This wasn’t a match or that deserved anything as dramatic as a last minute, but thankfully it came for Linfield, being on the right side of a late goal this week. The result means that Europe is tantalisingly close for Linfield, but not quite job done. Still two more points to get.

An injury to Joel Cooper meant that he missed out, with Eetu Vertainen coming in.

Sat in the stand, ready for the start of the game, I was up on my feet, as there was a change in ends, with Linfield unusually attacking their own fans in the first-half instead of the second-half.

Linfield had a decent enough start, albeit having more of the ball rather than creating any clear opportunities.

The first real moment of note for Linfield came when Matthew Clarke fired the ball across goal, but nobody could get on the end of it.

Chris Shields then took possession, ran with it, and as nobody was bothering to tackle him, decided to have a go for goal. His effort was saved by Gareth Deane, with a Coleraine defender getting to the rebound before Kirk Millar.

Millar was then frustrated when he received the ball in space, but his low effort went just wide.

Matthew Clarke was next to be frustrated after Eetu Vertainen made space for himself in the box with some neat footwork and pulled it back to Matthew Clarke who fired over under pressure from Coleraine defenders.

A half where Linfield were the better team, but you couldn’t say it was outright dominance, far from it.

It was the same old story, a lot of the ball but you never felt that a goal was imminent.

That continued into the second-half. It was hard to see where a Linfield goal was going to come.

Eventually, Coleraine came into it, with Chris Johns being forced into making the best save of the match tipping over a shot from Andy Scott who had cut inside.

Having already lost Chris McKee to injury, replaced by Ethan Devine, Linfield made a double substitution with Kyle Lafferty and Jamie Mulgew coming on for Stephen Fallon.

There would soon be another injury blow for Linfield, with Kirk Millar being forced off.

Logically, Max Haygarth would have been a like for like option but David Healy sprung a surprise by bringing on Niall Quinn.

Turns out I know nothing about football as it was a change which brought rewards for Linfield within minutes.

Kyle Lafferty burst down the right win and crossed for Kyle McClean. Back to goal, instead of trying to make space to go for goal, McClean spotted Niall Quinn free and teed him up, Quinn finishing low to put 1-0 up.

Just as Linfield were contemplating a third successive draw, now they were looking at a win which puts them five clear with two games to go in the race for Europe.

They still had to see the game out, which they did without any scares.

It completed a remarkable run against Coleraine where they went a whole season (five games) without conceding a goal against them. Six games in a row if you include last season.

One ground they will (hopefully) be visiting next season will be Lakeland Park to take on Loughgall, who won promotion.

Hopefully, Linfield can get the points on the board to visit some European grounds at the start of next season.

Photo Album


It’s been a topsy-turvey season but at least it will be one that will have at least some silverware in the shape of the Bet McLean Cup.

For Coleraine, this was their third successive Final spread across four years due to the competition not taking place in 2020-2021.

Having won the competition in 2019 after an eleven year drought, Linfield weren’t in the mood to have a similar drought.

Kyle Lafferty was ineligible for this competition, so Chris McKee came into the starting eleven.

Linfield had more of the attacking play in the opening minutes of the game.

The best moment came from a run by Joel Cooper, working space for himself close to the byline but his cross was too close to Gareth Deane.

A good statement of intent though. If Cooper can get into the form we know he can get into, there was the potential for goals from Linfield.

Cooper would be frustrated soon after when his shot from outside the box went just wide.

Having survived Linfield being camped in their half, Coleraine began to have a bit of the ball in Linfield’s half.

There was a moment of worry for Linfield when Stephen O’Donnell headed towards goal, but the ball looped onto the roof of the net.

Coleraine fans were prematurely celebrating when Dean Jarvis headed wide at the far post.

I’m not even sure why they were celebrating, the ball didn’t even go goalwards. It hit an advertising hoarding and then rolled into the netting.

It was blatantly obvious what happened. I know that Coleraine fans would have had a relatively obstructed view of the incident, but it’s not as if it hit the side netting.

Bizarre. So bizarre, that Linfield fans hesitated before the inevitible taunts about the premature celebrations.

When they eventually did, they let Coleraine fans know about it.

Chris Johns was then forced into a save from a low effort from Lee Lynch. It didn’t feel that a Coleraine goal was imminent, but they were having far too many sights of Linfield’s goals. Linfield just had to make sure they saw this out.

Even at this early stage, it was looking like a game where the first goal would be crucial. Linfield had to make sure that Coleraine didn’t get it.

Jimmy Callacher was next to deny Coleraine, sticking a leg out to block a Coleraine shot, although it might have been going wide.

0-0 at half-time, but it wasn’t a bad 0-0. Coleraine had the slightly better attacking moments but it was mostly even.

As stated earlier, it was looking like a game that would only finish 1-0.

After a goalless first-half, there wasn’t long to wait for a goal in the second-half, and it came for Linfield.

Jamie Mulgrew snapped up a loose ball and played a first time cross to Chris McKee, whose simple pass played in Joel Cooper to fire home.

It was one of those where you knew it was going to be a goal as soon as the ball went to him.

Initially, I thought it was Joel Cooper passing to Chris McKee.

McKee was in the sort of position that Cooper usually occupies, and Cooper made the sort of run that McKee would make.

It did strike me as odd that Cooper was celebrating so much for an assist.

As the hour approached, Linfield got a penalty when Chris McKee was fouled as he looked to get on the end of a rogue backheader.

From where I was sat, it looked unclear. When you see the replays, it was a clear penalty.

If the first-half suggested that this was a game that was only going to have one goal in it, then there would be no way back for Coleraine if Linfield got to 2-0.

When someone as nervous and conservative as me says it is game over at 2-0, then it was definitely game over.

Chris Shields made no mistake, slotting home to make it 2-0.

But wait, Coleraine know better than anybody that 2-0 isn’t a definitive lead in the League Cup Final. They found that out the hard way last season when they lost 4-3 to Cliftonville after being 2-0 up.

Just when everything was going perfectly for Linfield, they suffered a blow when Eetu Vertainen pulled up chasing after a pass and had to be substituted.

Instead of a like for like substitution, Kyle McClean came on for him, to add an extra body into midfield. Linfield didn’t need to score, they just had to not concede two.

The next change was another striker leaving, but this time it was a like for like change, with Ethan Devine coming for Chris McKee. No late heroics required this time, and hopefully they wouldn’t be needed as the game progressed.

Coleraine’s best attacking moment in response to Linfield’s two goals was a free header from Matthew Shevlin on 86 minutes just over six yards out, which went over. He really should have scored.

If that had went in, there would have still been enough time for them to try and take the game to extra-time.

Coleraine simply had to make the most of whatever chances came their way, They were never going to get another one that glaring in the time that remained.

And so it proved, as Linfield comfortably held on to get the win, and land the League Cup for the first time since 2019.

Maybe not the number one ambition for the season, but if you win something you’ve only managed to win once in fifteen years, you’ll happily take it.

After an even first-half, it was obvious that this was a game where the first goal was vital. Once Linfield got it, there was only going to be one winner.

This meant that Linfield had kept four clean sheets in a row. Add in a trophy, that sounds like momentum, especially with two winnable games coming up to the split.

Adding a second to the cabinet might seem like a long shot, but if you keep winning, who knows where it can lead.

In the week after this game, there was the shock news that it was revealed that Ross Larkin’s absence has been due to a Brain Tumour. Thankfully, it appears that he is on the mend.

When the news was announced on Thursday, it was probably too late to arrange something for the upcoming Saturday game. Hopefully, with two home games to come in the split, there will be some sort of collection for an associated charity at one of those games.

Photo Album

2019 NIFL Cup Final


If this was to be the last time Linfield fans see their side play a League match at Windsor Park for a while, they signed off with a vital win in a must-win game. Well, they’re all must-win at this time of year.

In a season that has been so unpredictable, it might seem a bit bold, but this might have been the defeat that saw Coleraine become the biggest victims of the February Irish League Bloodbath.

Matthew Clarke, Daniel Finlayson and Kyle Lafferty came into Linfield’s starting eleven for a game which saw Coleraine have a lot of the ball but Linfield were better with it when they had it, although neither side created a clear opportunity.

Around the quarter hour, Linfield were given an opportunity to have their first clear opportunity of the game when they were awarded a penalty for a handball.

It was such an obvious decision, you were wondering if it actually happened. I’m not sure what the Coleraine defender was doing, the ball was so low.

The Linesman was right beside it an flagged immediately. Penalty to Linfield.

You know what that means, a goal for Chris Shields, which is what happened. A vital goal in a vital game.

Boosted by this goal, Linfield had a spell on top that they needed to make the most of.

Daniel Finlayson had a header go wide which was Linfield’s best moment during this spell of pressure.

Coleraine were getting a lot of joy out wide and firing in crosses. A lot of crosses. Luckily for Linfield, they had nobody on the end of them.

Andy Scott decided he fancied getting on the end of one, but his effort from close range was turned away by Chris Johns as the half neared it’s end.

As Linfield sat in the Changing Room plotting how to improve on their one goal lead, it would turn out that Chris Shields wouldn’t be the only one taking a penalty in front of The Kop.

A man from Preston on his Stag Weekend provided the half-time entertainment by taking a penalty. It wouldn’t be simple for him. He was spun around a few times before taking his shot.

If you care, he scored.

It would have been embarrassing if he had scored and Chris Shields had missed.

Linfield began the second-half with a period of pressure on the Coleraine goal.

That pressure was rewarded with a goal within five minutes when Eetu Vertainen finished from close range after a Matthew Clarke header was saved but landed perfectly for him.

I know I reel off cliches about needing another goal and all that, but deep down you knew that the points were in the bag as long as Linfield didn’t do anything stupid.

Going into this game, Coleraine had drawn with Glentoran, exited the Irish Cup on penalties to Cliftonville and then lost to Crusaders in recent weeks. It looked like Coleraine were a team that had “Hit the wall” and Linfield were ready to take advantage.

The destination of the three points could have been put beyond all doubt when Joel Cooper set up Daniel Finlayson from six yards out but he hit the bar. He really should have scored.

As the hour approached, Chris McKee came on for Eetu Vertainen.

Even though there wouldn’t be another match for ten days, it still cause a bit of concern as it was too early to give him a rest and too early to be tactical, especially when you are winning the game.

It was Jamie Mulgrew who almost extended Linfield’s lead with a shot that narrowly missed the target.

Linfield were managing to keep Coleraine at bay but they couldn’t afford to get complacent.

A header that went well wide of the post was the best that Coleraine could offer.

As the minutes ticked by, they looked less and less like getting a goal back that could make things uncomfortable for Linfield.

Max Haygarth and Cameron Palmer came on from the bench for Jamie Mulgrew and Joel Cooper.

Mulgrew was doing well to still be standing after being on the end of some robust challenges. Just a normal game for him.

As it turned out, Linfield won the game 2-0.

Elsewhere, Cliftonville beat Glentoran and Crusaders were held to a draw at Ballymena.

There is a bit of a gap opening up at the top but Linfield are hanging on in there.

Up next, after a ten day break due to being out of the Irish Cup is a trip to Larne.

Under usual circumstances, four points from two visits to Larne, like last season would be a decent return, but they really need to take six because of the gap and the lack of games left.

I have a suspicion that Cliftonville and Glentoran fans might be secretly cheering on Linfield in that match.

Defeat can’t even be thought about.

Photo Album


A new year, but Linfield and Coleraine still managing to draw with each other. That is now twelve draws in the last twenty-five League encounters.

With both teams going into this game on winning runs and keeping a lot of clean sheets, it wasn’t the most surprising of results. Despite gaining one point on Cliftonville, three on Larne and four over Glentoran on the last two matchdays, it was hard to see it that way from a Linfield perspective, as they failed to secure the three points that would have seen them go level with Larne at the top of the table.

Linfield had one change from Boxing Day, with Mike Newberry coming in for Jimmy Callacher. Not that surprising, as Callacher appeared to be struggling with injury during the second-half at The Oval last week.

The early minutes of the game saw Linfield in Coleraine’s half. Inside two minutes, Eetu Vertainen worked space to find Matthew Clarke, whose cross was headed just wide by Robbie McDaid.

There was more header related frustration as a run and cross from Jamie Mulgrew was headed just wide by Eetu Vertainen.

People around me were getting ready to celebrate until they realised that the ball had gone wide.

Vertainen then had a shot go wide as Linfield continued to endure a frustrating first-half.

Despite having a lot of the ball and a lot of attacking situations, Linfield weren’t creating any clear opportunities.

That was, until Daniel Finlayson got on the end of a free-kick, only to see his header superbly saved by Marty Gallagher.

0-0 at half-time, but no immediate need to panic.

Linfield were the better team but couldn’t convincingly say that they should be 1-0 up. They really needed to be more clinical when opportunities fell their way.

The second-half began with a flurry of set pieces for Linfield, but nothing came of it. The best that would be offered in the second-half would be an Eetu Vertainen header and a Robbie McDaid effort, both of which went wide.

David Healy then turned to his bench, bringing on Andrew Clarke and Chris McKee for Cameron Palmer and Robbie McDaid.

A goal for McKee now would feel every bit as big as his goal against Coleraine the last time they visited Windsor Park on the last day of last season.

Clarke would have a shot go just wide within minutes of coming on, though it felt like a speculative effort than an attempt to score.

Joel Cooper then made space from himself but his shot went agonisingly wide.

It was obvious very early in the game that this was a match that was destined to finish 0-0.

With each passing minute. It became even more obvious. No matter how hard Linfield tried.

A lucky bounce saw the ball fall perfectly for Eetu Vertainen but that was the only lucky bounce that fell Linfield’s way as his shot was saved by the keeper’s legs.

Coleraine did manage to have an attack, with a free-kick from Eamon Fyfe being easily saved by Chris Johns.

His late goal at The Oval bought Eetu Vertainen some extra time on the pitch, but there wouldn’t be any more opportunities for him to score another late winner.

Even though Niall Quinn (a welcome return) and Ethan Devine were unused in the bench as attacking options, they could have brought on Lionel Messi and it wouldn’t have made a difference.

It was one of those days, a frustrating afternoon.

Linfield were the better team, but couldn’t convincingly say that they should have been outright winners

As I said earlier in the season, if somebody told you that the last twenty meetings between Coleraine and Linfield had finished 0-0, you would believe it because it sounds believable.

You feel like you could just write off the remaining two League games as 0-0 draws.

And the remaining three against Cliftonville.

Coincidentally, Linfield’s next League game, at Solitude.

Not quite must-win but certainly do not lose.

There’s not point on pushing to get this close to the top of the league just to get pulled away again.

But what a message that would send out to the rest of the League, to win on a rival’s home turf and reach the top.

But first, it’s Warrenpoint Town at home in the Irish Cup.

One game at a time. It’s a busy month. So many games, so many competitions. It’s hard to keep track.

The last two months have seen two Cup Finals reached (one of which is this month) and the gap at the top get closer and closer.

It is frustrating that this run includes three 0-0 draws against Top 6 teams, meaning that all the other Top 6 teams have come away from Windsor Park with something this season.

Although recently, four have them have come away without a goal, just like a few other teams that Linfield have faced over the past two and a bit months.

Considering that Linfield conceded nine goals in eight days in October, that is most welcome.

Now to get it right at the other end.

Photo Album


October was a busy month, right from the very start, heading to Dungannon on the first day of the month to see Linfield get a win at Stangmore Park.

That was followed a few days later by another away day, to a very wet Wilgar Park to see Linfield grind out a 1-0 win over Dundela.

The following night, it was the Ulster Hall to see Beabadoobee in concert.

Back on the road the following Saturday to see Linfield draw with Coleraine.

Then it was back to Ulster Hall to see Paul Weller.

Two days after that, it was Linfield v Glentoran, the less said of that the better.

The following day was a lot more enjoyable, making the most of a football free Saturday to check out Murlough Bay.

Over the next seven days came two Linfield home matches, against Glenavon and Larne.

The following week, I was off to Manchester, my first visit to see Erik Ten Hag’s United in the flesh, against Sheriff Tiraspol.

While I was there, I got some photos from a stroll along a canal, some Street Art (of course) and a walk up Hartshead Pike.

The month ended with a trip to Newry to see Linfield get some much needed three points.

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Dundela v Linfield

Beabadoobee live at Ulster Hall

Beabadoobee live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Coleraine v Linfield

Paul Weller live at Ulster Hall

Paul Weller live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Linfield v Glentoran

Murlough Bay Nature Reserve

Murlough Bay Nature Reserve Photo Album

Linfield v Glenavon

Linfield v Larne

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester Canal Walk

Manchester Canal Walk Photo Album

Manchester United v Sheriff Tiraspol

Manchester Untied v Sheriff Tiraspol Photo Album

Hartshead Pike

Hartshead Pike Photo Album

Newry City v Linfield


April began with a football free Saturday, so I headed to Scrabo Country Park, got lucky with the weather and got lots of nice photos.

The rest of the month was all about football, the next two weekends saw me attend Linfield’s matches against Cliftonville and Glentoran.

With two Public Holidays for Easter, I decided to go for walks up Cregagh Glen and then up Cavehill.

That was then followed by Linfield’s matches against Crusaders, Larne and Coleraine.

Just hours after seeing Linfield winning the League against Coleraine, I headed to Custom House Square to see Echo and the Bunnymen, my first concert of 2022.

Scrabo Country Park

Scrabo Country Park Photo Album

Cliftonville v Linfield

Linfield v Glentoran

Cregagh Glen/Lisnabreeny Hill

Cregagh Glen/Lisnabreeny Hill Photo Album


Cavehill Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Larne

Linfield v Coleraine

Linfield v Coleraine Photo Album

Echo and the Bunnymen live at Custom Hosue Square

Echo and the Bunnymen live at Custom House Square Photo Album


2022 began with a trip to Dungannon on New Year’s Day to see Linfield win 6-1 at Stangmore Park.

On the Bank Holiday Monday that followed, I could have had a lie-in, but I decided to head up Cavehill instead.

I then visited a new football stadium for the first time, very exciting, going to see Harland and Wolff Welders take on Annagh United at Blanchflower Park, which had opened a few months earlier, this was my first chance to visit this ground.

The rest of the month, was Linfield matches, against Larne, Ballymena United, Glenavon, Cliftonville and Coleraine.

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield


Cavehill Photo Album

Harland and Wolff Welders v Annagh United

Harland and Wolff Welders v Annagh United Photo Album

Larne v Linfield

Linfield v Ballymena United

Linfield v Glenavon

Cliftonville v Linfield

Coleraine v Linfield


October is probably too early for games to be described as “must-win”, but two defeats and two postponements meant that Linfield had a lot of catching up to do.

Three defeats, including two in their last three League games meant that Coleraine also had a lot of catching up to do.

Naturally, in a game neither side could afford to lose, they cancelled each other out and drew 0-0.

There are some football stats you could make up and people would believe it.

If I told you that the last twenty meetings between Coleraine and Linfield had finished 0-0, you would believe it. It’s just one of those fixtures.

This is a game that is convenient for me to travel by train.

Due to the Belfast to Derry Line only having an hourly service, it means you have a bit of a dilemma going to the game.

Leave at 1.10pm and you are cutting it fine for kick-off, especially as Coleraine have moved the away entrances to be further away from the Train Station.

I got the 11.10am train, which was 20 minutes late.

That would have been problematic if I had got the later train and experienced such a delay and missed part of the game.

In retrospect, that probably would have been a good thing. This was not a good match.

Coleraine had the first attacking moment of the game when a shot from Conor McDermott was easily saved.

Linfield’s first attacking moment of note came when a free-kick from Joel Cooper went just wide.

Coleraine’s next big attacking moment saw Matthew Shevlin stretching to get on the end of a cross to no success, while Stephen Fallon headed over for Linfield from a good position under pressure from Robbie McDaid, probably too eager to get a goal for himself.

Even at this early stage, it was hard to see where a goal was going to come for either team. This game had 0-0 written all over it.

Chris Johns was spending his afternoon catching crosses and not doing much else..

As the minutes ticked down, Stephen Fallon had a volleyed effort go just wide while Sam Roscoe had a header go well wide.

The most glaring question was, where were the subs?

Too little too late. The game was there to be one, but Linfield didn’t take the risk.

Attacking their own fans, if they had wave after wave of attacks, Coleraine would have capitulated.

I get that 4-5-1 has it’s merits in some games, but when the ground work is done, you have to go for it.

In the end, the verdict was the same for both teams, comfortable in defence but not enough up front.

This was the game where I learnt what a “Staggered egress” is. They couldn’t stop announcing it over the tannoy during the final 20 minutes.

Seemingly, Coleraine fans were kept behind to allow Linfield fans to leave.

Problem was, when you see how far the away exits are from Coleraine Train Station, it was all a bit pointless.

One of those announcements was being made as Linfield had an attacking free-kick with seconds remaining of injury time

It was all set up perfectly for Linfield to score and the away fans to start chanting “We’re not going home”.

Of course that was never going to happen, they couldn’t get home quick enough after a rather forgettable afternoon of football.

Photo Album


This is it, the title run-in.

I was there, getting photos of Linfield’s last five games of the season, against Cliftonville, Glentoran, Crusaders, Larne and Coleraine.

It had a happy ending, as Linfield won the League. I managed to get some photos of the celebrations.

Cliftonville v Linfield

Linfield v Glentoran

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Larne

Linfield v Coleraine

Linfield v Coleraine Photo Album


January 2022 began with a trip to a very wet Stangmore Park to see Linfield put six past Dungannon Swifts.

I then treated myself the following week with a trip to a match as a neutral, and to a ground I had never visited before.

Blanchflower Park was the destination, my first opportunity to check it out since it opened, to see Harland and Wolff Welders take on Annagh United in the Irish Cup.

Three days after that, it was off to Seaview for the County Antrim Shield Final between Linfield and Larne.

It was back to Windsor Park on the next two Saturdays for Linfield’s home matches against Ballymena United and Glenavon.

The month finished with two away trips for Linfield, to Cliftonville and Coleraine.

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Harland and Wolff Welders v Annagh United

Harland and Wolff Welders v Annagh United Photo Album

Larne v Linfield

Linfield v Ballymena United

Linfield v Glenavon

Cliftonville v Linfield

Coleraine v Linfield