MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : FOOTBALL MONTHLY – SEPTEMBER 1992

Steve McManaman is mocked up as a superhero called McMana Man for the cover image, as he is described as English football’s superhero for the 1990s.

Ian Wright is interviewed and has modest ambitions for 92/93 – to get in the England team and to win the Premier League and FA Cup with Arsenal, predicting that he can make the most of the new backpass rule which stops goalkeepers picking the ball up from a backpass.

Steve McManaman is the subject of a double page feature, predicting he will become Liverpool’s greatest ever player, as well as tributes from the likes of Alan Hansen, Bruce Grobbelaar and Bradley Allen.

Don Howe is the subject of a profile, having just joined Chelsea as a coach, and his happy to be in that role rather than being a manager.

In world news, Marseille’s new signing Rudi Voeller believes that he can score the goals to win the European Cup for the French club.

Meanwhile, Manchester United have rejected a bid from Derby County to sign Bryan Robson, with the Rams hoping he would have had the same effect on them in the 90s as a similarly aged Dave Mackay did in the 1970s.

The forthcoming Premier League season is previewed, with all the Football Monthly journalists predicting that Arsenal will be champions in 1993.

Leeds United get a four page profile as they get set to defend their league title, looking at their success over the past four years under Howard Wilkinson.

The new Non League season is previewed, with Wycombe Wanderers being predicted to win promotion to the Football League.

Manchester City manager Peter Reid is interviewed, stating he stands by all his decisions, with City hoping to launch a title bid having come 5th in 1992.

In Scotland, the return of Trevor Steven to Rangers makes them favourites to win the title in 1993.

In competitions, you could win with Hummel, but you had a choice of a pair of boots or a replica shirt of either Benfica, Denmark or Real Madrid.

The preview of the new Irish League season predicts Glentoran to pip Linfield to the title and Ards to win the Irish Cup. Ards lost the Final while Linfield won the league.

In Republic of Ireland, there are concerns that easier access could affect attendances at domestic games, while Bohemians are predicted to win the league.

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LINFIELD 3-1 NEWRY CITY 13.10.2018

With it raining all day, it was certainly the weather for staying indoors with your feet up. That’s what Glenavon were doing, though that postponement was due to international call-ups.

This presented an opportunity for Linfield to go top of the League with a win over Newry City.

This match also represented a milestone point in the season, the eleventh game when everybody has played each other once. Well, that should have been the case, with two games postponed today (one due to international call-ups, and another due to Coleraine’s involvement in the Scottish Challenge Cup) and Ballymena United v Glentoran being postponed a few weeks ago, only half of the teams in the League will have reached that milestone today.

It was an unchanged starting eleven for Linfield, with Chris Casement having to make do with a place on the bench after injury. Thankfully unchanged, as it meant that Joel Cooper was fit to start having been substituted in the early minutes of the second-half at The Oval on Monday night.

This was Newry’s first League visit to Windsor Park since February 2011, though they did visit in the Irish Cup last season. Amazingly, there were two players starting this game who started that day – Robert Garrett for Linfield and Andy Coleman for Newry, both in their second spell at their respective clubs.

There would have been some doing a double take when the teams came out, with a clash of socks saw them wearing blue sock, and looking very much like HSV Hamburg.

Newry, unsurprisingly, were spending the opening minutes defending, and it was nor surprise when Linfield took the lead on 10 minutes when Jimmy Callacher headed home from a corner.

As in most games he plays, Michael O’Connor was involved in a lot of Linfield’s attacks, the closest he came to scoring was when he was just unable to get on the end of a low Joel Cooper cross.

Eventually, Newry began to show themselves as an attacking force, with Jimmy Callacher being forced to make a last gasp tackle to deny Newry, while Roy Carroll made a spectacular save from a long range shot.

It was perhaps apt, in the week that Alan Blayney announced his retirement, it was almost a cover version of a save that Alan Blayney made in this fixture in October 2010.

Daniel Kearns headed over as Linfield chased a 2-0 lead, which eventually came when Jimmy Callacher headed home again.

It was the third time he had scored two in a game, having done so against Ards in 2016 and against Warrenpoint earlier this year.

Linfield were in the mood to go in at half-time 3-0 up, with Joel Cooper hitting the post before having a low shot saved by Coleman, who would later stretch out an arm from close range to deny Michael O’Connor.

In that incident, O’Connor collided with a goalpost, but was thankfully able to continue.

The second-half continued with more Linfield dominance, with Michael O’Connor controlled but fired over, while a nice move saw Robert Garrett hit the bar and go out for a goal kick.

In search of a hat-trick, Jimmy Callacher had a penalty appeal turned down when he appeared to be grappled. The fallout from that incident saw Josh Robinson pick up a yellow card for dissent. It was the third yellow card this season he has picked up that could easily have been avoided. This is an issue that needs to be addressed by him, or else he will pick up a one game ban, and might not get back into the team.

The third goal that Linfield needed didn’t come, and suddenly they would need it, as a bout of pinball in the penalty area saw a Kevin McArdle shot be deflected past Roy Carroll.

Newry, were suddenly back in the game.

Before you could say that Newry were back in the game, they were back out of the game.

The goal jolted Linfield back to life, going straight on the attack, winning a corner, which was headed home by you know who.

Having sense that a hat-trick was on, Callacher was like a man possessed every time Linfield got an attacking set piece. Nobody was going to deny him the matchball.

That was the three points secured, as Linfield went top of the League, albeit that Glenavon have a game in hand.

After the game, it turned out the two sides could be meeting again next month, as the draw for the Quarter-Finals of the League Cup saw Newry City or Portadown drawn at home to Linfield or Institute. Newry City (2010-2011) and Portadown (2008-2009) have both eliminated Linfield from the competition since they last won it.

It’s been so long since Linfield won it, Glenn Ferguson scored the winner in the Final. I’m used now to just writing the competition off. I’m not even confident that we’ll beat Institute.

Next weekend, is a trip to Ards, a ground that has been kind to Linfield in recent years, so hopefully, another win can be notched up to keep the pressure on Glenavon, and everybody else in the League.

If things had worked out differently, it could have been a weekend of groundhopping instead. I’m not sure why I didn’t book it, but I never got round to booking a trip to Northern Ireland’s trip to Austria. If I did, I would have made it a double header and seen in Slovakia v Czech Republic this afternoon. If you care, Czech Republic won 2-1.

Not going to lie, I really wish Linfield were involved in the Scottish Challenge Cup, especially when you see the complete disaster Coleraine made of their trip to Connah’s Quay.

Saturday night game in North Wales, 2.30am boat home and a midnight meal in the Holyhead branch of McDonalds. Sounds like heaven.

Today’s trip to Windsor Park that I did make, was worthwhile and enjoyable.

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MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MATCH – 26.5.1984

Kevin Richardson and John Bailey are the cover stars of Match, which reviews the FA Cup Final, won by Everton by 2-0 against Watford.

Winning the FA Cup wasn’t enough for Everton captain Kevin Ratcliffe, who wanted this to be the springboard for a league title triumph.

In Scotland, Dumbarton have been promoted to the top flight for the first time, with star striker Kenny Ashwood confident his side can shock a lot of people.

One player leaving Scotland is Gordon Strachan, having left Aberdeen for Manchester United, and United striker Frank Stapleton uses his column to predict that Strachan will be an instant hit at Old Trafford.

Match’s preview of Euro 84 continues with Spain this week’s profiled team.

Ian Wallace has left Nottingham Forest for French side Brest, claiming Forest couldn’t afford to keep him.,

After an absence of 14 years, Sheffield Wednesday are back in the top flight, and midfielder Gary Shelton warning First Division sides not to underestimate them.

There is a double page picture special on York City, who won Division Four with more than 100 points.

England face Scotland at Hampden Park in the British Championship, and this match gets a full page profile.

Northern Ireland are also in action, heading to Finland in their first 1986 World Cup Qualifier.

The magazine ends with a poster of Costica Stefanescu of Romania ahead of the build-up to Euro 84.

LINFIELD 2-1 BALLYMENA UNITED 29.9.2018

For the second time this month, Linfield began a match having just been knocked off the top of the table. The last time that happened, they took advantage of other teams being inactive to beat Warrenpoint Town 5-0 and return to the top.

If Linfield were to make another immediate return to the top, they would need Glenavon to drop points at home to Dungannon Swifts. There was no point worrying about what Glenavon did or didn’t do, Linfield had to help themselves.

Glenavon’s win over Ards which knocked Linfield off the top of the table was one of three rescheduled games played in midweek. Another of those was Ballymena United’s draw away to Coleraine.

A draw and a defeat in their last two games has seen them go from being potentially one point behind Linfield to falling a bit behind them. There is a traffic jam at the top of the table, but as we approach the milestone of matchday eleven when everybody will have played each other, Linfield knew if they kept winning, they would pull away from teams, such as Ballymena, if they won this game.

Linfield went into this game with an unchanged starting eleven from the draw at Coleraine. There was the boost, however, of Andrew Waterworth being available for a place on the bench after injury.

This was a match, for me, that would be viewed from The Kop, with the stand being open to Linfield fans for the first time in nearly four and a half years.

Hopefully, it would be a better result than the last time I watched a Linfield match from there in 2014, though Jordan Stewart would be hoping he would again score and be on the winning team. If he was to do so, he would do so from the bench.

This came after Linfield trialled the use of the Railway Stand for a match against Coleraine last season. I always feel that Linfield disadvantage themselves by not allowing fans to be based behind the goal at Windsor Park.

The only issue was not being able to freely move between South and Kop Stands like in the old days, as a lot of us like to watch the game from where we attack (you see this movement of fans at most away games) and would like to continue that at Windsor Park.

I didn’t try it or check it out, but some might like to sneak off to and from The Viewing Lounge, so I don’t know if they were able to. It’ll be trial and error for the first couple of games with these arrangements, so hopefully they’ll evolve to suit as many people as possible.

There were plenty of chances in the opening minutes, for both sides. Matthew Clarke was played through but a poor first touch meant that his shot was going to result in an easy save for Ross Glendenning instead of a goal.

I was at the other end and could see Roy Carroll put his hands on his head before the shot was hit.

Joel Cooper then had a first time right foot shot saved after being played in.

Michael O’Connor then set up the next chance at goal, but it was for Ballymena United when his attempted overhead kick clearance set up Jonny Addis for an overhead kick which went wide.

It was clear from the flurry of early chances that there were going to be goals in this game.

The first one came for Ballymena when a Cahir Friel header snuck in past Jamie Mulgrew on the line.

Going 1-0 down had reminders of the two home games against Ballymena during Warren Feeney’s full season in charge, with Linfield having to come from 1-0 down to win 3-2 and 2-1.

If that gave Linfield hope, so did recent history, with Ballymena blowing leads in the past week against Cliftonville and Coleraine (who had ten men) to lose and draw.

Despite only ten minutes being played, there wouldn’t be a lot of time left to win the game, as we would soon be treated to Ballymena’s timewasting (kicking the ball away at free-kicks, corners and throws) and cynical fouling, all unpunished with the yellow cards they deserved.

If there was no concern for Linfield at 0-1, there would have been concerns at 0-2, which almost happened when Andy McGrory had a free header soon afterwards.

Michael O’Connor equalised when he was able to get in front of his defender and finish from close range.

O’Connor looked set to make it 2-1 from a close range header but was denied by a world class save from an outstretched arm. It was an arm belonging to a Ballymena defender. However, no penalty was awarded.

Daniel Kearns then made some space for himself but fired wide from outside the penalty area as Linfield were unable to take a lead into the break.

After a slow start to the second-half, Linfield took the lead just before the hour mark when Joel Cooper ran at Ballymena’s defence and got into a shooting position on his right foot.

I was behind that goal, and it looked like he was trying to get onto his left foot. It turns out he’s quite decent on his right foot as well, firing home from the edge of the box. I was celebrating as soon as it left his foot.

Chris Casement then spectacularly went just wide as Linfield looked to kill the game, while Kirk Millar had a header saved by Ross Glendenning, whose save was a lot more spectacular than it needed to be.

Linfield couldn’t get the third goal, and the game remained in the balance, as Ballymena looked to get an equaliser, with Johnny McMurray and Tony Kane giving them moments of worry.

As each minute passed, Linfield were in control of the game and never looked like losing their lead, holding on to get the win. They had to as well, with Glenavon getting another win, meaning that the two sides are separated by one point in Glenavon’s favour.

Coleraine and Glentoran both drew, meaning that Glenavon and Linfield are starting to pull away from the rest of the league.

This has taken place over two matchdays, two bad results for either Glenavon or Linfield will see them being sucked back into a traffic jam in the table.

On the next weekend, the top four meet. Hopefully, Coleraine can take something off Glenavon, which would allow Linfield the opportunity to go back to the top.

Regardless of Glenavon’s result, a win at The Oval will see Linfield pull clear of Glentoran and open up a gap from them.

That game is live on Sky Sports. I’m sure you could afford to miss Paddington Station 24/7 just one week.

The weekend’s fixture list begins on Friday with Crusaders facing Cliftonville in the first ever League game live on BBCNI.

It could have been easy for them to choose to show a big team like Linfield, but fair play to them for giving mid table teams like Crusaders and Cliftonville a moment in the spotlight.

Looking a bit further ahead, i’ll be hoping Bohs beat Cork in the FAI Cup Semi-Final and then beat Dundalk in the Final.

Why? I hear you ask. Well, i’m hoping for a short break between Thursday 11th and Saturday 13th July next year, and would not be too unhappy if a Dublin team were at home in the UEFA Cup on Thursday 11th.

Looking further ahead, Euro 2024 will be held in Germany. Very tempted to go to this. However, the lack of options for flights between Northern Ireland and Germany mean that this might be a journey from Dublin.

And finally, you may remember that Belfast Telegraph did an April Fool’s prank that the UEFA Cup Play-Offs will take place on the one day at Windsor Park. Well, Scottish football are doing that with their League Cup Semi-Finals at Hampden Park.

You’ve got to love Scottish football, the only place that makes Irish League football look normal.

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COLERAINE 0-0 LINFIELD 22.9.2018

This match was never going to win the League for Linfield, but a win would have seen them move eight points clear of Coleraine (albeit with a game more played) in late September, which would have been a monumental statement to make in the title race, even at this early stage.

They knew it wouldn’t be easy, as League meetings over the past two seasons were evenly matched, two wins each and four draws.

Last season, they were perfectly matched, a 2-1 win for Coleraine, a 2-1 win for Linfield, then two successive 2-2 draws. In those 2-2 draws, the away team came from 2-0 down with two quickfire goals.

This game was the first in charge for new Coleraine manager Rodney McAree. Surprisingly, he walked to the dugout almost unnoticed, giving a wave to the fans seated in the stand beside the dugout.

To be honest, I was expecting him to take his seat before the teams came out, in an attempt to gee up the home support.

Those that were there to see his debut saw an early corner for Coleraine evade everybody, while a Linfield corner saw Jamie Mulgrew hit a speculative shot over.

About ten years ago, Mulgrew had a run of goalscoring against Coleraine, and because of this, shot at every opportunity. This looked like being another one of those days, as he had another similar effort in the half.

Jamie McGonigle then had an effort saved by Roy Carroll, with nobody following up on the parry.

Coleraine’s attacks were more convincing than Linfield’s, but while Coleraine were having more opportunities, Linfield were always getting bodies in the way. They needed to be.

Coleraine had the better of things at the start of the second-half. Their attacks seemed to be a lot quicker than Linfield’s, but when it came to that final pass or shot, Linfield were able to avert the danger, with Jimmy Callacher having to block a shot after Roy Carroll parried out.

Even though Coleraine weren’t getting many shots on goal, they were having too many attacking moments, that they were bound to get one right.

It looked like that was going to come from a Stephen Lowry header, but it went wide. Jamie McGonigle then headed wide after a flick from Aaron Burns fell to him. He really should have scored.

Linfield’s best attacking moment resulted in Daniel Kearns getting space to shoot, only to see his effort saved.

It was clear that Linfield needed to look to their bench to liven things up. There was no Andrew Waterworth (I presume he was injured) which would have been the obvious change, especially with Michael O’Connor being on a yellow card. The only striking option was Daniel Reynolds.

The realistic attacking options were Jordan Stewart, Stephen Fallon and Niall Quinn. It was Quinn who got the nod, replacing Kirk Millar.

Having survived Coleraine pressure, Linfield were now applying pressure on their own, hoping to make Coleraine pay for not taking advantage when they were on top.

It looked like that was going to happen when Josh Robinson headed towards goal, but his effort hit the bar, with Coleraine able to clear the danger.

If either team were able to break the deadlock, that would surely win the game. It was one of those games. It looked like it was always destined to finish 0-0.

There was late drama as both teams went about changing that.

Jamie McGonigle got in behind Linfield’s defence, but his effort was saved by Roy Carroll just before the goalline. A lucky break for Linfield. Last season, it probably would have been cleared off the line but a goal would have been awarded. Oh, wait …….

Deep into stoppage time, Michael O’Connor had a shot deflected onto the post. The ball went slowly towards the goal. I dared to let myself to believe it was going in.

0-0 it finished, overall, a fair result. Neither side doing enough to win.

Frustrating, as Linfield could have opened up a healthy lead over Coleraine. They did extend their lead over Crusaders by a point, but that comes at the expense of Glenavon now having the opportunity to overtake Linfield if they win their game in hand, which they took, beating Ards 2-0.

I said last week that Linfield’s four point lead was deceptive due to other teams having games in hand, and the table can’t fully be assessed until those games are played.

And don’t forget Glentoran, who will be one point behind Linfield if they win their game in hand, with the sides due to meet on 8th October, live on Sky Sports.

That will be the second live game that weekend, with Crusaders facing Cliftonville on the Friday night as part of a new TV deal announced with BBC NI. Good to see.

Hopefully, we’ll be watching that game with a further three points in the bag and another clean sheet.

Top of the League with seven clean sheets out of eight and trips to Glenavon, Crusaders, Cliftonville and Coleraine out of the way.

That will only be a good foundation if Linfield have title winning home form. That has to start next Saturday.

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MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MATCH – 5.8.1989

Paul McGrath, in action for Republic Of Ireland, is the cover star, as Match leads with the headline “FORCED OUT!”, with McGrath having just left Manchester United for Aston Villa.

As you open the magazine, there is an interview with McGrath, who tells Match that Manchester United’s search for a Central Defender left him with no option but to sign for Aston Villa, almost a year after a move to Tottenham Hotspur broke down.

When you turn over the page, there is an interview with Norman Whiteside, who feels his move to Goodison Park will help his ambition of winning a league title.

With a new season about to start in Scotland, Mo Johnston tells Match he wants to win over the Rangers fans, having previously played for Celtic, adding that he is confident of Rangers making an impression in the European Cup, despite being drawn against Bayern Munich in the group stages.

Staying in Scotland, Hibs goalkeeper Andy Goram has received a dressing down for leaving Hibs pre-season training to play international Cricket for Scotland.

Arsenal will be playing Independiente in a friendly in Miami, which will be broadcast live on ITV that weekend.

Another English club on tour in 1989 were Ipswich Town, becoming the first English club to tour the Soviet Union.

Division Four gets previewed, with both Ian Muir of Tranmere and Tony Grealish of Rotherham expecting Scunthorpe United to win the division in 1990. They finished 11th.

In ads, John Barnes and Graeme Souness were advertising Diadora, while Jennifer Saunders was advertising Nat West.

Match’s cut out A-Z Fixture Lists for English clubs this week cover P to S

Mick Quinn has just signed for Newcastle, but tells Match of his frustration at being priced out of a move to a top flight club due to Portsmouth’s valuation of him.

Neil Webb advertises Nike, and Chris Waddle tells Match he is enjoying life at Marseille.

LINFIELD 3-0 DUNGANNON SWIFTS 15.9.2018

With Robert Prosinecki and Andy Herzog occupying the Manager’s Seat in the away dugout at Windsor Park this week, I was part expecting Gheorghe Hagi to keep up the theme of cult 90s midfielders by taking temporary charge of Dungannon Swifts following the departure of Rodney McAree to Coleraine for a match that wasn’t quite as exciting as a holiday in Salisbury.

It was Terry Fitzpatrick who had the manager’s role for Dungannon today. Even though they had no wins this season or a permanent manager, Dungannon had cause for optimisim as they had a relatively good recent record at Windsor Park, only losing one (and narrowly, 1-0) of their last four visits, and winning on their last visit, against Ballymena United in the League Cup Final.

After four months away from Windsor Park over the close season, this was my third successive Saturday visiting Windsor Park this month. The two previous visits had seen dominance from the home team not rewarded with a win.

Linfield began the game with an unchanged starting eleven from their last game at Warrenpoint. Slightly surprising, as Jamie Mulgrew was now available after suspension, but was on the bench.

That decision may have been made with an eye on the upcoming trilogy of games against Coleraine, Ballymena United and Glentoran.

Linfield had the first attacking moment of note when Michael O’Connor and Joel Cooper combine to pickpocket a Dungannon defender trying to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick, with Cooper crossing for Kirk Millar whose shot went just over.

Michael O’Connor then went close with a spectacular overhead kick as Linfield searched for a goal.

You always felt there was a mistake in Dungannon’s defence. A miscontrol from a pass across the penalty area almost resulted in a chance for Linfield, with some last gasp defending resulting in the concession of a corner.

Even though the goal didn’t come from the sustained pressure, there was no frustration from Linfied’s support.

Eventually, Linfield got the goal when Joel Cooper made space for himself in the penalty area and fired home from a tight angle.

Or did he? On viewing of TV footage afterwards, it appeared to go in off Daniel Kearns. I’ll let the Dubious Goals Committee decide it. It didn’t matter, Linfield had the lead.

Soon afterwards, it was 2-0, when Daniel Kearns found space, only for his shot to hit Michael O’Connor and fall perfectly for Joel Cooper to finish low to make it 2-0.

It may have been a stroke of luck for the ball to fall so perfectly for Cooper, but that’s the way the ball is bouncing for Linfield right now, might as well embrace it.

Dungannon had their own attacking moments, the best of which saw Paul McElroy hit the angle of post and bar.

A head injury for Michael O’Connor saw his game end at half-time, with Andrew Waterworth coming on for him.

Dungannon had their first real sustained period of possession and pressure, the closest they came was when a Chris Hegarty shot was saved by Roy Carroll. Unsurprisingly, with five clean sheets from six games, Linfield were able to see out the danger. Dungannon never looking like picking themselves up for another period of pressure.

Despite that, Linfield still needed a third goal just to be sure. They thought they had it when Joel Cooper fired in low, but the goal was disallowed for a handball.

That denied him a possible hat-trick (he would surely have been awarded the first goal if he had bagged another one). Curiously, September hat-tricks have been a thing for Linfield players in recent years.

Winky Murphy would have had one if it wasn’t for his honesty against Portadown in 2012, having to make do with two goals. Andrew Waterworth got one against Ballymena in 2013, and then four against Warrenpoint in 2015, while Jordan Stewart got one against Ballinamallard on this weekend last year.

There wouldn’t be one for Cooper. He would have to make do with two goals and an assist, or one goal and two assists depending on who gets awarded with the first goal. Still, that is a good afternoon’s work.

Andre Waterworth headed over from close range before later making it 3-0 after a pull back from Niall Quinn.

Quinn had been introduced into the action alongside Jamie Mulgrew in a double substitution for Daniel Kearns and Robert Garrett.

That was the game over. Not much else of note happened as Linfield secured the points. It was a useful three points, as Linfield went four points clear at the top ahead of Glenavon, and five clear of Coleraine, after Coleraine drew with Ards, 0-0, just like Linfield did a fortnight ago.

It is however, a deceptive lead, as games in hand skew the League table.

If Glenavon win their game in hand, they will be one point behind Linfield. If Coleraine win their game in hand, they will be two points behind Linfield. If Glentoran win their game in hand, they will be three points behind Linfield. If Ballymena United win both their games in hand, they will be one point behind Linfield.

Linfield have the points in the bag, but you can’t fully evaluate the League table until the outstanding games are played over the next few weeks.

Next weekend, has some big games, with Linfield travelling to Coleraine while Glenavon are at home to Crusaders.

Even though a draw wouldn’t be the worst result, we have to go there looking for the win, knowing that we could have Coleraine on the ropes by mid September, and pull further clear of Glenavon and/or Crusaders.

With Ballymena United and Glentoran coming up, three wins could knock three rivals for six.

Before Coleraine, is a County Antrim Shield game against the PSNI. Hopefully, some fringe players will get a run out. It’s a game I would expect to win, even though Linfield scraped a draw against the PSNI in pre-season.

That trip to Coleraine, like the trip to Glentoran in early October is pay on the day. I’m pleasantly surprised that Coleraine isn’t all-ticket. I must admit, I did have fears that Linfield fans would be stitched up by a late announcement regarding this.

Elsewhere, it was announced that UEFA are planning on launching a third club competition. We’ll probably be represented by the Steel and Sons Cup winners seeing as we don’t decided UEFA Cup places on merit.

I’m hoping it’s based on the idea floated in 2015, a competition for clubs to drop into when they go out of the European Cup or UEFA Cup before September.

Meanwhile, looking at possibly going away for a weekend in March. Obviously, taking in a football match would be part of the criteria.

The options from Belfast to go to Mainland Europe are bloody awful. Amsterdam is cheap to get to, with Den Haag and Ajsx both at home on seperate days, but hotels are expensive. Prague is expensive to get to, which is a pity as there is a weekend in March with three teams at home. London is a lazy option. Nothing against London, but I don’t want to go every year.

One football trip I definitely am doing is Coleraine away next Saturday.

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NORTHERN IRELAND 1-2 BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA 8.9.2018

They might not have went to the World Cup for the first time since 1986, but 2018 was still a year of firsts for Northern Ireland.

The first three games of the year, against South Korea, Panama and Costa Rica, were the first time they met those opponents.

The forth game of the year, against Bosnia-Herzegovina, was also a first meeting, but it was also Northern Ireland’s first ever game in the UEFA Nations League, a new competition devised by UEFA.

UEFA Nonsense League more like.

The spin that we are given, is that this will replace pointless friendlies. And yet, Northern Ireland are just one of many countries playing pointless friendlies on the nights that they are not involved in UEFA Nations League action.

A simple summary of the competition. Four Leagues, with four groups. Group winners get promoted and bottom team gets relegated, and these placings are used for Euro 2020 rankings.

The highest placed team in each group who doesn’t qualify for Euro 2020 will go into a Play-Off for a place in the finals.

Theoretically, Northern Ireland could lose all Nations League games, all of their Euro 2020 Qualifiers, and go into the Play-Offs because Bosnia and Austria qualified. That is wrong, and an affront to meritocracy.

This is simply an overcomplicated way of giving Azerbaijan a chance of qualifying for Euro 2020.

September 2018 should be the start of Euro 2020 Qualifiers. Top two qualify and third goes into a Play-Off. Just like the good ole days.

Another spin we get given is that it gives smaller or countries of lower standing a better chance of qualifying. Albania, Iceland, Northern Ireland and Wales were able to qualify for Euro 2016 without any assistance or goalposts being moved.

The winners of each group in League A go into a finals tournament for the trophy outright.

Why not have a finals tournament in Leagues B, C and D? That would make sense to give this “Tournament” more prestige.

Could you imagine winning League One, and then getting told you’re not getting a trophy because only the team that finished top of the Premier League gets one.

The main talking point in the build-up to this game regarding Northern Ireland’s starting eleven would be who would start in goal.

Of the three goalkeepers that went to Euro 2016, Michael McGovern, a month short of his 32nd birthday was the youngest. It was clear that Northern Ireland needed new young goalkeepers breaking through.

One of those, Bailey Peacock-Farrell, was in contention with Trevor Carson and Michael McGovern.

If Northern Ireland were playing a friendly first, and then a Nations League match, it would have given Peacock-Farrell an opportunity to get some more game time before featuring in a competitive match, but he was named as the first choice for this game, which wasn’t that surprising given Leeds start to the season.

This was a first competitive game for Bosnia manager Robert Prosinecki, who is no stranger to Windsor Park, having a mixed record in his two previous visits, scoring in a 2-0 win for Yugoslavia in 1990, but being on the end of a 4-0 defeat as manager of Azerbaijan in 2016.

Inside the first minute, Windsor Park was screaming for a penalty when George Saville was untidily taken down by a Bosnian defender, but no penalty was awarded.

What is it with penalty decisions at the Railway Stand?

Northern Ireland were the better team in the opening minutes, Bosnia couldn’t get the ball off them.

Stuart Dallas curled a shot just wide. Dallas had the beating of his man and Northern Ireland tried to get him on the ball every opportunity they could get. Dallas was forming an effective duo with Jamal Lewis, on his competitive debut, hoping to make the left-back spot his own following the retirement of Chris Brunt.

Bosnia were also racking up the yellow cards, unable to cope with Northern Ireland every time they attacked.

George Saville was one of several Northern Ireland players who would be frustrated when he couldn’t get his leg onto a cross, while Kyle Lafferty had a header go wide. The best attacking moment came when Niall McGinn created space for himself out wide, only to see his shot saved by the Bosnian keeper.

Northern Ireland were made to pay for that on 38 minutes when a poor clearance gave possession to Bosnia, Northern Ireland couldn’t get the ball off them, and a cross from Edin Dzecko in space the left was touched home by Haris Duljevic.

It was an undeserved lead for Bosnia, but a lesson for Northern Ireland of the importance of taking your chances.

Bosnia were now confident, but Northern Ireland were able to make sure no further damage was done, getting into the break to clear their heads and go again.

At the start of the second-half, Northern Ireland didn’t appear to be too downhearted by being 1-0 down, being straight on the attack, with Stuart Dallas forcing Bosnia’s keeper to tip over the bar from inside the six yard box.

It was a scuffed effort, but he really should have scored from that position.

Minutes later, a set piece saw Kyle Lafferty have an effort saved on the line by Bosnia’s keeper. It was looking set to be “One of those days”.

That was further confirmed when a poor header by Craig Cathcart saw Bailey Peacock-Farrell get beaten to the ball. by Elvis Saric, who put the ball into the empty net.

It was neither a glorious moment for Cathcart or Peacock-Farrell. They were caught in a trap and couldn’t get out.

If Saric doesn’t chase after the ball, they get away with it. Such are the fine margins at this level of football.

A few minutes later, Saric was subbed. Elvis has left the pitch.

Northern Ireland were now chasing the game, with Bosnia hitting the post on the break.

Michael O’Neill turned to his subs, with Liam Boyce and Will Grigg coming on for Kyle Lafferty and Conor McLaughlin.

The final sub was Jamie Ward coming on for Niall McGinn. Jordan Jones would have been a better option, or even Gavin Whyte, given his start to the season, in the hope that he might have the same impact that Paul Smyth had against South Korea.

Smyth unfortunately is in the Under 21s due to the misfortune of QPR having a manager who doesn’t rate him, despite their poor start to the season.

Boyce had a low shot saved by Bosnia’s keeper while Saville was denied by a last gasp tackle.

Northern Ireland had eighteen corners throughout the game but never really troubled Bosnia’s keeper, who got booked for timewasting as he took a goal kick, which was utterly pointless.

Due to stoppages, and Bosnia’s keeper getting an injury that was treated with a bottle of water being poured over him, there were six minutes of injury time.

After a series of short corners that came to nothing, far too often Northern Ireland were overlaying, trying to be too clever, much to the frustration of the crowd.

Eventually, one lumped into the box got rewarded when Liam Boyce scuffed the ball across goal for Will Grigg to finish from close range. Finally, a bit of luck for Northern Ireland.

There was still four minutes to go, the crowd roared their team forward for one last push.

An equaliser almost came when a header from Jamal Lewis almost found Will Grigg, who stretched, but just couldn’t get his foot onto it. If he did, he would have scored.

Will Grigg might be on fire, but he doesn’t have Carlton Palmer’s legs. Unfortunately.

The performance was there but the result wasn’t. All is not lost. If you can’t get promoted, don’t get relegated.

If Northern Ireland play like this, they will surely get rewarded.

Frustratingly, they aren’t in Nations League action in midweek, if would have been a perfect opportunity to remedy it and get back on track. They’ll be in friendly action while Bosnia host Austria.

A draw wouldn’t be the worst result but an Austrian win would be ideal, meaning that if Northern Ireland can win in Vienna, this result will have been cancelled out with all three teams level.

That friendly on Tuesday is against Israel.

I’ll be giving it a miss as it’s an underwhelming fixture and a team i’ve already seen before. I’ll be keeping an eye out for competitions and freebies, so I might still be there.

If not, I might go out for a peaceful meal. I haven’t been to McDonald’s in ages. I hear the Kennedy Way branch is decent.

Photo Album

WARRENPOINT TOWN 0-5 LINFIELD 7.9.2018

Two successive draws in the League and knocked off the top of the table, it could be easy to suggest that things were going wrong for Linfield. That was far from the case.

The first of those draws, was coming from behind away from home with ten men. The second, against Ards, was a game they should have won, and they had enough chances to do so.

Despite deserving to beat Ards, they didn’t, and it was two points dropped, especially when you saw they other results in Matchday 5, with Glenavon and Glentoran drawing. With Crusaders to face Coleraine, one or both of them would be dropping points. It was an opportunity to pull clear that was missed.

If Linfield felt that a draw at home to Ards was two points dropped, that will be evened up by the fact that Coleraine will probably feel the same about their draw at home to Institute the previous week.

Only separated by one goal (There’s still over thirty games for Linfield to remedy that), Linfield and Coleraine will both be feeling they should have an outright points lead. They face each other on 22nd September. There are still two League matches between now and then. Coleraine shouldn’t even be a thought until then.

Two draws in a row wasn’t cause for concern for Linfield, but a third game without a win would prompt a lot of questions to be asked about Linfield’s title ambitions.

If you were having problems in front of goal and looking to get back to winning ways, Warrenpoint would have been the opponents you would have chosen to face, having conceded seventeen goals in their opening five games, the last of those five games was a 6-1 defeat at home to Ballymena United.

With Coleraine, Crusaders, Glenavon and Ballymena United all not involved in League matches this weekend, this was an opportunity for Linfield to pull clear from the chasing pack, albeit with them having a game in hand.

Linfield started the game looking for goals, with Daniel Kearns almost getting in behind Warrenpoint’s defence straight from kick-off.

Warrenpoint couldn’t get out of their own half, with continued Linfield pressure resulting in Warrenpoint conceding a soft free-kick for a foul on Kirk Millar.

That was punished when the free-kick came in, Simon Kelly diverting the ball into his own net.

Having failed to get a goal against Ards, Linfield were on the scoresheet inside three minutes. As the game went on last week, Ards had something to hold on to. Warrenpoint wouldn’t have that.

Warrenpoint responded well to the goal, having some of the ball in Linfield’s half without troubling Roy Carroll. It was only a temporary respite.

Michael O’Connor went narrowly wide with a shot while Jimmy Callacher had a header cleared off the line.

Warrenpoint goalkeeper Aaron McCarey, on his debut, was so busy, a supporter behind the goal shouted at him “Keeper, I bet you’re wondering what the fuck you’ve signed up to”. Cruel.

Meanwhile, a cat ran onto the pitch during the game. Yes, an actual cat, to cheers from the crowd.

You’ll be glad to know that cat was up in front of Newry Courthouse on Saturday morning charged with Football Related Offences and was issued with a Banning Order.

Proper order too. If we don’t address things like this in Irish League football, next thing there’ll be pigs painted in team colours in grounds and a cockerel walking along the side of the pitch during a game.

More Linfield pressure continued as they searched for a second goal. Despite being in control of the game, Josh Robinson got himself a cheap yellow card for throwing the ball on the ground after a free-kick was awarded against him.

Somebody needs to have a word with him about discipline as it was a stupid yellow card, only a few weeks after needlessly getting involved in situations against Crusaders at Seaview.

With Mark Stafford waiting on the bench, primed for action, he could easily lose his place in the team if he gets suspended for reaching the yellow card threshold.

Eventually, Linfied’s pressure got it’s reward when a free-kick was headed across the six yard box for Daniel Kearns to head home from close range to make it 2-0.

The half ended with more Linfield pressure and a flurry of corners. They just couldn’t get the ball into the back of the net.

Linfield were in a commanding position, but the only case of game set match came in the Tennis Court behind the goal they were attacking.

That was resolved in the early minutes of the second-half when Michael O’Connor finished after his original header hit the bar.

Within a few minutes, if there was any doubt over the result, it was gone when a defensive mix-up saw Joel Cooper get hauled down by Aaron McCarey just as he was about to put the ball into the empty net. A penalty was awarded, and a red card eventually followed.

Substitute goalkeeper Berraat Turker tried to psyche out Andrew Mitchell as he waited to take the penalty. I’m not sure why, the game was over even if he missed. He didn’t, and made it 4-0.

With the game won, David Healy could now give some of his substitutes some game time.

There were goals in this game for Linfield, so it was unsurprising that Andrew Waterworth was given an opportunity to get one. Jordan Stewart also got some minutes. It was a surprise that Niall Quinn came on for Daniel Kearns, as Jonathan Smith or Stephen Fallon would have benefitted from the minutes.

Only one more goal for Linfield, as Waterworth got to a through ball before Turker, and put the ball into the empty net.

A win was the most important thing, but it was nice to do so with no drama, and go get a few goals for the tally. Still a long way to go, but it’s good to get the goals in the bank in case the title is decided on goal difference.

Elsewhere, big news of the day was Oran Kearney’s departure from Coleraine to manage St Mirren. Good luck to him. Hopefully, his departure will have the same destabilising effect that Warren Feeney’s departure had at Linfield in 2015.

If it does, Linfield simply have to take advantage, starting with a home match against Dungannon on Saturday.

It’s been three matches since I saw Linfield win at Windsor Park. If they don’t win this one, I think I might be getting a Banning Order.

Photo Album

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MANCHESTER UNITED – APRIL 1997

David Beckham is the cover star of Manchester United’s official magazine, ad the 1996-1997 season nears it’s final stages.

In adverts, you could be the proud owner of a Manchester United Visa Card.

There are interesting fortunes for United players on international duty. Peter Schmeichel has recorded a single to gee up his Denmark team-mates, while Phil Mulryne scored on his Northern Ireland debut.

In Reviews, there was a review of Premier Manager 97, while in promotions, you could get 24 cans of Red Tribe Lager for only £19.99.

Back to international football, Gary Neville and David Beckham do a diary while they were away on international duty for England’s World Cup Qualifier against Italy.

There are reviews of United’s recent games against Arsenal, Chelsea, Coventry and FC Porto.

As the season is entering the final stages, there is a preview of the title run-in, with United and all the other contenders being assessed.

The magazine ends with Peter Schmeichel taking questions from fans, and believes that recent Coronation Street plots are wild and out of hand.