MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 10.2.1979

Terry Butcher and Frank Worthington are the cover stars of Shoot, in a week that sees England, Scotland and Northern Ireland playing European Championship Qualifiers, with England facing Northern Ireland at Wembley.

That match gets a double page feature as you open the magazine.

Brian Talbot might have just signed for Arsenal, but he says he still supports his former club Ipswich Town.

Ray Clemence uses his column to declare that West Bromwich Albion are Liverpool’s biggest rivals for the title.

Emlyn Hughes of Liverpool tells Shoot that he is at a crossroads in his career, as he looks to recover from injury.

Mick Mills of Ipswich Town has a revolutionary plan for the future of English football – A Winter break and reduction of the top two divisions to 16 clubs each.

Nottingham Forest are the subject of this week’s Club Spotlight, having won the title in 1978. They are described as “History makers”, and the day before the publication date, they signed Trevor Francis from Birmingham City, Britain’s first million pound transfer.

Watford have reached the Semi-Finals of the League Cup, and manager Graham Taylor says this was no shock to him.

In foreign news, Argentina star Rene Houseman tells Shoot of his dismay after a move to Middlesbrough fell through.

Cover star Frank Worthington is being nominated for a place in the England team by his Bolton team-mat Willie Morgan.

The magazine ends with Derek Johnstone’s column, as he gets ready for big European games at club and international level – A European Cup Quarter-Final for Rangers against Koln, and a European Championship Qualifier for Scotland against Belgium.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MATCH – 26.8.2000

Kevin Phillips is the cover star of Match as he gives the lowdown on the men looking to take his Golden Boot off him in 2000-2001.

Trying to recover from injury, Ronaldo (The original one, not Cristiano) releases a video as he aims to prove his fitness.

John Aloisi of Coventry gets interviewed as to his firsts, his first football kit was a Juventus one, and his first concert was an Italian singer whose name he can’t pronounce.

There is a double page spread on Kevin Phillips analysing his rivals for the Golden Boot such as Andy Cole, Thierry Henry and Carl Cort.

Continuing the theme of strikers in this episode, Match does a feature on new strikers in the Premier League such as Alen Boksic, Sergei Rebrov, Mark Viduka and Luc Nilis.

Emile Heskey gets a triple page feature, as he admits that Spurs and Leeds were never in the running when he was leaving Leicester.

It’s not all strikers, as some defenders are interviewed ………. as the who the best Premier League striker is. Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp were the most nominated.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 15.7.1989

It’s the summer of 1989 and clubs are getting ready for the new season, as Paul Stewart is cover star of Shoot, telling him of his “White Hart Pain”

The pain in question was a disappointing 1988-1989 season following his move from Manchester City, which gets a double page feature as soon as you open the magazine.

Everton’s new signings Stefan Rehn and Martin Keown get a double page, with Rehn giving up his job as a Painter and Decorator to play in England, while Martin Keown hopes his move to Goodison Park will fulfill his dream of winning the league, which he thought had disappeared when he left Arsenal.

Also leaving Aston Villa was Alan McInally, with Graham Taylor facing criticism from angry fans over the sale. Taylor himself was angry with the conduct by Bayern Munich in the deal, who he says illegally approached his player.

Another player heading to the Continent was Chris Waddle, who has just left Tottenham Hotspur for Marseille, with Spurs manager Terry Venables telling Shoot that this is an opportunity for Gazza to come out of the shadows and become a big star.

Brits abroad were all the rage is this issue, with John Toshack getting a full page profile having just been appointed manager of spanish champions Real Madrid.

Rangers and Celtic are hoping that the Home Office will grant them permits for foreign signings, with Thomas Madigage of South Africa wanting to go to Rangers, and Dariusz Dziekanowski wanting to sign for Celtic.

Lou Macari is the new manager of West Ham, and has told his players they have to toughen up if they want to win promotion.

Tony Agana and Brian Deane are featured as part of a feature called Dynamic Duos, inspired by the cinematic success of the Batman movie, which didn’t actually feature Robin.

This week’s Player Profile was Alan McCleary of Milwall. Disappointingly, they asked him football related question and not who is favourite band is.

The magazine ends with Bryan Robson using his column to declare that Manchester United’s signing of Mike Phelan and Neil Webb will be the best signings of the summer.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MATCH – 7.10.1989

John Barnes is the cover star of Match as England face a crunch World Cup Qualifier away to Poland.

It’s not just England in a crunch game, as Match previews matches involving Republic of Ireland and Scotland.

One man hoping to go to the World Cup if England get there is Mike Newell, who is profiled after a goal filled start to his career at Everton since signing in the summer.

Peter Shilton gets interviewed by Match, and the feature is accompanied by a piece on the oldest footballers in history.

The magazine ends with an advert for the Match 1990 Football Yearbook.

CARRICK RANGERS 0-2 LINFIELD 7.3.2020

After a Fruitful February (four games, four win), Linfield were hoping for a Marvellous March, returning to League action after a weekend off, with a trip to Carrick Rangers, as the season reaches the final straight.

This would also be Linfield’s last game of the season against an opponent in the bottom half of the table. Despite Carrick’s position outside the Top 6, this wouldn’t be an easy game for Linfield.

Despite the scorelines of 3-0 and 2-0, Linfield’s two previous meetings with Carrick have been anything but comfortable.

Their recent record against Carrick is good. Very good. In the four seasons Carrick have played in the top flight since promotion in 2015, Linfield have won ten and drawn one of the eleven meetings, only conceding one goal. An incredible run of nine successive clean sheets against Carrick. And the one goal that Carrick have scored in this period was a penalty.

Despite scoring four goals in each of their last two games, Linfield were forced into two changes through injury, Two Fs – Ferguson and Fallon, probably generating a few Fs amongst Linfield supporters when they heard the news. This was the first game that Rohan Ferguson had missed in the League this season.

Alex Moore got the nod ahead of Gareth Deane to replace him, his first appearance for the club since May 2018.

Bastien Hery, fresh from an international call-up for Madagascar, got the nod to replace Fallon in midfield.

Linfield’s squad was being stretched, just as it will be in January 2021 if Madagascar qualify for the African Cup Of Nations.

Also in receipt of good news, or not if you’re superstitious, is Andrew Waterworth, who won the Player Of The Month award for February, after a run of six goals in four games.

There are cynics who believe the award in jinxed, so it might not be a cause for celebration.

If you are of that persuasion, you’ll be hoping Oran Kearney beats David Healy to the Manager Of The Month award. Glentoran, Crusaders and Cliftonville were be hoping they get a joint award.

Thankfully, it was announced on Sunday morning that the winner was Kearney, which is good news if you believe the award is jinxed.

Positioned ready for the end that Linfield usually attack in the first-half (the one behind the goal where you just stand with no shelter), I got a shock when the sides switched ends and Linfield would now be attacking the away stand they usually attack in the second-half.

So, a quick dash to get into the position where Linfield were attacking, I was hoping there’d be no goal for Linfield inside the first minute of the game, so I wouldn’t miss it or have an obstructed view while being in motion.

They almost did, taking just ten seconds for Andrew Waterworth to look like he was going to get in behind Carrick’s defence, a bad bounce denying him the opportunity, and Carrick were able to clear the danger.

Joel Cooper got the crowd excited with a run out wide as Linfield searched for an early goal to settle the nerves.

They suffered an early blow when Niall Quinn went off injured. Thankfully, Linfield had a ready made replacement on the bench in the shape of Matthew Clarke.

Every weekend for what seems forever, there has been a named storm. No named storm this weekend, but Carrick has it’s own microclimate where today it was very windy. Carrick had it to their advantage in the first-half, and weren’t afraid to hit speculative long range shots.

A lot of them looked like they might be causing Alex Moore problems when the ball was in mid air. However, when the ball dropped down to earth, they turned out to be easy saves.

Whilst Moore was making a lot of saves, none of them were causing any trouble to Moore. You still have to make those saves.

Jordan Stewart had Linfield’s first effort on goal when he got into space but just over.

Soon after, Linfield took the lead when Chris Casement burst down the right wing and got himself into a crossing position in the penalty area. His cross was deflected onto the post, before an attempted clearance hit Kirk Millar and went into the net to put Linfield 1-0 up.

A stroke of luck perhaps, but you make your own luck. If Casement doesn’t make the run and if Millar doesn’t go into the penalty area, Linfield don’t get the goal.

An early goal was exactly what Linfield needed. They’ve struggled this season against teams who have had something to defend. They’ve especially struggled in the previous meetings with Carrick after failing to establish control of the game early on.

They couldn’t get the second goal that they needed. Andrew Waterworth thought he was going to get it but he was flagged offside.

Waterworth looked as though he was going to set up Kirk Millar (Should it not be the other way around?) when the ball fell loose to him after a challenge with Carrick’s keeper, it looked like he was going to put the ball into the empty net, only to be denied by a last ditch tackle.

1-0 up at half-time. Not playing great, but not playing awful. One more goal, and that would be three points.

They started the second-half determined to get that goal, with Joel Cooper firing a shot over in the opening seconds.

There wasn’t long to wait for that second goal, when Kirk Millar curled in a spectacular free-kick to make it 2-0.

It was such a good goal, even one of the Carrick subs warming up beside me applauded it.

Realistically, that was the game for Linfield. There was no way Carrick were going to score two. They didn’t even look like getting one.

Despite that, Linfield still needed a third just to be sure.

Soon after, Shayne Lavery came on for Jordan Stewart. I presume he had a slight injury as it was too early to be making a change with the game won, especially as it was only 2-0.

Lavery had a frustrating afternoon, getting into positions but being denied by a combination of post and Carrick’s keeper.

He almost got an assist when he crossed for Kirk Millar, but his header went just wide, as he looked for a hat-trick.

Millar had an effort go over as well. Whenever he got the ball in an attacking position, fans were urging him on to get the matchball.

There would be no third goal, but two was enough, another three points on the board.

Linfield’s gap at the top remained at four points, but this was a week where you could definitively argue that this season’s title race was whittled down to two teams.

Tuesday’s North Belfast Derby was effectively a title eliminator, where Cliftonville and Crusaders looked to reduce the gap to eight points.

A draw was perfect for Linfield, as it meant they are both ten points behind Linfield. Wins for them both meant they remain ten points behind.

The points difference is bigger than the number of games remaining. Even if either of them wins their last seven games to finish above Linfield, they’ll have to get seven more points than Coleraine as well.

Glentoran kicked off eight points behind Linfield, but the teams have to play each other twice.

That meant they had to win all their remaining games and hope Linfield drop a further three points.

Defeat at home to Cliftonville means the gap is eleven. That is too much to make up at this time of year.

I’m saying it. I’m writing them off. Neither Glentoran, Cliftonville or Crusaders will be 2020 Irish League Champions. It will be either Linfield or Coleraine.

Assuming that Linfield and Coleraine are the Top 2, 3rd place will be a UEFA Cup place if Coleraine win the Irish Cup, and Larne are in the mix for that now, giving those three something else to worry about.

Linfield and Coleraine both won 2-0, which means the goal difference remains at seven in Linfield’s favour. That seems like a lot, but that can be wiped out quite quickly.

It isn’t the big decisive advantage lurking in the background as it was in 2017.

Up next for Linfield is a home match against Larne.

A Larne side who have won their last six League matches.

However, Linfield have won their last five League matches and are unbeaten at Windsor Park in the League since August.

Larne will play Coleraine the week after. I have a suspicion that Linfield and Coleraine will replicate each others results against Larne just as Linfield and Glentoran did in January.

A big game for Linfield to get the win, keep the momentum going and keep the doubters at bay.

Especially as it’s hard to put a case forward for Dungannon Swifts getting a result away to Coleraine.

This week saw the Irish Cup Semi-Final draw, and my oh my, what a kerfuffle.

Surely when this season’s calendar was being created, somebody could have spotted that Irish Cup Semi-Finals over an international weekend could have been problematic if Windsor Park was unavailable.

Especially as they amended the dates of the Semi-Finals in 2015 because it was going to fall on an International Weekend. And 2015 has the exact same (from 1st March onwards) calendar as 2020.

And then to top it off, Cliftonville v Glentoran will be on a date when both clubs will have their Managers away on a Coaching Course.

Did nobody think to ask both clubs before confirming a date?

Talking of draws, this week saw the draw for the UEFA Nonsense League.

There would be no short trip to Scotland or Wales, instead we got Norway, Austria and Romania, all teams faced in the last five years.

Northern Ireland have the potential to finish anywhere between 1st and 4th. And there’ll be two sons of 90s players playing at Windsor Park in the shape of Erling Haaland and Ianis Hagi. Ianis Hagi will hope to avoid being sent-off at Windsor Park like his dad.

I had a look and Toni Polster and Andreas Herzog don’t have a son in the Austria squad.

I’m not booked for any of the away games. Austria would be the most tempting, especially as a double header with Slovakia (There is only one hour between Vienna and Bratislava)

Slovakia are at home to Scotland on the same day that Austria face Northern Ireland.

Talking of travelling, Flybe have gone under, which is a bit of a shitter, as I would use them when I fly to United matches.

As well as a lot of places which will now be cut off for Belfast (We don’t even have a lot of options to begin with), Flybe do a lot of Easyjet routes, so expect Easyjet prices to go up now that they have no competition.

Loganair haven’t wasted time and picked up the Aberdeen and Inverness routes, going direct.

Very tempted by that, for both cities, but Aberdeen has been interesting me after seeing it on Frankie Boyle’s Tour Of Scotland and Susan Calman’s Secret Scotland, and it has some decent Street Art.

However, my next football trip will be a short train journey across Belfast to The Oval in just under two weeks time.

Hopefully by then, Linfield will have a further three points in the bag.

Photo Album

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MATCH – 2.3.2002

The World Cup is not far off, and the race is on to be leading the line for England in the Far East. Michael Owen is guaranteed to go, but the race is on to partner him.

Match does a feature on current Premier League managers who have been cover stars in Match during their playing days.

Match assesses England’s striking options and their chances of going to the World Cup, and it’s good news for Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, Teddy Sheringham and Emile Heskey.

Match has a weekly series called The Men For Sven, profiling England’s squad players. This week’s subject is Gareth Southgate.

Staying with World Cup previews, there is a profile of Group C teams Costa Rica and China.

One of the strikers profiled earlier, Emile Heskey, gets a three page profile.

Hot players profiled by Match include Patrick Suffo, Marco Di Vaio and Maurice Ross.

In Spain, Barcelona striker Patrick Kluivert reveals that he wants to one day play in England.

In letters, Ross Bissell from Dundee predicts that Scotland will do well at Euro 2004 under newly appointed manager Berti Vogts.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : WHEN SATURDAY COMES – NOVEMBER 2002

Kanu and Thierry Henry are the cover stars of this edition of When Saturday Comes, modestly complimenting themselves on Arsenal’s brilliant start to the season.

This editions editorial focuses on footballer’s autobiographies, after Manchester United have banned their players from writing autobiographies after the fall-out from Roy Keane’s recent book.

The furore, gets further investigated in a full page article.

Across the page, there is an article about Darlington’s failed bid to sign Faustino Asprilla, ahead of their move to a 25,000 seater stadium in 2003.

Talking of new stadiums, there might be new ones coming in Republic of Ireland and Scotland, as both countries are making a joint bid to host Euro 2008, with the lack of current stadiums in both countries getting featured by WSC.

The 2003 Women’s World Cup Qualifiers get featured, with France standing between England and a place in the finals.

The French are now allowing their women’s team to use the Clairefontaine facility that the men’s team used to win the 1998 World Cup, and have set a goal of winning the women’s one by 2007.

The tournament was moved from China to USA due to the SARS outbreak, while France won the Qualifier but went out in the group stages. They didn’t win the 2007 competition.

There are features on recently relegated Midlands clubs Derby County (2002) and Coventry City (2001) as they try to get back to the Premier League.

Ahead of a documentary which is about the be premiered, there is a double page spread on the North Korea team that reached the 1966 World Cup Quarter-Finals.

Peter Taylor is helping out at Peterborough, just two years after being England manager, which is covered with the witty headline “From Becks To Posh”

There is a profile of Richard Witschge, highly rated by Johan Cruyff but couldn’t get a game for Blackburn.

Sepp Blatter has just been re-elected FIFA President, and one writer takes him up on his promise to give Oceana an automatic World Cup place.

The monthly look at the best of the web takes a look at the best Welsh football websites, with the national team making a good start to the Euro 2004 Qualifiers.

WSC heads to Norway to look at the problems in club football caused by Rosenborg’s dominance in the 1990s.

Talking of declines, WSC looks at the decline of Scotland and Austria as European forces, focusing on a Champions League game between Sturm Graz and Rangers in 2000.

The magazine ends with a look at the highlights and lowlights of Sheffield United.

LINFIELD 4-0 CRUSADERS 21.2.2020

Linfield and Andrew Waterworth are really enjoying February 2020. The good news is, it has an extra day this year. The bad news is, the next match isn’t until 7th March.

After three successive wins from games they were expected to win, now Linfield faced a game that they must win. Or certainly, do not lose.

Too many times this season, Linfield have failed to deliver when presented with the opportunity to pull clear of a rival. Kicking off eight points clear of Crusaders, albeit with a game more played, Linfield knew that if they won, they could have some justification is regrading the five team title race as a four team title race.

Crusaders were there for the taking, both sides recent forms was going in opposite directions. Linfield had won their last three games while Crusaders had lost their last two.

The pre-match team news saw mixed injury news for Linfield – one in and one out, luckily in the same position as Jamie Mulgrew returned for Kyle McClean.

Straight from kick-off, Linfield looked to get the ball to Joel Cooper. Not a bad tactic considering his recent form.

Linfield were already putting Crusaders under pressure, a statement, winning a corner in the first minute.

Gerard Doherty punched the corner away to Joel Cooper, whose sliced volley fell to Mark Haughey.

The temptation for Haughey would be to help the effort goalwards, but he sent the ball left to Kirk Millar.

Millar’s cross has headed in by Jimmy Callacher, who got in front of his man, to put Linfield 1-0 up with just ninety seconds on the clock.

The man who Callacher beat to the ball incidentally, was his own team-mate, Mark Haughey.

It kept up an incredible run, that this was the ninth successive League goal for Linfield against Crusaders scored by a player whose first name began with J.

It was a run that began when Josh Robinson put them 1-0 up after a minute in December 2017. Linfield would be hoping to kick on and avoid a repeat of the 2-1 defeat they suffered that day.

Cameron Dummigan got a yellow card ten minutes into the game, a surprise considering the unwritten rule that Referees aren’t allowed to issue a yellow card in the opening fifteen minutes of an Irish League game. Even more reason to get Joel Cooper on the ball.

It looked like a second goal was going to come when a cross fell to Andrew Waterworth in the penalty area. Unfortunately, the ball hit him as he tried to control it, and bounced into Gerard Doherty’s arms. A moment of frustration for Linfield.

Crusaders did have sights of Linfield’s goal. Paul Heatley had a left foot shot saved when he would have been better trying to cut in and hit it with his right foot. Rodney Brown saw a header from a free-kick tipped over by Rohan Ferguson.

A satisfactory first-half for Linfield, mostly nullifying Crusaders attack and getting a lead of their own. Now they needed to kill the game off in the second-half.

Linfield went out in the second-half determined to secure the points as early as possible.

Andrew Waterworth had a shot which forced Gerard Doherty into a spectacular save. The respite was only brief for Crusaders.

As Crusaders tried to counter attack, Jamie Mulgrew wasn’t having any of it, winning back possession and starting Linfield on another attack.

That attack saw Joel Cooper run at Crusaders defence and pull the ball back. There was a bit of a scramble, but when the ball fell to Andrew Waterworth a few yards out, there was only going to be one outcome, as Linfield went 2-0 up.

That goal gave Linfield control of the game, but it was almost wiped out straight away when Jamie McGonigle had a free header from a cross, but the ball went straight into Rohan Ferguson’s arms.

Linfield made the most of their escape, applying more pressure on Crusaders goal in search of a third goal just to be sure.

Chris Casement had an effort saved while Stephen Fallon had an effort go just over.

There wasn’t long to wait for the third, as Jimmy Callacher headed home from a corner to make it 3-0. As with the other two goals, it was a case of the Linfield player wanting it more and reacting quicker to the ball when it was in the six yard box.

Even someone as cautious as me knew that the points were in the bag. It was now a case of how many for Linfield.

The three goal lead allowed Linfield to make use of their bench.

Having missed the match against Ballymena through injury, Shayne Lavery came on. Surprisingly, not a straight swap for Andrew Waterworth, but for Jordan Stewart. Why not throw on an extra striker when you’re 3-0 up?

Lavery almost had an instant impact when he got in behind Crusaders defence, but his first time effort was saved by Gerard Doherty while under pressure from a Crusaders defender.

With two more subs to make, Daniel Kearns was introduced to give him game time, having not featured much recently.

For the same reason, it was a bit surprising that Bastien Hery didn’t get a brief cameo, as Rory Currie was Linfield’s final sub, coming on for Andrew Waterworth.

The night got worse for Crusaders when Howard Beverland got a second yellow card for a foul on Shayne Lavery on the halfway line.

When Beverland got his first yellow card, someone beside me was screaming for a second yellow. Beverland is one of those players that you just always think is on a yellow card, even if he isn’t.

I know you always want your team to fight to the end and all that, but Beverland would have been better off letting him go and hope a team mate can cover for you. Now he is suspended from his side’s biggest match of the season.

Not that it is of any concern to Linfield.

Shayne Lavery had an opportunity to make it 4-0 in injury time, but he dragged his shot wide.

Just as against Glenavon last month, Linfield had a counter attack with thirty seconds to go. Just as then, they managed to get a goal in that timeframe, with ten seconds to spare this time, as Stephen Fallon passed a low shot into the back of the net.

Just as with the first three goals, it was about Linfield players wanting it more, Fallon making that run to make something happen, even though the game was long won.

Not important in terms of the result, but it could be by the end of the season.

At kick-off, Linfield’s goal difference was only two better than Crusaders, the only team close to them in this regard. This was effectively an eight goal win, as Linfield’s advantage over Crusaders in terms of goal difference is now ten goals.

The most pleasing thing about this game was the clean sheet, a first in five matches. Wins, goals and clean sheets are good habits to get into at this time of year.

Linfield fans went to bed on Friday night safe in their knowledge their team was now nine points clear at the top, though that would change after Saturday’s games.

The lunchtime game didn’t give them the shock result they were hoping for, as Coleraine beat Institute 4-0.

The 3pm games were a lot kinder for Linfield, with Glentoran (v Glenavon) and Cliftonville (at home to a Ballymena side who had lost seven games in a row. Absolute textbook post 2014 Cliftonville) both drawing.

The five team title race isn’t as exciting as Neutrals are hoping for. Glentoran, Crusaders and Cliftonville are having to argument to say they are part of the title race.

You can’t fully assess the League table until everybody has played the same amount of games, as Coleraine, Cliftonville and Crusaders have a game in hand on Linfield.

Those games are scheduled to take place on Tuesday 3rd March. I won’t be thinking about them that night as i’ll be seeing Blossoms in concert at The Limelight.

The good news for Linfield, is that Crusaders face Cliftonville, so only one of those will win that night, if any. At eleven points behind, this is a title eliminator. Even the victor being eight points behind will be needing a spectacular run of form and a lot of help from others.

Glentoran are eight behind and up against it but not out. They face Linfield twice still, so they can cut that deficit to two. They will need to win all their remaining games just to be part of the title conversation.

Their next three games are against Crusaders, Cliftonville and Linfield. Those first two games will represent further point droppage for Linfield to take advantage of

Coleraine are the main worry for Linfield. Seven points behind but with a game in hand, and with one trophy in the bag.

If Linfield keep winning, it doesn’t matter what the others do. They will need to keep winning just to keep up, and they can’t all win if they play each other.

That game against Glentoran incidentally, has tickets on sale now. It’s good to see that tickets are on sale four weeks in advance of the match. I don’t think this is because of my constant moaning.

Supporters will have two home games, a free Saturday morning, and another Saturday morning on the day of a relatively short away trip to purchase tickets, which is very convenient. I’d better get a move on and get mine.

Here’s a pointless stat for you. A list of how many times Linfield have scored 4 or more goals in a League match under David Healy.

6 – Dungannon Swifts
5 – Warrenpoint Town
3 – Glenavon, Cliftonville, Glentoran, Ballymena United, Ballinamallard United
2 – Crusaders, Portadown, Ards
1 – Coleraine, Institute

Only three teams have avoided such a fate. Linfield face two of them, Carrick Rangers and Larne in their next two games.

Not being greedy. I’ll take a 1-0 win in those two games, and every game remaining this season.

The other club who haven’t conceded four goals in a game to Linfield under David Healy? A bit surprising, Newry City.

I’ll be heading to that game at Carrick by train, hopefully. Assuming that Northern Ireland still has a Railway Network in two weeks time.

Talking of trips, i’m looking at Warsaw maybe for later in the year. Most likely a Saturday-Tuesday on Ryanair. Hopefully, i’ll take in a game while there.

Before Linfield play again, is the UEFA Nations League draw. You should know my views on the “Competition” is that it is a farce. But while we’re in it, a trip to Scotland, midweek game please. It’s been a while since I was last in Glasgow.

So, February 2020 has been a good month for Linfield. Hopefully, March and April will be likewise.

Photo Album

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : FOUR FOUR TWO – OCTOBER 2004

Various stars from Barcelona are the cover stars of this edition of Four Four Two, as the club are at the beginning of a revival after a few lean years at the start of the century.

Steve McManaman is the subject of this Month’s Cash For Questions, where he urges Wayne Rooney to stay at Everton, and reveals his first footballing hero was Bob Latchford.

Brian Clough uses his column to suggest that Trevor Brooking should replace Sven Goran-Eriksson after a sex scandal involving the Swede. Clough died before this magazine hit the shelves.

Lloyd Dyer of West Brom and Alan Blayney of Southampton are the subject’s of this month’s The Boy’s A Bit Special. Blayney reveals he doesn’t share Antti Niemi’s love of Metallica and Iron Maiden.

Robbie Savage uses his column to talk about his excitement about the forthcoming World Cup Qualifier between England and Wales at Old Trafford. It would be a match he wouldn’t take part in as he was suspended after his red card against Northern Ireland the previous month. He never played for Wales again.

Lawrie McMenemy is subject to a Q and A where he reveals that he’s not much of a drinker.

New Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech is also subject to a Q and A, where he reveals that Arsenal were interested in signing him in 2002. Eventually, in 2015, he would sign for Arsenal.

Cover stars Barcelona get 15 pages of coverage, as they return to the Champions League after a season in the UEFA Cup, after a turbulent period at the start of the century. That month, they would give a debut to an unknown teenager called Lionel Messi.

There are three pages dedicated to a round table discussion between fans of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland ahead of the 2006 World Cup Qualifiers, where England, Wales and Northern Ireland were all the the same group.

Gilberto Silva of Arsenal reveals a dark secret to Four Four Two ……… he plays the Mandolin.

Pete Winkleman is interviewed as MK Dons begin their first season in Milton Keynes, having stolen Wimbledon’s place in the Football League.

Elswhere in the Football League, there is a full page feature on Nick Barmby, as he has signed for his local club Hull City.

In Scotland, there is turmoil at Hearts as the club plans to sell Tynecastle and play home games at Murrayfield.

BALLYMENA UNITED 1-4 LINFIELD 14.2.2020

Why spend Valentine’s Day with the one you love when you can spend it with the eleven that you love? We’ve had our ups and downs lately, but things are going well. Although, we’d rather have been putting our feet up and getting ready for the League Cup Final.

That trophy may be gone, but the League was still up for grabs. With three rivals all inactive in the League this weekend, Linfield knew they could put a lot of pressure on them with a win here.

Linfield’s starting eleven showed one change from their last game, with Jordan Stewart coming in for the injured Shayne Lavery, as Linfield reverted to 4-2-3-1.

The game got off to a slow start, for both teams, a lot of the game being played in midfield as both defences were on top.

Linfield’s first chance was a header from Andrew Waterworth that couldn’t be diverted goalwards.

Ballymena’s first chance was a shot from Joe McCready that forced Rohan Ferguson into a save. A reminder to Linfield that for all their possession, the object of the game is to put the ball into the back of the net.

They certainly got a reminder of that when Joe McCready created space for himself on the edge of the box to shoot. It looked set up perfectly for a left foot curler, but he went for the right foot, and got the outcome he wanted, putting Ballymena 1-0 up.

I was sat at the other end and had a perfect view of it as he set himself up. It was in from the moment he hit it.

Worryingly, this was the sixth time in seven games that Linfield had conceded in the League, five in a row and seven in eight in all competitions. This is something that will need to be addressed in the run-in if Linfield have any ambitions of winning the League.

Remarkably, despite this run, Linfield have the second best clean sheet record in the League, only one behind Coleraine.

Although, it should be pointed out, that the last time Linfield kept a clean sheet, people were moaning that day, because it came in a 0-0 draw against Dungannon Swifts.

Having already ruined my birthday by not being in the League Cup Final and playing on this date, Linfield were now ruining it again by losing.

The response, was instant. Well, not as instant as the response to going 1-0 down against Dungannon earlier in the month. We had to wait five minutes for it.

Ballymena’s goal kickstarted Linfield into life, adding more intensity and urgency into their attacking. That was rewarded when Mark Haughey headed home from a header by Kirk Millar. Just like with McCready’s goal, it was in from the moment he sent it goalwards.

Earlier in the day, Millar had passed his Driving Test, and was now hoping that this would kickstart a three point turn, with the points now going to Linfield rather than Ballymena.

On his previous appearance at Ballymena, Haughey was sent-off, so this was a welcome change in fortune.

Credit to the Referee as well, for playing advantage in the attack that led to the corner after a foul on Jordan Stewart, before going back to book the Ballymena player who committed the foul.

Jordan Stewart then escaped the attention of a couple of Ballymena players in the penalty area, before hitting a left foot shot that was tipped over by Ross Glendenning.

Adam Lecky was then lucky to only to shown a yellow card for a high foot when going for the ball.

As it looked like the sides were going to go in at half-time level, Linfield took the lead with just fifteen seconds of injury time remaining when Joel Cooper ran into the box and saw his shot saved, then bounced off a defender perfectly for Jordan Stewart to finish from a few yards put.

The mood in both Dressing Rooms had now changed. For Linfield, it was no longer about winning the game, it was about finishing the game off.

Half-time leads at Ballymena have been precarious for Linfield in recent years. 2017 and 2018 had seen them go in 1-0 up but find themselves 2-1 down early in the second-half, so nothing would be taken for granted.

Linfield needed a third just to be sure, and looked the most likely to score.

A free-kick from Stephen McCullough which went just wide was a reminder to Linfield that they needed it.

Eventually it came, when a Ballymena player headed a corner towards his own goal. From where I was sat, it looked like it was going in, but TV replays suggested it might have been hitting the post.

Jimmy Callacher wasn’t waiting to see, nipping in to make it 3-1.

You sensed that if Linfield could make it 3-1, that would be the points in the bag.

Even though they drew 3-3 after being 3-1 up in 2010, and had a tense 3-2 win after being 2-0 and 3-1 up in 2014, Ballymena didn’t look like they had a two goal comeback in them.

Something that has been a bit of an issue for me in recent games has been the lack of substitutions. None at Warrenpoint and only one against Dungannon.

Though there was nobody who deserved to be taken off, we have a squad and we should be using it, especially to bring on fresh faces in attacking areas.

The third goal did bring a sub for Linfield, not one I would have made, as Matthew Clarke came on for Jordan Stewart where there were like for like options who could have come on for Stewart.

Within a few minutes, it was 4-1 as a run from Joel Cooper was frustrated by a save from Glendenning, then the crossbar, before Andrew Waterworth finished from close range, his fifth in three matches.

The 4-1 lead allowed a few more substitutions for Linfield, as Bastien Hery came on for Kyle McClean, who had needed treatment earlier in the half.

Rory Currie came on for Andrew Waterworth, his brief involvement saw him create an opportunity for Joel Cooper.

Points are vital, but so are goals. Linfield have the best goal difference in the League, but are only two better than Crusaders, so were thankfully for a Niall Quinn clearance from a Ballymena header on the line, even if it wasn’t important in the context of the match.

As the final whistle blew and scores were announced over the PA System, with a fancy new ringtone that sounds like you’re in a Supermercado, Linfield fans were celebrating even more good news from East Belfast, that Glentoran had drawn 0-0 with Carrick Rangers.

A shock to an extent, but not as much. Carrick have been one of the best teams Linfield have faced this season, their naivety being their undoing. After the game against Linfield in November, I felt they would get a big result against a Top 5 team this season, now they’ve got two. Hopefully, not a third when Linfield visit Taylor’s Avenue on 7th March.

That result puts Linfield six points clear of Glentoran. Glentoran still have the title race in their hands as they face Linfield twice (but have to make up twelve goals over nine games), but they have no margin for error. As long as Linfield keep winning, Glentoran have to keep winning just to stay alive in the title race.

The six point lead at the top is deceptive as Coleraine hand a game in hand, which could cut the lead to four points. Good, but not comfortable.

Friday night’s results meant that the identity of the Top 6 has been confirmed, although i’m still expecting Glenavon to somehow have a late surge to 3rd.

That means Linfield will know their final five opponents but not the order, is this will be determined by League positions after Matchday 33.

I have a suspicion dates might be confirmed in advance of that at the request of PSNI/Health and Safety due to some matches that may require ticketing.

One last note about this game, but with the League Cup Final kicking off at 7.30pm, there’s no reason why the Friday night games couldn’t have been played on Saturday afternoon as there’d be no clash, even if the games had earlier starts of 1pm or 2pm.

That said, Friday worked out well for me as I had something to go to on the Saturday afternoon (You’ll see that in the next blog) and the weather on Saturday afternoon may have resulted in a postponement.

Up next, is a home match against Crusaders. This is a big game, an opportunity to not quite kill off Crusaders, but leave them well behind this.

Far too many times this season, Linfield haven’t been ruthless when given the chance to pull away from teams. Not only will a win see Linfield pull further clear of Crusaders, it will put pressure on Cliftonville, Coleraine and Glentoran as they prepare for their Saturday games.

Although, those three play Bottom 6 teams, they should win, it might not be so simple if Linfield have added some pressure on them.

With two defeats in a row, including the League Cup Final, Crusaders are there for the taking. Attack them, don’t play to their tactics, and keep your heads.

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