LINFIELD 5-0 DUNGANNON SWIFTS 19.3.2022

Eetu Four-tainen, you could say. Unless you’re German, then you can say Eetu Vier-tainen. You felt it wouldn’t be long until he opened his goalscoring account, he did it in style, becoming the first Linfield player to hit four in a game since Andrew Waterworth. Coincidentally., that was also in a 5-0 win over Dungannon Swifts during the month of March, back in 2019.

Four and five were key numbers pre-match, having navigated four successive wins since defeat at The Oval, and were looking for a fifth to go into the split in a good run of form, which always helps.

Kieron Evans was rewarded for some impressive cameos with a start, with Sam Roscoe coming into the defence and Ethan Devine having to wait on the bench despite his goalscoring heroics last weekend.

There wasn’t long to wait for an opening goal, when Chris McKee set up Eet Vertainen, who cut inside and fired home to put Linfield 1-0 up.

Just ten minutes on the clock and the breakthrough Linfield needed in a game where it was so important to get an early lead.

The game then became Attack v Defence, with Linfield trying to work an opening through Dungannon.

Linfield just needed a second goal to be sure. The longer it stayed 1-0, the more Dungannon would have felt they could get something out of this game.

Chris Shields had a shot go over. He would have fancied it having scored his only goal from open play for Linfield against Dungannon in January.

Just after the half hour, Linfield doubled their lead when Eetu Vertainen was played in behind Dungannon’s defence.

It looked like the opportunity had gone when he was now in a difficult angle to shoot. A low composed finish from a tight angle snuck in, and Linfield now had a cushion.

Such a lead was a luxury at Windsor Park this season.

This was the first time since October that Linfield had a two goal lead at home in the League before the 85th minute.

Every other game had wither been a one goal win, a late second clincher or a draw. In other words, up for grabs right until the end.

Even though the points were secured, having such a lead at home had been a rare experience for Linfield fans.

It wasn’t long before the lead was extended, but this time it was Vertainen providing the assist for Chris McKee to attempt to go around the keeper. He got a bit lucky when the ball fell back to him, but he made no mistake with his second chance, firing home from close range to make it 3-0.

Just before the end of the half, it was almost four when a cross was pulled back to Eetu Vertainen who fired over.

You could see by the look on his face how frustrated he was not to get a hat-trick. He was fancying getting one.

3-0 at half-time meaning that Linfield fans could prepare for the second-half in a relaxed mood. Let’s hope this sort of thing catches on.

With the title race so tight, even the goal difference was relatively tight, so it was important to try and give that a boost.

It was in Linfield’s favour, but not buy a big amount, where a big win for Cliftonville or Glentoran could wipe it out.

A big win for Linfield though, could pull them out of reach in that regard.

It looked like it was going to be 4-0 when Kirk Millar made space for himself in the penalty area but his left foot shot went well wide.

With each passing minute, it was obvious that the game was won, taking the opportunity to bring on a few subs, with a return to action for Martin Donnelly amongst them.

Eventually, it became 4-0 when Eetu Vertainen was played through, cut inside and finished to complete his hat-trick.

It got even better soon afterwards when Vertainen finished again from close range to make it 5-0.

With the game long won, attention turned to results elswhere. It was a mixed bag from a Linfield point of view, with a win for Cliftonville and a draw for Glentoran.

That gives Linfield a five point lead over Glentoran, despite Glentoran winning the League in mid February.

Linfield’s lead at the top has now increased to four points, over Cliftonville who have jumped up to second.

It is a deceptive lead, as Cliftonville have a game in hand. That will come in midweek against Dungannon Swifts.

I can’t honestly see Dungannon getting anything against Cliftonville, but you live in hope.

Next week sees Linfield travel to Warrenpoint Town in a lunchtime kick-off live on Sky.

Playing earlier gives them the opportunity to put even more pressure on Cliftonville and Glentoran, but only if they win.

It’s a game where they won’t have McKee or Vertainen available due to International Call-Ups.

That would leave Ethan Devine and Andrew Clarke as the only striking options available, but that was the front two they finished against Crusaders the previous week.

I’m going to take advantage of the early kick-off by checking out Warrenpoint after the game. Hit me up with suggestions.

It is doable to head straight to Lansdowne Road for Republic Of Ireland v Belgium at 5pm, if you’re into Groundhopping. I am joking on that regard.

Talking of football trips, i’m looking at going away for my birthday in February next year, so looking for suggestions. I am open to travelling from Dublin as the options from Belfast are crap.

It doesn’t have to be a football trip, but it would be rude not to.

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