It was a night of mixed emotions.

A game that Linfield could, and should have won, they ended up hanging on in stoppage time.

In the end, they gained a point on morning leaders Glentoran. The problem is, when you’re chasing five teams, it’s not good enough as it was ultimately two points dropped on Larne and Crusaders.

Injury to Kirk Millar meant that Linfield would be forced into a change from Saturday’s team.

Instead of the change at half time where Eetu Vertainen came on for him, it was Chris Shields who came in.

Disappointing, seeing how effective Vertainen’s introduction against Portadown was. Linfield carried far more attacking threat with him on the pitch.

Another case of trying not to lose against a Top 6 team when Linfield need to go on a winning run.

Linfield had a lot of the ball in the early minutes of the game, but it was nowhere near to Cliftonville’s penalty area to do any real damage.

Sam Roscoe had to get in the way to block a long range shot from Ronan Doherty.

That was all Cliftonville were offering, restricted to long range shots.

Linfield found out the hard way against Glentoran a few weeks previously that all it needs is for one of them to hit someone, get lucky, and then you’re in trouble.

In truth, there were no clear opportunities for either side. Not one where you though the attacker should have scored or the keeper has made a great save.

Linfield’s next attacking moment came when Joel Cooper made space for himself on the edge of the box but fired over.

A pass to Cameron Palmer, who was free on the right, was probably a better option, but when you’re on the run of goalscoring form he is on, he has every right to go for goal.

There was more agony for Linfield as a header from Andrew Clarke hit the post.

I had a perfect view of it. The ball headed towards the goal in slow motion, I was getting ready to celebrate, only to see it hit the post.

Chris Shields got booked and then walked a tightrope after a foul.

Not for me, but you have to be extra careful.

Having been the better team and with the game in the balance, a red card was the last thing Linfield needed.

Cliftonville were restricted to long range shots but could not be discounted, with the few decent attempts on goal being from Linfield players. This match was there for the taking.

It was unsurprising that Cliftonville would show more of an attacking threat in the opening minutes of the second-half, with a few crosses that caused worry for Linfield’s defence.

Rory Hale then had a shot deflected wide for a corner.

By this point, I had moved to a seat at the other end of the pitch and thought it was going in.

TV replays showed there was never a danger of it going in.

That is just my natural reaction when the opposition have the ball, that a goal is just seconds away.

Linfield then had their best chance of the game, when a quick counter saw Cooper and Andrew Clarke poetically set up Matthew Clarke but his shot went over, when low and across the keeper would have resulted in a goal.

I could see some of Linfield’s subs warming up in front of me, head in hands. They knew it was a big chance.

Eetu Vertainen was especially frustrated. He was probably right. It might have been 1-0 to Linfield if he was the one being played in.

More frustration followed when Cameron Palmer had a shot from the edge of the box go just wide.

Linfield really needed to start making this pressure count.

More importantly, where were the subs?

A few fresh legs could have made the difference.

The players that were on the pitch were still creating chances though.

A cross from Chris Shields after a bit of faffing about at a free-kick looked like it was going to be headed in by Jimmy Callacher, but he was beaten to it by a Cliftonville defender, although a goal kick was given.

The ball was just not going into the back of the net.

Eventually, the subs bench was utilised, with Eetu Vertainen coming on for Robbie McDaid and Ethan Devine coming on for Cameron Palmer.

In my opinion, Andrew Clarke should have been one of the players making way. No slight on his performance, but he wasn’t what was needed.

Jimmy Callacher was what was needed for Linfield at the other end as he got in the way to block a cross that looked set to be diverted in if he wasn’t there.

Having been doing the basics all night, Chris Johns was called upon in injury time when a quick Cliftonville counter attack saw Ryan Curran put through, but Johns was quick out, made himself big and made the save.

By some quirk or coincidence, he had to do the same in October last season late in the game when the sides drew at Windsor Park.

It was Cliftonville’s first real big moment of the game as an attacking force. It almost won it for them.

From the resulting clearance, Cliftonville won the ball back and Curran had another go, controlling the ball and firing it low goalwards, but it went wide.

When you are sat at the opposite end, your view can be a bit deceiving. I thought it was going in, but in truth, there was never a danger of it.

Suddenly, Linfield were hanging on for a point in a game they could easily have been comfortably ahead in.

Hang on they did. It didn’t quite feel like a defeat, but it felt like something not good.

A point gained on the morning leaders, but they weren’t the night time leaders, overtaken by Larne.

Another draw against Cliftonville, six out of the last seven (although two of those were won on penalties by Linfield)

It continued a worrying trend against fellow Top 6 teams, two points from five games, and they were both 0-0 draws.

This game was there for the winning.

Too defensive and too scared.

You make your own luck in football, but Linfield aren’t doing enough to help themselves.

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One thought on “LINFIELD 0-0 CLIFTONVILLE 8.11.2022

  1. Pingback: 2022 IN PICTURES – NOVEMBER | Analogue Boy In A Digital World

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