PHOTO OF THE SEASON : 2017-2018

I hope you’ve enjoyed the month by month look back at the 2017-2018. The less said about what happened on the pitch, the better.

I took a lot of photos, so i’ve rounded up my favourites.

Feel free to vote for your favourite.

PLATT LANE

This was taken in June last year when The Oval was being used for filming a movie about Bert Trautmann, and was decorated to look like Maine Road. I went to get some photos.

I specifically wanted one with 1950s Maine Road and 2017 Oval both in the same shot, and this was my favourite from that day.

CLANDEBOYE

You have roadworks to thank for this photo.

I was held up heading to Ards v Linfield and missed the first couple of minutes.

This was the scene that greeted me as I entered, a crowd with their eyes fixated on the pitch on a warm summer evening.

GARRETT

I like the composition of this photo.

You may be surprised that Robert Garrett is attacking and not defending, he had just kept the ball in play and was now being surrounded by two Dungannon defenders.

PHOTOGRAPHER

I just like the composition of this shot. Taken during Spartans v Linfield in Scottish Challenge Cup.

RAINBOW

Me being arty farty. I love trying to get pictures of rainbows over football grounds. Taken at half-time during Ballinamallard v Linfield in November. A rare time that afternoon when it wasn’t raining.

HAUGHEY

Same match, everyone huddled in the stand to avoid the rain. I like the composition of this shot.

FLEGS

Taken during the Northern Ireland v Switzerland match in November, green and white flags were left out before the game for fans to wave. I decided to take a shot as they were being waved and got lucky.

CELEBRATION

Everything fell into place for this shot, the sky, a well worked goal, and the whole team coming together to celebrate.

GOAL

I like this shot because it captures the emotion of a last minute equaliser as part of a late comeback that never looked like coming.

TIPTON

I was heading to the exit for a quick getaway (in my defence, it was an away game on a weeknight) and stumbled upon this framing as Matthew Tipton looked on as Warrenpoint took on Linfield.

CAMPION

Taken during Cliftonville v Linfield in February, the guy in the red coat makes it makes it with his celebration as Linfield players celebrate in front of their fans.

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PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : MARCH

Football watching in March got off to a delayed start, due to Linfield’s Irish Cup tie against Cliftonville being postponed due to snow.

I had to wait a week to get to a match, Linfield’s home game against Carrick Rangers.

The following midweek, was that postponed Irish Cup tie against Cliftonville, resulting in a defeat for Linfield.

It didn’t get better the rest of the month as Linfield had to come from behind to get draws against Glentoran and Ballinamallard United.

At least the month ended on a high note, beaming with parental pride (sort of) as Paul Smyth came off he bench to score the winner for Northern Ireland against South Korea on his debut.

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Linfield v Cliftonville

Linfield v Glentoran

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Northern Ireland v South Korea

Northern Ireland v South Korea Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : NOVEMBER

November’s football watching began with a long trip to Fermanagh to see Linfield beat Ballinamallard 6-0 in the pouring rain.

Up next, was Northern Ireland’s World Cup Play-Off against Switzerland. The following day, I headed to Ballymena to see Linfield take on Ballymena, giving me two disappointing results on successive days.

Results took an upturn in the final weeks of the month, as I headed to see Linfield beat the top two in the League, Coleraine and Glenavon, in successive weeks.

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Switzerland

Northern Ireland v Switzerland Photo Album

Ballymena United v Linfield

Linfield v Coleraine

Glenavon v Linfield

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : SEPTEMBER

September’s football watching began for me in Edinburgh, seeing Linfield take on Spartans in the Scottish Challenge Cup. That was followed two days later with World Cup action, as Northern Ireland took on Czech Republic at Windsor Park.

After that, it was all about Irish League action, taking in Linfield’s matches against Glentoran, Crusaders, Ballinamallard and Cliftonville.

Spartans v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Czech Republic

Northern Ireland v Czech Republic Photo Album

Linfield v Glentoran

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Ballinamallard United

Cliftonville v Linfield

BALLINAMALLARD UNITED 2-2 LINFIELD 23.3.2018

At this same weekend in 2016 and 2017, Linfield faced Ballinamallard and ground out a tense 2-1 win on each occasion.

Those two times, they were going for the title. This time around, it was 3rd place and possible automatic qualification for the UEFA Cup.

Linfield were aided in the build-up to this on the Tuesday night when Cliftonville lost 2-1 at home to Ballymena, meaning that Linfield had a four point lead over Cliftonville.

This match was supposed to be on the Saturday, but it was brought forward to the Friday night due to Northern Ireland playing South Korea in a friendly.

That has been covered previously on this blog and will be touched on again later.

I had to take some excess carry over Annual Leave and chose this day before this game was rescheduled. I was originally intending to go and see Paloma Faith at The Odyssey. I decided to give that as miss as the concert was all seater, which was a bit wank. She doesn’t do music that you can enjoy sitting down.

So that was the motivation for Linfield, at least be a more entertaining option than Paloma Faith.

There were two changes for Linfield. One was enforced, with Andrew Mitchell coming in for the injured Jamie Mulgrew, and Achille Campion coming in for Kurtis Byrne.

Linfield began putting pressure on the Ballinamallard goal. Achille Campion was played in but couldn’t control the ball, but did enough to set up Niall Quinn, whose shot was blocked by a defender.

Quinn was denied again as he looked to head a cross into an empty net, but a Ballinamallard defender got the ball before him and denied him.

Linfield couldn’t keep the pressure up and Ballinamallard came more into the game. Alex Moore was forced into a save from a long range shot by Stephen O’Flynn.

Moore had a few dodgy moments from goal kicks, going straight out of play, as if he was putting the ball out for a line out. I suppose that’s what happens when you go to a rugby school.

There was also some confusion in defence by not making himself available for backpasses.

There were no complaints about his shotstopping, Linfield were giving him enough opportunities to showcase his shotstopping.

He did manage to hit a Copper on the head with one of his clearances.

It was the only thing of note a Linfield player did in the first-half.

In the early minutes of the second-half, Linfield began to have more attacking cohesion. Niall Quinn went agonisingly wide. Andrew Waterworth put the ball in the back of the net from the rebound. Unfortunately, it was after the ball bounced back into play.

48 minutes, Linfield had finally turned up.

Naturally, the way this season had been going, Ballinamallard were going to score, which they did when a cross was headed in by Ryan Curran.

Linfield responded with some good play down the left which saw a low shot from Matthew Clarke be saved, as Stephen Lowry came off the bench to replace Andrew Mitchell.

The next big moment from a Linfield player came from Alex Moore, as Sean Noble ran through on goal only to see his shot saved by Moore.

Clarke was then replaced by Kurtis Byrne as Linfield went in search of an equaliser.

That came when Mark Stafford headed home from a free-kick to make it 1-1, his first goal against his former club. With twenty minutes to go, there was still time for Linfield to push on and get a winner.

The opportunity for that came soon afterwards when Linfield got a penalty, awarded for a handball by Stephen O’Flynn. It was soft, but we’ll happily take it.

Andrew Waterworth’s last two penalties had been chipped in, Panenka style. This was not really the time for such a thing. Thankfully, he didn’t, blasting it low into the back of the net to put Linfield 2-1 up.

Kurtis Byrne then had a low shot tipped around the post as they looked to make it 3-1 and secure the points, while Jimmy Callacher saw a header bounce over the bar, just as he did against Carrick Rangers a few weeks previously.

Sandwiched inbetween that, was a red card for Ballinamallard substitute Joshua McIlwaine for a late tackle on Niall Quinn just a few minutes after coming on.

Everything was falling into place for Linfield.

Or so we thought, as 91 minutes approached, a sloppy pass from Robert Garrett went to Ryan Curran, who played in Sean Noble, who made it 2-2.

I was at the other end, and it was clear Noble was going to score as soon as he got the ball. One pass was all it took from Ballinamallard, it was yet another bad goal to concede.

You don’t want to single players out, but that’s the third time this season Garrett has lost possession late in the game that has led to a goal.

Points lost to Cliftonville (September), Coleraine (October), Warrenpoint (December), Glentoran (December) and now Ballinamallard to last minute goals.

It can’t be bad luck, it can’t just be coincidence. There’s something wrong this season that Linfield can’t see games out, or push all the way to the end.

To make it worse, Garrett was under no pressure when he had the ball.

There was still time for Linfield to win the game, but Ballinamallard held out. It got even worse when results from elsewhere came through.

Glenavon lost 3-2 to Dungannon Swifts while Cliftonville beat Ards 3-0.

Linfield are now three points behind 3rd place Glenavon and two points ahead of 5th place Cliftonville.

Even though Linfield closed the gap to 3rd, this was two points dropped. Linfield should be comfortably in 3rd the amount of points that Glenavon have dropped in the last two months.

As stated in the Glentoran write-up, it pains me to say that Cliftonville are going to finish 3rd. They have the momentum. Even when they managed to lose to Ballymena on the Tuesday before this, they still ended the week in a better position. It’s all coming up Milhouse for them.

Linfield are five goals better than Cliftonville and five worse than Glenavon in terms of goal difference.

If Linfield beat Glenavon over Easter, they will go level on points with them, and will only need to make up three goals over four games in order to finish 3rd.

If they beat them by three goals, they’ll jump into 3rd.

I don’t think the players realise the importance of getting 3rd, as it could possibly get us automatically into Europe (Irish Cup results dependent) meaning we get to skip the UEFA Cup Play-Offs.

That may not be what we wanted at the start of the season, but that’s where we are. Time to focus minds.

There was doubt in the week leading up to this game as to wether this game was going ahead.

On Sunday night, rumours circulated that the game would be postponed to enable Ballinamallard to play Ballymena instead if 6th was still to be decided, to allow Glentoran and Ballymena to play their 33rd game simultaneously, against each other.

This was backed up by Linfield having to put out a statement to clarify the situation on Monday.

The fact that NIFL even considered this option was ridiculous.

Ballymena United v Ballinamallard needing to be rearranged is a fallout from the saga of Ballymena United v Cliftonville in the NIFL Cup. I bet you thought this was long resolved.

Ballymena United v Ballinamallard United was due to be played on Saturday 10th February, but was postponed so that Ballymena could play Cliftonville instead.

The new date for Ballymena v Ballinamallard was Tuesday 13th March, but it was postponed again to accommodate Ballymena’s postponed Irish Cup tie against Larne.

I spotted it at the time, that Ballymena will have to play their 33rd game after the scheduled date. Did nobody at NIFL spot it?

Glentoran and Ballymena United have been scrapping it out for 6th place all season. Did nobody at NIFL not spot that it might need to be decided by their meeting on Matchday 33?

Even more ridiculous, was the expectation that Ballymena would have to get arrangements in place for a home game at three days notice, as well as Ballinamallard players having to change their arrangements from a home match to an away match on a working day.

And lastly, there are the fans of Glentoran, Ballymena United and Ballinamallard United. It’s always the fans who are lastly.

It got even more ridiculous. The proposed date suggested for a potential rearrangement of Ballinamallard United v Linfield was Monday 26th March.

Surely, if it had to be rearranged, they could have used Saturday 31st March as both sides will have a free Saturday due to being out of the Irish Cup.

And on that note, I know the Irish Cup Semi-Finals are on the same weekend as last year, but surely someone would have noticed it was Easter Saturday?

Why could they not be played on Saturday 7th April? It would still leave a four week turnaround between the Semi-Final and Final.

In 2015, the Irish Cup Semi-Finals were moved out of their traditional weekend as it fell on Easter, so it could have been done.

Why are clubs not involved in the Irish Cup not given the opportunity to play their Easter Tuesday games on the Saturday instead?

Warrenpoint are playing Dungannon in a rearranged game, so it could have been done.

Linfield’s post split fixture list is complete, and will be (All in April, Home games in CAPITALS)

04 Glenavon
07 BALLYMENA UNITED
14 Crusaders
21 COLERAINE
28 CLIFTONVILLE

Now that Ballymena finished 6th, they would be going in on a decent run of form, and could do us a favour by getting something against Cliftonville, who will then face Crusaders or Coleraine on April 7th.

We still need to get results to help ourselves.

Ironically, Linfield closed the gap on Glenavon in 3rd. You would have taken that at the start of the night. It was the manner of this result though. We didn’t have many chances, but we took them, only to present Ballinamallard on when they didn’t look like getting back into the game.

How many times this season have we said “We didn’t look like drawing/losing ….” but we did?

There’s ten days until the next match, and this result is going to stink the place out until then.

Photo Album

2017 IN PICTURES – NOVEMBER 2017

November began with a long trip to Fermanagh to see Linfield take on Ballinamallard. It was raining goals and raining rain as Linfield won 6-0.

From going West, it was going East that was next on my agenda, as Northern Ireland took on Switzerland with the aim of going to Russia. They lost 1-0.

The following day, it was a trip to Ballymena, to see Linfield lose 2-1.

The following Friday, the entertainment was of a musical variety, as The Killers came to The Odyssey.

The photos continued on a musical theme, getting photos of a Run DMC mural in Belfast, as well as some Street Art beside Apache.

It was back to football, seeing Linfield beat Coleraine and Glenavon.

The last day of the month saw me cycle to Lisburn to get some Street art photos, including a mural of Top Cat.

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Switzerland

Northern Ireland v Switzerland Photo Album

Ballymena United v Linfield

The Killers live at The Odyssey

The Killers live at The Odyssey Photo Album

Run DMC/Apache Mural

Run DMC Mural Photo Album

Apache Mural Photo Album

Linfield v Coleraine

Glenavon v Linfield

Lisburn Street Art

Lisburn Street Art Photo Album

2017 IN PICTURES – SEPTEMBER

September 2017 began with a road trip, and a long one at that, to Edinburgh, to see Linfield take on Spartans in the Scottish Challenge Cup.

Two days later, it was another football match with an international feel, an actual international, as Northern Ireland took on Czech Republic at Windsor Park.

The following weekend was busy, taking in Ryan Adams at Ulster Hall and then Linfield’s match against Glentoran.

There was more football to follow, taking in Linfield’s matches against Crusaders and Ballinamallard.

The following weekend was football free but not photo free, as I was out capturing Culture Night, and Street Art painted as part of Hit The North.

The month ended with a trip to Solitude to see Linfield take on Cliftonville. The less said about which, the better.

Spartans v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Czech Republic

Northern Ireland v Czech Republic Photo Album

Ryan Adams live at Ulster Hall

Ryan Adams live at Ulster Hall

Linfield v Glentoran

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Ballinamallard United

Culture Night 2017

Culture Night 2017 Photo Album

Hit The North 2017

Hit The North 2017 Photo Album

Cliftonville v Linfield

2017 IN PICTURES – MARCH

March 2017 began for me with a trip to Seaview to see Linfield beat Crusaders in an Irish Cup tie. That was followed a few days later by my first concert of 2017, seeing Blossoms at The Limelight.

It was then back to football for a Monday night match between Linfield and Cliftonville, and then returning to Windsor Park the following Saturday to see Linfield take on Ards.

I was then out on the trail of Street Art, getting photos of a mural of a Dancer in Belfast City Centre.

The following weekend, I headed to Fermanagh to see Linfield get a late win against Ballinamallard.

I then headed out again in search of Street art, getting photographs of a new mural of East Belfast legends.

The month ended with a trip to Windsor Park to see Northern Ireland take on Norway in a World Cup Qualifier.

Crusaders v Linfield

Blossoms live at The Limelight

Blossoms live at The Limelight Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Linfield v Ards

The Dancer

The Dancer Photo Album

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

East Belfast Wall Of Legends

East Belfast Wall Of Legends Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Norway

Northern Ireland v Norway Photo Album

BALLINAMALLARD UNITED 0-6 LINFIELD 4.11.2017

Linfield were looking to bounce back after ……

Wait a minute, that was last week’s script. After returning to winning ways against Ards last weekend, Linfield returned to losing ways 48 hours later, against Ards in the County Antrim Shield.

It kinda took the Shheeeeeyyyyyyinnnnne off the evening, when I saw the final score inbetween songs at the Liam Gallagher concert.

Once again, Linfield were looking to bounce back after losing their last game. Ballinamallard have doing that all season. 11 defeats out of 13 suggests they haven’t done it very well.

Linfield fans will have been glad to wake up on Wednesday morning to discover that it was no longer October. It’s been an awful month in recent years, which has all been noted here. A stat as to how grim it is appeared on Twitter regarding the number of points lost and cup competitions exited.

Things are so bad for Linfield at the moment, they arrived in Fermanagh and weren’t met by the usual sunshine that greets them when they play at Ballinamallard.

Both teams were in a similar situation. They may have points to make up on those immediately above them, but the situation is retrievable. Neither side could let the gap get any bigger.

There was one ray of sunshine for Linfield fans arriving at Ferney Park, not in the sky but on the teamsheet, as Linfield lined-up 442 and with only two centre midfielders. Finally, the unsuccessful and restrictive 451/433 had been binned.

It was immediately effective, with Linfield straight on the attack and putting pressure on the Ballinamallard goal. Crosses were coming in and players were almost getting on the end of it. You could tell that a goal was coming.

That goal did come when a quick free-kick saw Jordan Stewart and Matthew Clarke going up against one Ballinamallard full-back, with Clarke being played in to cross for Mark Haughey to head home from close range. Linfield had the early goal they desired.

The two previous meetings between the two sides this season have seen 4-0 and 3-0 wins for Linfield. However, the half-time score in both those games have been 1-0 and 0-0. Linfield have had to wait until the second-half to secure the win. They needed to get a second goal.

The pressure on the Ballinamallard goal continued, and the second goal came when Kirk Millar’s header from a Jordan Stewart cross looped in. I was behind the goal and muttered “Unlucky” to myself, as I thought it was going over.

There were more chances for Linfield, and a third goal came when Andrew Waterworth headed home from close range after a Josh Robinson shot was saved.

It was to be Robinson’s last involvement in the game as he was sent-off for kicking out in a melee in the goal caused by Jason McCartney rugby tackled him on the goalline. Robinson could have no complaints, McCartney was very lucky to only receive a yellow card.

No matter how the game has gone so far, when an opposition player is sent-off, you always fancy your chances of getting something.

Ballinamallard had a chance from close range that went over as the half neared it’s end. Linfield were able to see out the half and go in at 3-0 up.

David Healy reacted to the red card by bringing on Andrew Mitchell for Louis Rooney.

I know i’ve complained about Healy being too defensive in recent weeks, but the situation justified it. Linfield didn’t needed to score and they didn’t want to concede an early second-half goal and give Ballinamallard any encouragement that they could get something from this game.

In truth, Mitchell probably did more in the first-half than when he was on the pitch in the second-half.

Linfield started the second-half on the attack, you wouldn’t have noticed they were down to ten men.

Just like in the first-half, there was an early header from Mark Haughey, this time to make it 4-0. If there was any doubt about the result, it had now gone, the points were going to Windsor Park, Linfield’s first away win since September 22nd, and (specific statistic alert) first away League win on a Saturday since August 19th.

By now, Linfield fans were huddled into the Vilage Stand, or any other form of shelter they could find as the rain became torrential. There was never any danger of the match being abandoned as the pitch was holding up well. The match, metaphorically, was already over.

Chris Casement and Mark Stafford were both denied as Linfield looked to make it 5-0. Mark Haughey slid in while trying to get on the end of a low cross. He ended up in the back of the net. The ball did not. Today would not be his day for a hat-trick.

Jordan Stewart would be the man to make it 5-0, firing home from close range after a Kirk Millar cross.

That would be his last involvement in the game, as he was substituted, with Brandon Adams coming on.

By this point, Jamie Mulgrew had already been replaced by Stephen Lowry as a precaution.

Roy Carroll made a save from a Ciaran Martyn header as Linfield aimed to secure a first ever winning clean sheet in the League at Ballinamallard.

After recent defensive calamities, it was important to start keeping clean sheets. It is the first part of the recovery process of Linfield’s season.

There was time for one more goal for Linfield as Andrew Waterworth made it 6-0. Today was his first League goals of the season. Hopefully, the first and second of many. We’ll need it to be.

As well as the thee points, this was also a timely boost for Linfield’s goal difference. Coleraine, Glenavon and Crusaders have a goal difference of 22 in comparison to Linfield’s 19. The priority is clawing back the points deficit, but having goal difference as a back-up won’t hurt.

Elsewhere today, Cliftonville won, so they are still breathing down our necks, while Crusaders won, meaning they are just slightly above us.

There was points droppage further ahead as Glenavon and Coleraine drew with each other.

As a result, Linfield are now 11 points off the top but with a game in hand, and only 3 points behind Glenavon.

Next weekend, Coleraine and Crusaders aren’t in League action. The following Saturday, Coleraine travel to Windsor Park. The incentive is there, win the next two League matches and the gap from the top is only five points. There would still be a lot of work to do, but suddenly Coleraine would be feeling a lot of pressure.

Elsewhere, in the Steel and Sons Cup, Linfield Swifts advanced to Semi-Finals. I’m slightly worried we might get to the final, on Christmas Day.

I’m keeping an eye on FA Cup 1st Round games this weekend. Why? 2nd Round replays are scheduled for the Tuesday night I am in Manchester to see United take on Bournemouth on the Wednesday.

Of the North-West/Greater Manchester teams, Nantwich and Oldham went out while Rochdale, Crewe and Wigan went through. Bury play tomorrow. I’m hoping for away draws for North-West teams and they go to a replay.

Next up for me, is Northern Ireland v Switzerland, and hopefully a mood of national celebration by the time Linfield head to Ballymena on Friday night.

Photo Album

LINFIELD 4-0 BALLINAMALLARD UNITED 16.9.2017

Five wins from their opening five games didn’t automatically mean that Linfield would be Champions. By the same analysis, defeat at Seaview on Tuesday didn’t mean that Linfield’s title hopes were over.

Despite that, Ballinamallard’s visit to Windsor Park today was a game they had to win. Firstly, to avoid Tuesday’s result being considered the start of a slump rather than a blip, and most importantly, to keep up with the sides at the top of the League, especially with Coleraine, Crusaders and Glenavon all having home games they were expected to win.

Linfield fans arriving at Windsor Park today won’t be returning there for a Linfield match until 21st October due to a run of six successive away matches, including a first League meeting of the season with Coleraine.

Unsurprisingly, there was a lot of early Linfield pressure, it was Attack v Defence, and Linfield were doing all the attacking.

Louis Rooney dispossessed a defender and cut in, only to have his shot saved by Ballinamallard’s keeper. Chris Casement had a shot saved while Jordan Stewart curled a shot wide. It looked like a matter of time before Linfield scored.

On twelve minutes, Windsor Park got a shock. Not a Ballinamallard goal, but a player being booked in the first fifteen minutes of a game, as Neil Brennan was booked for a cynical foul on Jamie Mulgrew. Apparantly, referees are allowed to do that. Let’s hope it becomes a regular thing when teams try to cyncially foul in the opening minutes of a game.

Ballinamallard did have a chance when a free-kick from a wide angle at the edge of the box which was easily saved by Roy Carroll. That was all they offered in the first-half.

It was then Aaron Burns turn to be frustrated as he dragged his shot wide after being played through.

Burns made up for it soon after by playing in Jordan Stewart, whose shot went through the keeper’s legs to put Linfield 1-0 up.

It wasn’t as lucrative as is last goal against La Fiorita, but it felt just as important, giving Linfield the breakthrough against opposition designed to frustrate.

The pressure from Linfield continued, with Mark Haughey and Louis Rooney missing from close range immei=diately after each other, when one of them should have scored.

As the half neared it’s end, it looked like Linfield were going to get an opportunity to get that second goal they needed when Aaron Burns was brought down, but no penalty was given. It may have only been a slight touch, but it was still a foul. It was the second week in a row Burns had been denied a clear penalty.

With the game still in the balance, Ballinamallard came out and felt confident of getting a point. In the early minutes of the second-half, Ryan Curran got clear of a defender but his shot was saved by Carroll.

Ballinamallard even started doing fancy flicks as they looked for an equaliser. Linfield knew if they got the second goal, that would be the points. While the game was in the balance, Ballinamallard always felt they would get something.

Josh Robinson was lucky to only get a yellow for a foul as a Ballinamallard player raced to goal. The fact the foul was on the halfway line worked in his favour.

Just after the hour, Jordan Stewart put an end to the tension by converting a cross to make it 2-0 and secure the points.

A few minutes later, he was played through and made it 3-0, completing his hat-trick.

With the game won, David Healy turned to his bench, giving gametime to Brandon Adams and Ryan Strain.

Neither of them could get on the scoresheet, but Mark Haughey did, heading home from close range to make it 4-0.

One pointless observation from this match was that this was the first League game that Linfield didn’t do a “Tottenham Corner”.

As mentioned earlier, Windsor Park will be a foreign country to Linfield fans over the next few weeks due to six successive away games coming up.

The first of those is a County Antrim Shield game against Ballyclare on Tuesday before a League trip to Warrenpoint on Friday.

Playing on Friday allows Linfield the opportunity to put pressure on Coleraine ahead of their match on Saturday.

A 2 goal win will put Linfield top while a 4-3 win will have both sides level with identical goals for and goal difference.

After that, a trip to Solitude. Linfield might do mid 90s Tottenham corners, but Cliftonville do mid 90s Tottenham disregard for defending.

I’d be very confident that our eight man midfield can cut off the supply to their four man attack.

Elsewhere today, Coleraine and Glenavon unsurprisingly won, while Crusaders could only draw at home to Ards.

That results lessens the damage of Tuesday’s result, only slightly, as we’ve only lost one point (across two games) this week to Crusaders instead of three.

Next weekend, Coleraine travel to The Oval, while Crusaders do so the following Monday (It’s like on Sky Sports).

Glentoran’s (relatively) good start to the season could be beneficial to Linfield, as they could help derail Linfield’s rivals. Obviously, i’m hoping for draws. Come on, you don’t seriously think i’ll want them to win?

I’m not going to Warrenpoint next Friday as i’m going to Culture Night instead. I missed it last year and I don’t want to miss it two years in a row. We’re at Warrenpoint in January, so I won’t be missing out.

I’ll have my lucky scarf in my right hand pocket as per superstition.

I’m hoping to travel to Tannadice for the match against Dundee United but it’s looking unlikely due to the prices of flights out of Glasgow on the Sunday night.

It’s a pity, as I wanted to see the DC Thomson statues in the City Centre (I always get DC Comics and DC Thompson mixed up. Now that would be a comic book crossover I could get into) as well as seeing Tannadice and Den’s Park so close together in the flesh.

That game allows Linfield the opportunity to play at a ground that has hosted a European Final. However, come Wednesday, Linfield could be playing home matches at a ground which is set to host a European Final.

Windsor Park has applied to host the European Super Cup Final in August 2019. The host venue will be confirmed on Wednesday.

UEFA have published a report of the proposed venues on their website. You can find it here. Skip to page 58.

In short, the report for Windsor Park states :

The IFA proposes a smoke free stadium (Ha ha ha. I’ll believe that when I see it. Trust me, i’d love it, but recent internationals make me cynical)

No free transport from City Centre to Windsor Park for fans

More than the required amount of wheelchair spaces needed.

It meets UEFA’s requirement for supporter-toilet ratio. Yes, such a thing exists.

Food facilities for matchday staff is small.

Any VIP area for May McFetridge and Julian Simmons to hang out with Ruud Gullit and Lothar Mattheus would have to be built outside the ground.

Not enough space for TV studios.

Somebody will have to “have a word” regarding lifting restrictions on late night flights after the game.

Number of hotels for fans and teams are adequate.

Belfast is a “Straightforward city”. UEFA’s words, not mine. I’ve no idea what that means.

Anyway, forget about 2019, let’s just concentrating on racking up points prior to the visit to Coleraine on October 14th, especially being three points behind and not playing in the League on October 7th while Coleraine are in action.

We’ll need every point we can get between now and then.

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