CRUSADERS 0-1 LINFIELD 19.1.2019

Three was the magic number prior to kick-off at Seaview.

Obviously, three points on offer, with Linfield having a three point lead over Crusaders, looking for their third win of the season over Crusaders, in the first of three games between the sides in eighteen days.

The League table had a familiar theme to the previous meetings, with Linfield looking to extend their lead over Crusaders.

In August, Linfield held a two point lead, became a five point lead at full-time. That five point lead was still in place by the second meeting in December, but was eight by full-time.

By January, it was now three points, but Linfield had a game in hand, due to Crusaders going on a six game winning run since then.

You could argue that run is a bit deceptive. Four of those wins have come against teams in the bottom six, and of those four wins, three of them have been by one goal. They’ve been scraping by.

A draw wouldn’t have been the worst result, but a win represented an opportunity to pull clear of a title rival and have some daylight. Crusaders wouldn’t be out of the title race with a defeat, but you’d have to put across a very convincing argument as to why they were in it.

Crusaders first attack saw a series of attempted shots blocked by various Linfield bodies. Not surprising given the clean sheet run in the League that Linfield are currently on. Crusaders were the last team in the League to score against Linfield. That would still be the case regardless of what happened at Seaview, but Linfield weren’t in the mood for that stat to be updated.

Linfield’s first attack was a lot more effective. A long ball seemed to cause confusion in Crusaders defence, allowing Jordan Stewart an opportunity to nip in and lob the ball over the onrushing Gerard Doherty to put Linfield 1-0 up.

Doherty was one of three former Derry City players making their home debut for a Crusaders side which had Hale but no Pace. There’s almost as many ex Derry players than ex Linfield players. You could do a Venn Diagram of the ex Derry players and ex Linfield players in their squad, and put Philip Lowry and Rory Patterson in the middle.

The first goal was important in this fixture. That isn’t clichéd pundit speak, there is statistics to back it up. The last time a team scoring first at Seaview failed to win was September 2014. The last time a team scored first and lost was April 2014. Linfield last scored first and lost there in January 2013. This is a fixture where the first goal has been key in recent years.

It also kept up a random statistic that all of Linfield’s goals this season against Crusaders have been scored by players whose names begin with J – Joel Cooper (2), Jamie Mulgrew, Jimmy Callacher, Josh Robinson and Jordan Stewart (2)

Hopefully in the upcoming meetings in February, we’ll have goalscoring contributions from Jiall Quinn, Jeven Fallon, Jirk Millar and Jandrew Waterworth.

Cooper and Stewart were getting a lot of joy when combining up front as Linfield took control of the game. It felt like they had fifteen players on the pitch. Any time that Crusaders had an opportunity to get the ball forward, it was usually intercepted by Jamie Mulgrew.

Andrew Waterworth had a header saved by Doherty as Linfield looked to convert their dominance into a two goal lead.

Every time a Linfield player had the ball, they always seemed to have options to pass to and space to operate in. On some occasions, they had both.

Paul Heatley curled wide with Crusaders best chance of the first-half. It was their only chance of note in the half. All their other attempts on goal were speculative efforts which never troubled Roy Carroll.

In the previous two meetings, Linfield got early second-half goals to secure the points, in August going from 1-0 to 2-0, and in December from 2-0 to 4-0. If they repeated it here, it would surely secure the points.

They didn’t get it, but there was no real response from Crusaders. All they offered was an overhit cross from Ross Clarke which was tipped over by Roy Carroll when it looked like it might sneak in.

The only moment of worry came when Mark Stafford intercepted a cross and got the ball stuck between his legs with Crusaders players swarming around him, but he was able to clear at the expense of a corner.

Stafford had come on as a sub for Jimmy Callacher, who went off injured, showing the value of the squad, having players who can fill in when needed.

It would be expected that Daniel Kearns and/or Michael O’Connor would be introduced in the final stages, so it wasn’t ideal having to use a sub so early as there wouldn’t be much room for manoeuvre regarding bringing players on from the bench.

By this point, a quick free-kick set up an opportunity for Joel Cooper, but he fired wide from a tight angle.

Kirk Millar then tried his luck from a tight angle (Think Marco Van Basten v Soviet Union) but was narrowly wide.

Crusaders resorted to trying to wind up Linfield’s players, but only succeeded in winding themselves up, losing their discipline and racking up yellow cards.

Howard Beverland managing to pick up the stupidest yellow card for obstruction, looking to see where the player was and blocking him off, right in the eyesight of the referee. He got booked the second time he was penalised for it.

With a one goal lead, there was always going to be an element of nerves in the final moments, but in truth, Crusaders never looked like scoring, as Linfield held on for the 1-0 win.

That result puts them six points clear of Crusaders with a game in hand, and maintains a three point lead over Ballymena, who won 2-1 at Glenavon.

Ballymena dropping points would have been great, but it does mean that we can officially rule Glenavon out of the title race, although the ten point gap at kick-off made it generous to consider them still in it.

Up next, is a trip to Newry on Tuesday night. Curiously, due to Institute’s involvement in the North-West Cup Final, Ballymena’s game against Institute has been postponed.

Three points is a must. We can go nine clear of Crusaders and six clear of Ballymena, laying down the challenge to them to catch us if they can. Curiously, Crusaders and Ards are the only teams in the League who don’t have outstanding games to play.

After that, is Glentoran at home on Sky the following Monday night. That was worked out quite well for us, spreading the games around having come through a busy December period and only having one free midweek in that time.

Personally, it also blocks off 29th January as a date for the County Antrim Shield Final, which is good for me as i’ll be in England.

That game, will be against Crusaders, who we’ll face in the Irish Cup three days before. Nothing to fear, as we’ve proved three times this season. There are too many teams in the Irish League who are afraid of Crusaders.

Those games are ticketed, most games are at the moment. Thankfully, we’ve had quite a few Saturday home games for supporters to get tickets. Also, a Ticketmaster outlet has opened up in the Tourist Information Centre in Belfast City Centre if that’s more convenient for you.

There is also the possibility of a Two Ronnies-esque situation at the Ticket Office.

Can I have a ticket of the match? What match? The Crusaders match. Crusaders at Seaview? Crusaders at home? Crusaders at Ballymena? Or the match against Ballymena? Ummmmm

Since I last wrote, there’s been a few ins and outs. Mostly outs, which isn’t surprising given the size of our squad.

Eammon Scannell, Ryan Strain and Jonathan Smith have all left on loan. Not that surprising in the case of Smith. I wouldn’t be surprised if Brandon Doyle joined him going out on loan.

Kyle McClean came in from St Johnstone, and was an unused sub for this game. I don’t know much about him.

That incoming meant that Robert Garrett was allowed to leave, heading to Glenavon. It wasn’t really a surprise to see him leave, but I thought that wouldn’t happen until the Summer. I’m slightly surprised we didn’t “Play the system” and loan him rather than letting him leave, as this would block him from playing against us this season.

It’s absolutely certain if Glenavon were a lot closer to us in the table, there’s not a hope in hell we’d be so accommodating.

Garrett will be facing us on Friday 8th March live on BBC 2, as the latest TV games have been announced. Two Glenavon matches on BBC to go with another one of their games on Sky next month. They might as well have their own channel.

The draw for the FA Cup 4th Round has confirmed that United’s match against Burnley will be on the Tuesday night. As I now have the Wednesday free, i’m tempted to do a day trip to Sheffield, having last been there in 2010.

I was in London on the weekend of the 4th Round last year and went to Millwall v Rochdale. I picked the wrong year.

If I went this year, I could do Arsenal v Man United, day trip to Brighton for Brighton v West Brom and then Palace v Spurs.

I’m actually thinking of doing a London/Brighton double header in July 2020, over the 12th Holidays, catch a pre-season game and soak up the atmosphere of the European Championship Final.

Pre-Season 2020 can wait, the 2018-2019 season is far from resolved.

Photo Album

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2018 IN PICTURES – DECEMBER (SO FAR ….)

December began with a top of the table clash on the first day, but not the result I wanted as Linfield lost to Ballymena United.

The following Saturday was a lot better, as Linfield thrashed Crusaders 4-1.

No football the following Saturday, meant a gap in photo adventures, before seeing Ash at The Limelight, followed by Linfield’s match against Glenavon.

Of course, there are still two more football matches for me this month, Linfield’s games against Glentoran (26th) and Cliftonville (29th).

Hope you’ve enjopyed my photographic look back at 2018, here’s to more in 2019.

Already booked for 2019 – Chvrches, Razorlight and a short break in Dublin.

Ballymena United v Linfield

Linfield v Crusaders

Ash live at The Limelight

Ash live at The Limelight Photo Album

Linfield v Glenavon

2018 IN PICTURES – AUGUST

August 2018 was a busy month, and it began at Mourneview Park for the start of the 2018-2019 season as Linfield beat Glenavon 1-0.

The following weekend, I headed to Custom House Square to see George Ezra in concert. That was followed by a day trip to Bangor where I squeezed in some Street Art photos, including a mural of John Lydon.

It was then back to the football as I went to see Edinburgh City take on Albion Rovers in the Scottish Challenge Cup while on a short break in Edinburgh. I also managed to get some Street Art photos while in Edinburgh.

Upon my return to Belfast, was a trip to Seaview to see Linfield take on Crusaders.

The next few days were spent at Custom House Square, seeing Kasabian, Turin Brakes and Travis in concert.

The following Saturday was a trip to Solitude to see Linfield take on Cliftonville.

Glenavon v Linfield

George Ezra live at Custom House Square

George Ezra live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Bangor Street Art

Bangor Street Art Photo Album

Edinburgh City v Albion Rovers

Edinburgh City v Albion Rovers Photo Album

Edinburgh Street Art

Edinburgh Street Art Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Kasabian live at Custom House Square

Kasabian live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Turin Brakes live at Custom House Square

Turin Brakes live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Travis live at Custom House Square

Travis live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Cliftonville v Linfield

LINFIELD 4-1 CRUSADERS 8.12.2018

This winner of this match was never going to automatically go on a title charge, and the loser was never going to be out of the title race. However, it is Crusaders who are trying to take that positive spin, as Linfield put in a display that was more exciting than a branch of Primark opening.

At one point this season, Linfield’s points lead over Crusaders was in double figures, but dropped points over the past eight weeks had seen that reduced to five, giving Crusaders a sniff at the title when Linfield should have been out of sight. A win here, and they would be two points behind Linfield and right into the mix.

Linfield were straight on the attack, winning a corner inside the first minute that Josh Robinson was unable to get on the end of an repeat his feat of scoring in the first minute of this fixture, as he did last season.

Meanwhile, Chris Casement had a free-kick go over while Kirk Millar and Jordan Stewart were unable to get on the end of a Jamie Mulgrew cross.

Eventually, Linfield took the lead when Stephen Fallon played in Joel Cooper in acres of space. Crusaders defenders backed off him, which only invited him to shoot, doing so, and putting Linfield 1-0 up via a deflection.

Just like on Crusaders last visit to Windsor Park, Linfield got an early goal and were on top. That day, they couldn’t get a second goal and let Crusaders away with it. Not today, they were thirsty for more.

A few minutes later, another attack saw Jordan Stewart run at Crusaders defence. He had options left and right but decided to shoot, his effort deflecting out for a corner.

That resulting corner saw Jimmy Callacher head home to put Linfield 2-0 up, just as he did against Crusaders at Windsor Park on New Year’s Day 2016.

The uncertainty in Crusaders defence not being helped by announcing the signing of a new goalkeeper on Thursday night, with the current occupant knowing he has a month of games to play before being replace in January. It clearly had an effect. Not that Linfield were worried by that.

When Crusaders hit crossfield balls, they went out for a throw. When Linfield hit crossfield balls, they would find somebody, usually Joel Cooper. Kyle Owens, playing despite being sent-off last week (I assume his red card was successful in appeal, or it has been appealed in order to stall the ban) being dragged out wide, and looking as comfortable as you’d expect a big lump playing at full-back to look.

Paul Heatley had a speculative shot go wide. That was as close as Crusaders got in the first-half, barring a shot which looked to be going over, but dropped down and hot the top of the net.

Andrew Waterworth chased a through ball, getting to the ball ahead of a defender, but his quick shot hit the keeper and went out for a corner.

Linfield knew if they got a third, it would secure the points by half-time, but they just couldn’t get it. Just as importantly, they kept Crusaders out, the main significant difference between this game and the game against Cliftonville a few weeks back.

Even if it was 2-1, Linfield still would have left the pitch confident of getting the points.

Crusaders were all over the place defensively. A couple of throw-ins from Sean Ward saw Crusaders losing the ball in areas where you don’t want to lose the ball. Every time there was a break in play, Crusaders defenders were having an impromptu conference.

At half-time, Billy Joe Burns and Philip Lowry came off the bench as Crusaders looked to get a goal back. All they offered in the early minutes was a shot from Paul Heatley which was easily saved by Roy Carroll.

Soon after, Linfield got the third when Crusaders couldn’t clear a free-kick, and it fell for Josh Robinson to smash home.

A few minutes later, Joel Cooper nutmegged Sean Ward and played in Jordan Stewart. If it was me, I would have smashed it in, but decided to go around one defender and the keeper before firing into the empty net.

It was like a cover version of his goal against La Fiorita last season.

What stands out the more you watch the video of the goal, is that Billy Joe Burns gives up and doesn’t chase back as soon as the ball goes to Stewart. If he did, he might have been able to stop him from scoring, or put him under pressure.

His season, like his Linfield career, has taken a while to get going. Now to keep this up.

Crusaders pulled a goal back when Philip Lowry scored from close range after a corner. You never got the feeling that it was going to be the start of a comeback, and so it proved, as Linfield held out for the 4-1 win.

It would have been nice to get a first clean sheet in nine games though.

They almost won 5-1 when a counter attack saw substitute Michael O’Connor unable to get on the end of a cross.

Appropriately, the match ended with Linfield keeping the ball for the final minute of injury time and Crusaders unable to get it. It was like that the entire game.

Not only does this win put Linfield eight points clear of Crusaders, they went six points clear of Glenavon (albeit with a game more played). They still remain behind Ballymena United. With home games for Ballymena against Institute and Newry City between now and Boxing Day, you’d expect their winning run to continue. And it gave their goal difference a boost.

You can’t really rule out a team until Linfield go ten points clear of them. Linfield only have that gap from Coleraine, but Coleraine have a game in hand.

The truth is, Linfield are looking up and have a cushion from the teams below them.

Next Saturday, sees a trip to Newry, which has been pushed back to Saturday from Friday night due to Linfield’s involvement in the NIFL Cup.

You have to say fair play to Newry regarding that, as they would have been entitled (and probably tempted) to tell Linfield to clear off when asked to move the game. The 1pm start gives Linfield a chance to put points on the board early in the day and put the pressure on their rivals as they enter the pitch for their 3pm kick-offs.

Before that, is a trip to Stangmore Park in the NIFL Cup with a place in the final up or grabs. Feeling pessimistic about this, Dungannon are due one against us. I’m not saying we are awful in this competition, but it was so long ago since we won it, Glenn Ferguson scored the winner.

Talking of negative optimism, Glentoran haven’t won in eight matches (seven in the League).

The thought of them going into Boxing Day without a win in nine fills me with dread. You know what will happen.

Since my last blog, the fixtures for Euro 2020 Qualifiers have been announced.

Estonia and Belarus at home first. That’ll do. Then the return games in June 2019. We simply need to have twelve points on board before we face Holland and Germany.

The first games against those two, in September and October, are standalone fixtures. Unfortunately, UEFA rules state that teams must play a friendly on free dates, which is inconvenient, as Northern Ireland would be better off concentrating on that one Qualifier and not have a friendly in the way.

I imagine there will be a friendly arranged before the June double header in order to stop players going stale after so long without a game for their clubs. A random game in a random English ground, like Qatar in Crewe would be great.

The away game in Holland will be in Rotterdam. I’ve been to Rotterdam, and listened to Rotterdam by The Beautiful South on my ipod as I entered. I went to a match there, between Excelsior Rotterdam and VVV Venlo, which even had a player eligible for Northern Ireland playing. I visited De Kuip to have a look around, though there was no match on.

The home match against Holland will be on Saturday 16th November at 7.45pm, so it will mean Linfield will be away that weekend, though the date is still to be confirmed. Previously, when Northern Ireland have been at home on a Saturday night, there have been 3pm games that day. Hopefully, Linfield won’t have a long trip that day if they do play.

Another draw this week was the Irish Cup. You always want a lower league team away. We got one at home. I would have been all over Ballyclare away, even though my last visit there was a defeat in 2014.

And finally, the game against Glentoran on the 26th is live on Sky. That’s 26th January, and it’s now been moved to Monday 28th January. I fly out to Manchester the next day. Good job it’s not an early morning flight.

That will be Linfield’s second appearance on Sky Sports this season. Let’s hope for a third one in mid February.

Photo Album

2018 IN PICTURES – APRIL

April 2018 began for me with a trip to Smithfield, to snap a new mural commemorating Smithfield Market.

Two days later, on Easter Tuesday, it was a trip to Lurgan for me to see Linfield take on Glenavon.

It was a month dominated by football, as I went to Linfield’s matches against Ballymena, Crusaders, Coleraine and Cliftonville.

The month ended as it started, with me checking out some Street Art, well, mostly the now finished garden at CS Lewis Square which featured a tribute to famous East Belfast people and landmarks.

Smithfield

Smithfield Photo Album

Glenavon v Linfield

Linfield v Ballymena United

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Coleraine

Linfield v Cliftonville

East Belfast Wall Of Fame

East Belfast Wall Of Fame Photo Album

CRUSADERS 0-2 LINFIELD 18.8.2018

Do not be afraid of Crusaders. Do not be afraid of Crusaders. Do not be afraid of Crusaders.

There are too many teams in this League who are afraid of Crusaders. Shamefully, last season, Linfield were one of them.

The opening two games of 2018-2019 suggested that Crusaders were there for the taking. In the opening game, they blew a 2-0 lead against Ards and needed a late goal to secure a 4-2 win. That was followed by a 2-2 draw at home to Ballymena United. A team full of players approaching or in their 30s who are leaking goals. There was nothing for Linfield to fear.

Especially so, as they had won their opening two games without conceding a goal.

Despite that, this was not going to be an unchanged Linfield team, now that Jamie Mulgrew was back from suspension.

There’s a case to be made for resting Jamie Mulgrew against last season’s bottom five (Dungannon, Ards, Warrenpoint, Institute and Newry City) considering his age and the fact he is returning from injury, picking and choosing his matches.

Even if he is picking and choosing his matches, this is a match where he would play if it.

It was expected that Niall Quinn or Andrew Mitchell would miss out, but it was Kirk Millar who did, with Quinn moving out left.

Just like at Lurgan two weeks previously, there was a sizeable away support there to cheer their team on.

It was Crusaders who had the first chance of the game when Ross Clarke drifted past four players before shooting straight at Roy Carroll. He really should have scored, considering he had a clear strike at goal and a choice of sides to go to.

Having survived that, Linfield came more into the game, spending a lot of time in Crusaders half and winning a succession of corners.

Nothing came of them but Crusaders weren’t fully dealing with them. Not once did Sean O’Neill catch one, his punches not fully clearing the danger, giving Linfield a second ball to fight for and keep the attack alive.

It was a first-half littered with Crusaders yellow cards. Oh the joy of seeing a ref prepared to not tolerate their tactical fouling, and a Linfield team prepared to stand up to them. Crusaders didn’t know how to respond. They lost their discipline, and handing the game to Linfield. Linfield players knew this, which is why they were so keen at times to stop Josh Robinson getting involved. They had Crusaders right where they wanted them, and they weren’t going to give up this advantage easily.

Chris Morgan on Radio Ulster seemed to be offended by Linfield players surrounding the referee. He may have a point that it’s not nice to see, but teams freely do it against Linfield. Too many times last season, Linfield were outsmarted by stupid teams. Crusaders players were being told in no uncertain terms that they wouldn’t be kicking anybody off the field today.

Joel Cooper was Linfield’s main attacking threat in the first-half, having Linfield’s two main shots at goal.

The only moment of worry that Linfield had was when Jimmy Callacher had to head out a cross in the six yard box out for a corner.

On 35 minutes, it was Linfield who get the breakthrough when some neat passing out the right, where Linfield were getting a lot of joy through the half, saw Chris Casement cross low for Joel Cooper to finish from close range, a reversal of the previous week against Institute when Cooper crossed low for Casement to score.

Cooper was everywhere when Linfield attacked, and Crusaders didn’t know how to handle him. They didn’t know which way he was going to go. Thankfully, Linfield’s players did, and wether he went left or right, there was always someone available for a pass.

Linfield began the second-half, now attacking their own fans, on the attack, with Chris Casement having a free-kick saved. Again, it was another punch by Sean O’Neill.

The second goal wasn’t long in coming when Joel Cooper got possession on the right wing, cut inside before playing a defence splitting pass.

I was on the opposite side and thought initially that it was Niall Quinn, but it was actually Jamie Mulgrew, who made no mistake to make it 2-0.

It wasn’t quite the three points in the bag, but it was hard to see Crusaders coming back from this.

Crusaders response was a Jordan Owens shot which went over and into the stand. A Crusaders supporter threw the ball away from Roy Caroll who was waiting to take a goal kick. The supporter celebrated as Carroll was able to take his time, and kill any hopes Crusaders had of getting some momentum and getting back into the game. They really aren’t the brightest.

In fact, the closest that Crusaders came was from a sliced clearance by Matthew Clarke hitting the bar. At no point did Linfield look troubled.

If any team looked likely to get the next goal, it was Linfield, with Michael O’Connor, on as a substitute for Andrew Waterworth, getting in behind Crusaders defence only to see his low shot saved, while a deflected cross from Daniel Kearns almost snuck in.

Joel Cooper was replaced by Kirk Millar, a bit surprising, as Andrew Mitchell was getting bandaged up for the umpteenth time. A few minutes later, Mitchell couldn’t carry on any longer, being replaced by Robert Garrett, who was able to help Linfield see the game out with no fuss.

This result sent Linfield five points clear of Crusaders. Nothing to get too excited about, they were five points clear of Crusaders at this stage in 2015.

The game after this would be a trip to Cliftonville. A win would give Linfield an eight point lead over them. The matchday after that sees Crusaders face Coleraine. With one of them dropping points, the game against Ards is a must-win. That is followed by a game against Warrenpoint while Crusaders and Coleraine are playing in the Scottish Challenge Cup. There is a great opportunity to get some momentum and pull clear of rivals.

Linfield players celebrated this win in dignified fashion, there was no throwing of food in Nandos.

Later that night, David Healy made a guest appearance in the Panto taking place at Windsor Park that night, content that his side landed a massive punch, but not quite a knock-out blow.

Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : APRIL/MAY

April’s football watching began with a trip to Mourneview Park on Easter Tuesday to see Linfield grind out a 3-2 win away to Glenavon.

That was followed on the Saturday afterwards by going to see Linfield beat Ballymena United 2-0.

Good start to the month, but that was as good as it got, as Linfield could only managed one point from their next three games against Crusaders, Coleraine and Cliftonville, which would cause them to eventually miss out on European football.

There was only one match for me in May, a trip to Old Trafford to see Manchester United take on Watford.

And that, was the 2017-2018 over for me.

Here’s to more football and photos in 2018-2019.

Glenavon v Linfield

Linfield v Ballymena United

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Coleraine

Linfield v Cliftonville

Manchester United v Watford

Manchester United v Watford Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : DECEMBER

December’s football watching began with a trip to Windsor Park, a place where I would spend four of the five Saturdays during the month, to see Linfield scrape a 1-0 win over Dungannon Swifts.

Postponements would then frustrate my football watching, as Linfield’s trip to Carrick was postponed, as was the FA Cup Replay between Crewe Alexandra and Blackburn Rovers, which I had planned on attending.

The reason for this was that I was in North-West England to see Manchester United take on AFC Bournemouth, my first visit to Old Trafford of the season.

I then headed to Windsor Park on successive Saturdays to see Linfield take on Warrenpoint Town and Cliftonville.

That was then followed by a Boxing Day trip to The Oval, the less said about that, the better.

After that, it was back to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Crusaders. The less said about that, the better.

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Manchester Untied v AFC Bournemouth

Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth Photo Album

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Linfield v Cliftonville

Glentoran v Linfield

Linfield v Crusaders

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : OCTOBER

October’s football watching began with Northern Ireland taking on Germany in a World Cup Qualifier.

That was then followed by taking in Linfield’s defeats against Coleraine and Crusaders.

Thankfully, the month ended a bit better, as I went to see Linfield beat Ards

Northern Ireland v Germany

Northern Ireland v Germany Photo Album

Coleraine v Linfield

Linfield v Crusaders

Linfield v Ards

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