October is probably too early for games to be described as “must-win”, but two defeats and two postponements meant that Linfield had a lot of catching up to do.
Three defeats, including two in their last three League games meant that Coleraine also had a lot of catching up to do.
Naturally, in a game neither side could afford to lose, they cancelled each other out and drew 0-0.
There are some football stats you could make up and people would believe it.
If I told you that the last twenty meetings between Coleraine and Linfield had finished 0-0, you would believe it. It’s just one of those fixtures.
This is a game that is convenient for me to travel by train.
Due to the Belfast to Derry Line only having an hourly service, it means you have a bit of a dilemma going to the game.
Leave at 1.10pm and you are cutting it fine for kick-off, especially as Coleraine have moved the away entrances to be further away from the Train Station.
I got the 11.10am train, which was 20 minutes late.
That would have been problematic if I had got the later train and experienced such a delay and missed part of the game.
In retrospect, that probably would have been a good thing. This was not a good match.
Coleraine had the first attacking moment of the game when a shot from Conor McDermott was easily saved.
Linfield’s first attacking moment of note came when a free-kick from Joel Cooper went just wide.
Coleraine’s next big attacking moment saw Matthew Shevlin stretching to get on the end of a cross to no success, while Stephen Fallon headed over for Linfield from a good position under pressure from Robbie McDaid, probably too eager to get a goal for himself.
Even at this early stage, it was hard to see where a goal was going to come for either team. This game had 0-0 written all over it.
Chris Johns was spending his afternoon catching crosses and not doing much else..
As the minutes ticked down, Stephen Fallon had a volleyed effort go just wide while Sam Roscoe had a header go well wide.
The most glaring question was, where were the subs?
Too little too late. The game was there to be one, but Linfield didn’t take the risk.
Attacking their own fans, if they had wave after wave of attacks, Coleraine would have capitulated.
I get that 4-5-1 has it’s merits in some games, but when the ground work is done, you have to go for it.
In the end, the verdict was the same for both teams, comfortable in defence but not enough up front.
This was the game where I learnt what a “Staggered egress” is. They couldn’t stop announcing it over the tannoy during the final 20 minutes.
Seemingly, Coleraine fans were kept behind to allow Linfield fans to leave.
Problem was, when you see how far the away exits are from Coleraine Train Station, it was all a bit pointless.
One of those announcements was being made as Linfield had an attacking free-kick with seconds remaining of injury time
It was all set up perfectly for Linfield to score and the away fans to start chanting “We’re not going home”.
Of course that was never going to happen, they couldn’t get home quick enough after a rather forgettable afternoon of football.