched out, there was only going to be one outcome.
It was a bad one from Johns, the shot was catchable, or at worst, just tip it over the bar.
In a game of this importance, where the first goal would be key, it was such a bad goal to concede.
There was almost an instant response from Linfield, when Kirk Millar intercepted a pass and his cross intended for Christy Manzinga, fell perfectly for Ahmed Salam but his shot hit the post and went out for a goal kick.
He really should have scored. Even at this early stage, it was starting to look like it was one of those nights.
The night wasn’t getting much better for Linfield, you were thinking now you’d be happy to take a 0-1 at half-time
Linfield were all over the place, especially at the back. Chris Johns parried another effort just like the goal but got away with it.
Trying to play it out from the back, but the problem was, it was going back to Larne with no movement of inspiration in midfield.
Chris Johns was having too much of the ball at his feet as a result.
There’s nothing wrong with passing the ball back to the keeper when it’s the right thing to do, but far too often, the ball was going back to him because it was the easy thing to do.
As the half neared it’s end, Niall Quinn looked like he was going to equalise until his header was tipped over by Conor Devlin.
It was a strange paradox. As bad as Linfield were in the first-half, they still had two excellent goalscoring opportunities that could have brought an equaliser.
The start to the second-half wasn’t particularly inspiring. The much hoped for response didn’t materialise. It only took ten minutes before David Healy had seen enough, making a triple change bringing on Ethan Devine, Chris McKee and Jake Hastie.
It was Ethan Devine who was having the biggest impact, getting into positions and trying to make things happen. It looked like he was going to set up an equaliser when he headed on a set piece to Jimmy Callacher who headed wide when he should have scored.
When Jimmy Callacher can’t score from a header, you know it’s not your night.
As frustrating as he is, it wasn’t Christy Manzinga’s night either.
No matter how bad he plays, you keep him on because he might just get that goal.
It wasn’t going to happen, allowing himself to get into personal battles with Larne players instead of concentrating on putting the ball in the net.
Nobody was surprised when he got replaced for Kieron Evans as Linfield searched for an equaliser to at least get extra-time.
With ten minutes to go, that became an uphill task when a misplaced backpass from Jamie Mulgrew fell perfectly for Lee Bonis to round Chris Johns and make it 2-0.
Even with ten minutes to go, everybody knew deep down that it was game over.
As bad as Linfield were, they gifted Larne two goals.
It was a strange paradox where Linfield didn’t really pose much of an attacking threat but still had three great chances to score.
They just need to start doing the basics right at both ends, and quick.
After the game, Michel Parker was added to the squad, which suggests there may be fears over the fitness of Chris Shields and/or Cameron Palmer.
The squad now looks a bit bloated and lopsided, there’s a 2008-2009 vibe to it.
Up next, Larne again. The truth this, this game won’t make much of a difference to that game. I’d be saying that even if Linfield won.
And that is something they need to start doing again, and quick.
Elsewhere, Northern Ireland Block Bookings have reopened. I’m going to try and get moved to the Railway Stand. I’m bored of The Kop. Just bored by boring bores. You know the sort. They’re not a “Geg” and they’re not “Great craic”, they are just bores. Time to move to the more serene surroundings of the Railway Stand I think.
Northern Ireland are part of a bid for Euro 2028. We’re going to be a spare wheel. The guy on the night out who doesn’t get told of the change of plan and turns up at the wrong bar.
Not sure I can be bothered about how we should have built a 300,000 capacity stadium at The Maze.
I may be tempted to a game or two in England though.
This result means I will now have three free Saturdays to fill. I may go away somewhere. Brighton v Man United on the weekend of the Final sounds tempting.