Just under 18 hours after leaving Windsor Park, I was heading to another football match at a venue i’d never been to before …… Dixon Park in Ballyclare, to see Linfield take on Ards.
Strictly speaking, I had been past Dixon Park, i’d just never been to the ground for a match. Not going to lie, i’d been waiting for this game since the fixture list was announced, purely to visit another ground for the first time.
It was my third time for an “away” game against Ards, the other two being played in Bangor. I’d been to Castlereagh Park twice, to see Ards take on Sheffield Wednesday (friendly) and Auxerre (Inter Toto Cup)
Central location in the town, and able to stand behind whichever goal you wish. Not much to complain about off the field.
After a dreadful start, Linfield found themselves only four points off the top of the league, albeit in 10th due to a congested table where 8 teams were separated by 2 points. It goes without saying, that getting a winning run is vital.
Not getting into a winning run from the start, and falling so far behind cost Linfield, it’s important not to repeat that.
Linfield got off to a good start, when a Matthew Tipton run and cross was converted by Aaron Burns, back in the team after his red card last Saturday.
A routine win from there? Not quite. Ards got level soon after with a penalty and were deservedly level at half-time. Someone in the crowd summed it up perfectly when he shouted “Here, Linfield, you know the way Ards are playing football, maybe you should try that”
I wasn’t at the Warrenpoint game on Tuesday, but seemingly, it was similar today. Linfield got an early second-half goal and killed the game when in front.
There was no early second-half goal, and it showed.
For all the possession, Linfield never looked like getting a shot on goal, never mine and actual goal. Ards were comfortable at 1-1, hoping to try and nick a winner.
Eventually, with 20 minutes to go, Linfield went back in front when Matthew Tipton, on the verge of being subbed, headed home. Suddenly, the mood changed.
From there, there was only one winner, and an Aaron Burns header from a corner secured the points.
Even though Linfield won, there is a massive improvement needed in future weeks. Ironically, the performance in the 0-0 draw with Glentoran last week was far far better.
Four games unbeaten, climbing up the table. It looks good, but inreality, it was a hard watch today.