NORTHERN IRELAND 1-0 RUSSIA 14.8.2013

Well, the football season is truly in full swing now, as last night, I attended my first international of the season, albeit, one that should have been played in March.

Despite it being August, in typical Belfast fashion, the weather was only slightly better than when the original game was postponed.

For what it’s worth, if the original game had taken place when scheduled, I think Russia would have won easily. They had a winning run and momentum, but a defeat to Portugal, combined with Portugal and Israel winning while Russia were inactive, meant this was an entirely different game for Russia.

For games like this, you always think about the cliches about wether Russia “Would fancy it”. They conceded a throw-in within 3 seconds. Hmm, wonder if it is one of those nights?

Northern Ireland started well and held their own, but Russia always looked dangerous when they attacked. However, when they get through Northern Ireland’s defence, there always seemed to be another defender ready to cover.

They say, you make your own luck, and if your defenders are in the right place for a set piece, it’s not luck.

About midway through the first-half, I thought to myself that this could be a good night. When Northern Ireland hit the post, and Jamie Ward wasn’t able to put the rebound, I thought it might be one of those nights.

One the verge of half-time, Northern Ireland went 1-0 up when Niall McGinn crossed for Martin Paterson to head in. It showed what Northern Ireland’s performance was about. McGinn didn’t give up when it looked like the ball was going out, and Paterson fought to win that header.

But it wasn’t all about fight, Northern Ireland played some nice football, and weren’t afraid to try new things.

The expected bombardment from Russia never materialised. In fact, Northern Ireland looked more likely to score.

One of the things noticed was a new level of street smart, with players knowing how and where to win cheap free kicks to kill the game or give them a tactical advantage.

Before the kick-off, the atmosphere felt a little flat, but it got better and noisier as the game went on, as the crowd got behind the team throughout the 90 minutes.

Finally, the final whistle went and Northern Ireland got the win. It might not send us to Brazil, but it can be the springboard to moving up the rankings ahead of the Euro 2016 draw.

As disappointing as results have been, Michael O’Neill always had a long-term job to do. With so few games, it was always going to take a while to see the fruits of his labour.

Let’s hope this is a similar springboard to the England win in 2005.

Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – MARCH

March, like February, began in another country. Though, unlike February, there was no two games in one day shenanigans.

My first game in March was the Setanta Cup tie at Tallaght Stadium between Shamrock Rovers and Linfield. My main reason for going to this game was that i’d never been to Tallaght Stadium (think the UCD Bowl is the only main Dublin stadium I haven’t been to)

Unfortunately, I made it there just in time for kick-off, so didn’t really get much in the way of good photos, though Linfeld’s lack of attacking situations didn’t really help.

The following Saturday, I was at Linfield v Lisburn Distillery. A match so bad, I got no worthwhile pictures whatsoever.

The following weekend, I made my second visit to Old Trafford of the season to see United take on Reading.

I was in the Stretford End and got some ok pictures in what was a poor game.

Having originally thought I would miss this due to being in Manchester, Sky moved Linfield’s trip to Seaview to a Monday night, meaning I was able to go. Not really sure why I bothered.

Managed to get some nice shots of Seaview. You have to clutch at straws for positives when you’ve spent two hours in the freezing cold watching your team lose 3-0.

The following weekend, Northern Ireland’s World Cup Qualifier against Russia was postponed, and due to the attempts to play the game on the Saturday afternoon after a Friday postponement, I didn’t even have an opportunity to try and get a picture of a snow covered Windsor Park.

The following Tuesday, I was at Windsor Park for the match against Israel, and got some ok photos.

Five matches, four competitions, three countries. A real mixed bag of a footballing month.

Shamrock Rovers v Linfield

Shamrock Rovers v Linfield Photo Album

Manchester United v Reading

Manchester United v Reading Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Israel

Northern Ireland v Israel Photo Album

NORTHERN IRELAND 0-2 ISRAEL 26.3.2013

Was at Windsor Park last night for the World Cup Qualifier between Northern Ireland and Israel at Windsor Park. It was a familiar story to the other group games.

The frustrating thing about this game was, Israel were there for the taking. Israel are usually the 3rd team in most groups they play in. They give 1st and 2nd a tough game, but can sometimes slip up away to lower ranked teams.

Walking into Windsor Park, the atmosphere seemed quite subdued, and stayed that way through the game. The start of the game was “touchy feely”, to use a punditry phrase, before Northern Ireland started to get on top.

Steven Davis forced the Israeli keeper into a great save during the first-half. I was in The Kop and thought it was a bad miss, only realising it was a great save when watching a TV replay later on.

In truth, that was the only save he had to make, but he was put under pressure. Not enough pressure in my opinion, as far too many crosses were caught by him unchallenged.

When Israel got their first clear sight on goal, they finished it. There was no way back from that as the stuffing was knocked out of Northern Ireland. They never recovered.

As good as the finish for Israel’s second goal was, Jonny Evans really should have done better in stopping the corss.

So that’s it, another game where we can console ourselves that we gave it a go, and deserved more than we got. I do believe progress is being made under Michael O’Neill, and that it is a long term job, but it would be nice to get onto a winning run.

The worst part about international football is, there are so few games, so every game must be taken advantage of.

Was in the Lower Deck of The Kop and got some ok photos, nothing special.

Enjoy

 

Photo Album

 

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 28th APRIL 1990

This edition of the Magazine Archive sees us look at Shoot from 28th April 1990.

This week, was focusing on the Rumbelows Cup (That’s Carling Cup in modern currency) Final between Nottingham Forest and Oldham.

Then, Forest were a top flight club while Oldham were riding high (Getting promoted in 1991, and being Premier League founding members in 1992) in the Second Division (That’s The Championship in modern currency)

With the two clubs not meeting in the league that season, the cover image is of an Oldham player in a challenge with Manchester United’s Bryan Robson during the recent FA Cup Semi-Final between the two sides.

Personally, I would have went with a split image of a player from each team.

Each team gets a double page spread preview

A further double page spread is given to “Shoot Star Writer” Tony Cottee’s pre-match preview.

He rates each player in the starting 11 and 2 subs out of 10, with Nottingham Forest scoring 103 and Oldham scoring 104 with Cottee declaring that Oldham would win.

Nottingham Forest won the final 1-0 with a goal from Nigel Jemson, who 14 years later would be playing for Ballymena United.

Meanwhile, there is a competition to win flights and tickets to see England’s World Cup games against Republic Of Ireland or Holland.

Keir Radnedge’s column (He was the editor of World Soccer, owned by IPC who also owned Shoot)focusing on the rest of the world, sees FIFA President Joao Havelange stating that he wants to see China host the 2002 World Cup finals, while Japan have stated they wish to bid to host this event.

Japan did eventually host the 2002 World Cup, but in a co-hosting arrangement with South Korea.

That week, it was also announced that Portugal are wishing to bid to host the 1998 World Cup, in a candidate list which also includes Switzerland, Morocco, France and Brazil.

France were awarded hosting rights to the competition, which they won, beating Brazil 3-0 in the final.

Portugal (Euro 2004) and Switzerland (co-hosting of Euro 2008) have since gone on to host further tournaments, while Brazil (2014 World Cup) and Morocco (2015 African Nations Cup) are scheduled to host tournaments withing the next five years.

Morocco would also have a failed bid to host the 2010 World Cup, losing out to South Africa.

The build-up to that summer’s World Cup continues with team previews of Italy, Romania, Holland, England and Scotland.

There is also a double page spread of Stuart Pearce proving how hard he is by driving a tank.

He admitted that he almost joined the army after leaving school, and blames not getting in on telling them that he had an application pending with his local police force.

In rumours, Chris Woods is going to sign for QPR and Pat Nevin is going to sign for Celtic. Neither transfer happened.

Jimmy Greaves letters page is an eye-opener as Richard Barlow from Heaton suggests that England should bring Ray Wilkins to the World Cup in Italy.

Julie Glover from Kent dishes it out to Greavsie over his prediction that Crystal Palace wouldn’t stand a chance against Liverpool in the FA Cup Semi-Final at Villa Park.

Paul Knauer from Avon writes in to complain about the Third and Fourth Division (That’s League One and League Two in modern currency) Play-Off Finals at Wembley as it devalues the prestige of the venue.

Jimmy Jones from Wallasey in Merseyside writes in to congratulate Kenny Dalglish on unearthing a world beater in Ronny Rosenthal.

Oh hindsight, what a wonderful thing.

In the latest league standings, Liverpool lead Aston Villa by two points with a game in hand, while Leeds, Sheffield United and Newcastle United are locked in a tight battle for promotion to Division One (That’s Premier League in modern currency)

In Scotland, Rangers are facing competition from Hearts and Aberdeen for the title, with Celtic 15 points behind in 4th.

The ad for the following week’s edition has the headline “STEWART HITS OUT”, referring to Tottenham Hotspur’s Paul Stewart.

Meanwhile, a double page spread is dedicated to an explosive interview with Charlie Nicholas, then of Aberdeen, declaring that he is leaving Pittodrie and that he is “Finished” with Scottish football.

He signed for the very much Scottish Celtic that summer.

The back page has an advert for a collection of figurines called “Sportstars”

Think of it as Corinthan figurines, but a bit bigger.

I had Bryan Robson, Neville Southall, Diego Maradona, Marco Van Basten, Peter Beardsley, Thomas Von Heeson, Mo Johnston, Ruud Gullit and Paul McStay.