A very comfortable afternoon, I didn’t know what to do in the final minutes. Usually at that point when Ballymena United come to Windsor Park, Linfield are nervously holding on for a one goal win.
There were a few changes to Linfield’s starting eleven. The one that stood out was a first start for Max Haygarth after his goalscoring substitute cameo against Glenavon.
Chris McKee also came in, replacing the suspended Joel Cooper.
Linfield were camped in Ballymena’s half from kick-off.
Andrew Clarke was agonisingly unable to get on the end of a cross, despite stretching out a very long leg.
There wasn’t long to wait for a Linfield opener, when Eetu Vertainen intercepted a cross aimed for Max Haygarth, just as Haygarth was readying himself to shoot, which looked like it would have been a certain goal.
Instead, Vertainen took the ball, created space for himself and fired home. Just as well as he would have been getting a lot of questions if he didn’t score.
After that goal, Linfield continued to be camped in Ballymena’s half.
However, it would be Chris Johns making the next save of the game, low down after an opportunity presented by a defensive miskick.
The scare woke Linfield back into life, and they were 2-0 up soon afterwards when Andrew Clarke was played through by Chris McKee and his low cross was finished from close range by Eetu Vertainen.
At 1-0, Ballymena might have found a way back into the game, but that was never going to happen at 2-0. The points were as good as in the bag.
You could have been forgiven for being a bit confused as to who Linfield were playing
Ballymena’s all orange/peach away kit is a bit Glenavon. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one confused as to who Linfield were playing.
Chris McKee would be frustrated twice in a matter of seconds.
First when his fierce shot was saved by Sean O’Neill, with Andrew Clarke unable to follow up. The play that followed saw a cross come to him, but his volley went just past the post.
Despite the quick flurry of frustrations, it was a quality performance from McKee, having been brought in for the suspended Joel Cooper.
2-0 at half-time, Linfield were in a commanding lead. Just one more goal would make sure of it.
Thirty seconds was all it took for Linfield to get that goal, when Vertainen finished a cross from six yards out to complete his hat-trick, his second for the club.
If there was any doubt before, the points were now in the bag for Linfield.
Unsurprisingly, the game didn’t have the same intensity, especially with a third successive midweek fixture list on the horizon.
Linfield took the opportunity to make some substitutions, with Cameron Palmer, Conor Pepper and Ethan Devine all coming on.
They were then followed by Niall Quinn and a debut for Ryan McKay, recently signed from Dundela.
Linfield’s best chance of making it 4-0 came when Daniel Finlayson got a foot on the end of a free-kick, but his effort was saved by Sean O’Neill.
Three was enough. A routine win for Linfield and an opportunity to rest players ahead of a midweek trip to Seaview.
It was a result that kept up David Jeffrey and Ballymena United’s awful recent record at Windsor Park.
This was Linfield’s fifteenth successive home League win for Linfield over Ballymena United.
For David Jeffrey, the last time he won a match at Windsor Park (Don’t even bring up the 2020 Irish Cup Semi-Final against Coleraine, that was a draw) was when he was manager of Linfield.
Since then, it is two draws and sixteen defeats at a venue he used to always win at.
On the weekend of this game, I decided to book to go away for my birthday in February. Not football specific but would be nice to catch a game if I could.
I had the misfortune to be born during School Half Term, so flight prices were extortionate.
Not that they are much better any other time. Something to bear in mind the next time you hear someone from the industry crying about how they are having such a tough time.
Oh it definitely is Covid and Ukraine and nothing to do with charging £40 for hold luggage.
The only place with reasonably priced flights was Gatwick, so I booked to head to Brighton for a few days.
It wasn’t a football trip, but I later realised i’ll be there during the FA Cup 5th Round.
Brighton got through, but got drawn away. Of course.
But Brighton can be put on the backseat for a few weeks. My next trip will be to Seaview.