Wind and rain in mid January away to tricky opposition. One of those cliched games that title challenges live or die by.

The result of this match was never going to decide Linfield’s title destiny, but failure to win would have seen them once again return to the point of no return in term of dropped points.

They did win, quite easily, against opposition they struggled against at home twice this season. It was certainly a scoreline that nobody saw coming at half-time.

Linfield were handed a boost on Friday night with the news that Cliftonville were held to a draw by Carrick Rangers.

That meant a win would see them partly reduce the damaged caused by the defeat to Cliftonville on Tuesday night, meaning they would only gain one less point than them over the two games this week.

I’m writing about what I was able to see, most of the game I saw my view blocked by people waddling about the stand, turning up late or walking back and forth to the pub every ten minutes.

It is my sad duty to report that Mourneview Park has been downgraded to a shite away day due to no longer being able to stand behind the goal due to a training pitch being built.

I’d seen it on TV but this was my first time seeing it in the flesh. I’d assumed it was being built on the grass bank but there would still be a small area to stand behind the goal.

The early minutes saw a lot of Linfield pressure.

The first attacking moment of note saw an inswinging free-kick from Kyle McClean (Why not in this weather?) being saved.

Joel Cooper then had a shot tipped over the bar.

From the resulting corner, a bit of a scramble saw the ball fall perfectly for Andrew Clarke to fire home low.

Having struggled (but ultimately) won twice against Glenavon this season, an early lead was most welcome.

The pressure continued as Linfield searched for a second.

Daniel Finlayson had a header saved while Andrew Clarke had a header go just wide.

The next goal of the game, would come for Glenavon, when Conor McCloskey volleyed home low after a lovely cross.

As with Cliftonville’s winner a few days previously, it was a goal that came out of nowhere.

Linfield’s good start had been undone.

There wasn’t quite the same attacking intensity from Linfield after the goal despite spending a lot of time in Glenavon’s half, going in at half-time level.

With Cliftonville drawing the previous night, this was already a big game for Linfield, especially with Glentoran and Larne playing each other. That game was 0-0 at half-time.

It was shaping up to be a great day for Crusaders as things stood.

To be honest, with the cold and the rain, I was thinking at half-time that I would have been happy enough if the Referee abandoned the game, we’ll all go home and try again at a later date.

Eetu Vertainen had Linfield’s first chance of the second-half when he fired wide after a cross.

Not long after that, Sam Roscoe created space for himself to finish with his left foot, creating a niche for himself as a scorer of important goals in tight games in Mid Ulster.

The floodgates opened, ironically as the rain died down.

Within a few minutes, Eetu Vertainen finished from close range after a cross, and Linfield were now in control. Not quite three points in the bag, but they could only blow them from here.

Daniel Finlayson looked like he was going to make it 4-1 when he was played through on goal in a wide position before being taken down.

Linfield fans were screaming for a penalty, it was a clear penalty, but there was a delayed reaction from the Referee. Eventually, a penalty was awarded.

Chris Shields stepped up to make it 4-1.

It was now safe to say that the points were in the bag.

David Healy turned to his bench, resting a few players and giving much needed minutes to others, such as Chris McKee and Jordan Stewart.

Linfield fans were now in a party mood. That mood was almost boosted further when Jordan Stewart spectacularly tried his luck from long range, narrowly missing.

There weren’t many opportunities for Glenavon. The did offer a set piece that cause Linfield problems, but there was always enough bodies in the way to block the danger.

Linfield then got another penalty, the same outcome as the previous time, with Chris Shields making it 5-1, and Linfield were now set for their biggest win at Mourneview Park since David Jeffrey was in charge.

For the last time in fact, a 5-2 win in April 2014.

Max Haygarth then came on for his debut and scored with his first touch. All downhill from there.

A lovely clean sidefoot finish from inside the penalty area. One of those where you knew the ball was going to go in before it went to him.

His second touch was a miskick that went wide. Rubbish. Sell him.

Glenavon had to endure two minutes of injury time. There was no sympathy from the Referee like when they lost 7-0 at Windsor Park in 2019 and got two seconds.

They managed to keep a clean sheet for what was left of the game, which finished 6-1 to Linfield, a score that not many saw coming at half-time.

Suddenly, I was quite glad that the abandonment that was secretly hoping for at half-time didn’t happen.

It was a productive day for Linfield, on a weekend where Glentoran and Cliftonville dropped points, as they aim to keep chipping away at the gap at the top, where they aim to be in may.

Onto Seaview for the County Antrim Shield Final.

Photo Album


November began with a trip to Shamrock Park to see Linfield eventually beat Portadown by a score of 3-0.

By this point, I was using up Annual Leave, so I went on a day trip to Dublin and got some Street Art photos.

That was then followed by two trips to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Cliftonville and Glenavon.

Another Linfield match, this time on the road, to Ballymena.

The next day, I made the most of a football free Saturday morning to head to Lisnabreeny Hill to get some Sunrise photos.

Then that night, I made my first visit to the newly rebuilt Mandela Hall to see John Power in concert.

November ended with two Linfield matches, both at home, against Larne and Crusaders.

Portadown v Linfield

Dublin Street Art

Dublin Street Art Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Linfield v Glenavon

Ballymena United v Linfield

Lisnabreeny Hill

Lisnabreeny Hill Photo Album

John Power live at Mandela Hall

John Power live at Mandela Hall Photo Album

Linfield v Larne

Linfield v Crusaders


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


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

LINFIELD 2-1 GLENAVON 12.11.2022

When you need three points, it doesn’t matter how you get them. For the second time in a matter of weeks, Linfield got them against Glenavon. Just about.

Points dropped and inactivity due to cup competitions meant that Linfield were up against it in the title race. They had only just got back into the Top 6.

It’s a long way up to the top, but there was an opening for Linfield.

The previous evening, Coleraine and Glentoran entertained BBC Two viewers with a 0-0 draw.

That meant, that if Linfield could win this game, they would pull three points clear of Coleraine into the dizzy heights of 5th, and make up three points on Glentoran over two matchdays, and to put a bit of pressure on Crusaders ahead of their Monday night game.

Small steps, but you still have to take them if you want to get to where you are going.

A new face in the Linfield starting eleven in the shape of the lesser seen Chris McKee, but he was still part of a one up front, with Robbie McDaid pushed out wide.

Despite that, it was a lot better from Linfield in the early minutes as an attacking force, but it was Glenavon who had the first shot on goal, held by Chris Johns at the second attempt, lucky that there was nobody in the vicinity following up.

Eventually, Linfield cut Glenavon open, with Robbie McDaid stretching to get on the end of a Matthew Clarke cross but was denied at close range by Glenavon’s keeper making himself big.

Joel Cooper then shot just over as Linfield searched for an early goal to calm the nerves.

When every game is a must-win, you feel you need to get in front as soon as possible.

Linfield’s task got a lot harder when Joel Cooper had to go off injured.

There was a theme to recent games that if he doesn’t play well, Linfield don’t play well. When he is playing well, you feel a goal for Linfield is only a matter of time.

Luckily, Kirk Millar was back on the bench after his own injury to come on. With Jordan Stewart still injured, Linfield could really do without three creators sitting injured.

Linfield continued to attack at a slow and pedestrian pace, only really picking up the speed as the half neared it’s end.

Once again, it was another poor first-half display. The stats are quite interesting, with only one first-half lead (1-0 v Newry) in the League in six games, and no two goal lead since Ballymena in September.

I’m not sure if there’s much to read into that, but you don’t seem to expect Linfield to have a game wrapped up with time to spare these days.

There was a brief upturn in attacking performance in the opening minutes, the best moment was a Cameron Palmer effort that looked like it was going in but just swerved wide at the vital moment.

Chris McKee was played through but was denied by a block which turned the ball out for a corner as Linfield looked to get the breakthrough. This was much better from Linfield.

Sam Roscoe and Chris McKee were then denied after a scramble. The ball would just not go in.

Of course, we all knew what was around the corner with each missed chance.

And it happened, when a long range shot from Micheal Glynn put Glenavon 1-0 up.

In response, Eetu Vertainen came on from the bench.

The equaliser, when it came, came from a surprise source, with Daniel Finlayson finishing from close range after a Jimmy Callcher across the box from a free-kick.

His first competitive goal for Linfield (He did score against St Mirren in a pre-season friendly) and it was most welcome. There was still nearly half an hour to play.

Andrew Clarke had Linfield’s next big chance. but his well struck shot from a Robbie McDaid pullback was well saved.

McDaid set up Linfield’s next big chance, and it was a big chance, when he crossed for Eetu Vertainen a few yards out.

He got the power on it but not the direction, and the ball went wide. He should have scored. It was looking like one of those days.

Andrew Clarke was through but fired over as Danny Wallace charge towards him to make a block. Another golden opportunity wasted.

In a strange way, at that point you knew that Linfield were going to win the game.

There was no way they were going to create and miss this many chances and not get the points.

Yes, it does sound strange, but if you were at the game, you will know exactly what I mean.

Surely they would get at least one more big chance before the final whistle.

Having created chances for others to miss, Robbie McDaid decided to create a chance for himself.

Out of nothing, he fired home from just outside the box to put Linfield 2-1 up.

McDaid now getting the goals his performances deserved.

Big ones as well. An opener in a tricky trip to Newry, clincher at Portadown and now this to put Linfield 2-1 up on an afternoon where it all threatened to go wrong.

The points were far from won, there was still just under ten minutes to play, plus a bit of injury time due to Glenavon’s timewasting at throw-ins and free-kicks.

When Linfield are chasing the game, the right amount of injury time never seems to be played.

Having arsed about at stoppages at 0-0, 0-1 and 1-1, Glenavon were suddenly in a hurry.

Their keeper was even coming up for corners before the clock hit 90. That’s how impatient they were.

Considering how the afternoon had went so far, you were expecting him to head in an equaliser.

Thankfully not, as Linfield held on for the win that puts them clear in 5th.

Not exactly where they wanted to be, but small steps in the right direction.

They’ll have to put in better performances if they want to make bigger steps in the right direction.

Photo Album

LINFIELD 3-2 GLENAVON 18.10.2022

As the teams were in the tunnel getting ready to head onto the pitch, the tannoy at Windsor Park began playing Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie.

Of all the songs by Queen, this was a rather unfortunate, or perhaps appropriate, as that is what Linfield were feeling after one point and no goals from games against Coleraine and Glentoran.

I would rather Linfield’s plight be soundtracked by Don’t Stop Me Now.

In truth, there are a number of Queen songs that could have soundtracked this match.

With Linfield needing to win some of their games in hand, it looked like being a case of Another One Bites The Dust when Glenavon went 2-1 up, with David Healy probably thinking It’s A Hard Life as his side were struggling to make a Breakthru, as it looked like they were heading Headlong into the abyss.

Then came The Miracle, as Eetu Vertainen produced A Kind Of Magic than reminded people why We Are The Champions.

Too many dropped points and not enough games played to try and make up the gap means that, even at this early stage, Linfield simply cannot afford to drop any points whatsoever.

The starting eleven brought an end to 4-5-1 and a return to 4-4-2.

You could see straight away that Linfield were offering more of an attacking threat and had bodies going forward.

They almost had a dream start when Matthew Clarke headed wide from a cross in the opening minutes. He probably should have scored.

Glenavon weren’t exactly afraid to have a go, Calum Birney heading against the post from a set piece.

You could tell there would be goals in this game.

Robbie McDaid was next to be frustrated when his shot from a wide angle agonisingly went across the six yard box but not into the net.

Eventually the goal did come for Linfield, when Kirk Millar controlled with his right foot and finished with his left.

This was a night when Linfield simply had to get the first goal.

A team with brittle confidence, it could easily have been destroyed if they went 1-0 down.

Although, the way that Glenavon had been having a go, this game was far from over. They needed at least a two, possibly three goal lead before they could become comfortable.

There wasn’t quite the onslaught you would hope that goal would bring. You didn’t feel that a second goal was imminent.

Robbie McDaid had a curling shot easily saved while Jimmy Callacher hit the post stretching at a set piece from a wide angle.

After a bright early start, Linfield’s attacking intensity had dropped, there were no clear chances created.

Despite that, they looked set to go in at half-time 1-0 up. A decent foundation to work from.

Nope. It was too good to be true.

As the half entered it’s final moments, Glenavon equalised when a low cross found an unmarked Matthew Fitzpatrick to jink past Sam Roscoe to finish from close range.

It was such a poor goal to concede, Linfield’s defence all over the place.

This was always a danger having not killed the game off when they went 1-0 up.

The second-half meandered and drifted. It was hard to see where Linfield were going to get a goal from. Suddenly, they were going to need two goals.

An uncontested drop ball after an injury to a Linfield player (the ball had went out for a Glenavon throw) was played back into the box and headed home by Matthew Fitzpatrick.

Despite the need for a goal, there never looked like being a goal for Linfield.

Then, out of the blue, a goal for Linfield when Joel Cooper finished low from the edge of the box.

Even though Linfield had come back to life, the expected onslaught failed to materialise.

In fact, it was Jimmy Callacher who had to make a block to deny Robert Garrett from scoring.

Then, on 87 minutes, Eetu Vertainen was unmarked at a corner and controlled and smashed the ball into the net to put Linfield 3-2 up.

It was a much needed goal.

There was a sense of irony that the goal came from an outswinging corner from Joel Cooper.

If Kirk Millar hadn’t been substituted, he probably would have taken an inswinging corner.

Although, Vertainen was in so much space, he probably would have scored if it was an inswinging corner.

The quality of Linfield’s set pieces is something that really annoys me.

Every time it is an inswinger, no variation.

Teams can defend that in their sleep. Mix and match, do something different when the same thing doesn’t work time and time again.

Even with so little time remaining, it still didn’t guarantee the three points. Not the way this game had gone.

Thankfully, Linfield were able to see the game out, getting a much needed three points.

The result was there but the performance wasn’t.

As good as Glenavon played, they were encouraged to do so by Linfield’s performance.

But the important thing is getting results, just keep getting them to see your way through this sticky period.

The performances would need to improve quickly though, with Larne due at Windsor Park next.

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


November 2021 was a mixed bad for Linfield with away trips, to Portadown, Crusaders and Glenavon.

Oh, and there was a home match against Cliftonville sandwiched inbetween that, before a midweek home match against Carrick Rangers on the last day of the month.

Portadown v Linfield

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Cliftonville

Glenavon v Linfield

Linfield v Carrick Rangers


Due to matches being postponed due to International Call-Ups, September’s football watching took a while to get going, having to wait until the middle of the month for my first match, Linfield’s trip to Portadown.

For me, like a lot of others, it was a first away trip since March 2020.

It was, eventually, an enjoyable trip with Linfield winning 3-2.

That was then followed by a home match against Coleraine, and trips to Glenavon and Glentoran.

Portadown v Linfield

Linfield v Coleraine

Glenavon v Linfield

Glentoran v Linfield


They’re all must-win at this time of year, but especially when results from other games on Friday night were processed.

If Linfield were hoping for favours, they were to be disappointed as Glentoran and Cliftonville were able to navigate potentially tricky away games on Friday night. For Linfield, this game was now about maintaining a lead rather than extending it.

Linfield had a lot of the ball in Glenavon’s half in the early minutes but weren’t going anywhere with it on a day when Linfield really needed an early goal.

Perhaps Linfield fans had been spoilt by 7-0 and 8-1 wins over Glenavon in recent years, but the key to those wins was getting an early goal and not giving Glenavon something to hold on to. We even saw that in the two meetings with Glenavon this season, a 3-0 win in November and a 0-0 draw in September underlining the importance of getting an early goal.

It looked like that would come when Kyle McClean got on the end of a cross, but with the ball behind him, he couldn’t adjust his body to drag his foot along the ground to make contact with the ball.

A Glenavon defender got there first and booted the ball out for a corner, an action that could have went awry with hilarious consequences, but unfortunately for Linfield, it didn’t.

Once Glenavon rode that out, they had some attacks of their own, causing Linfield moments of worry. Danny Wallace being denied by a tackle when he looked set to score being the best of them, as well as Niall Quinn having to make a clearance as the ball was driven across the six yard box.

Linfield responded with a Stephen Fallon shot which forced Glenavon’s keeper into a spectacular save as the sides went in level at half-time.

As the half neared it’s end, Robert Garrett had an opportunity across goal when he probably should have scored.

It was a half that saw Linfield have most of the ball but Glenavon be more effective with their use of the ball.

As the teams re-entered the pitch to start the second-half, Linfield fans were expecting their side to go straight at Glenavon from kick-off.

There was only 27 seconds to wait for the first attempt on goal, but it came for Glenavon, a header for Matthew Fitzpatrick that he really should have done better with.

Linfield responded immediately, and the ball fell perfectly for Kyle McClean to have a strike on goal, but Glenavon’s keeper was able to rush out and make himself big, Peter Schmeichel style, to block the shot.

Sam Roscoe and Ahmed Salam were then denied, and we were still nowhere near the hour mark.

Both teams had left the dressing room with the intention of going 1-0 up as soon as possible.

Time was still on Linfield’s side, but it was feeling like it was time for Chris McKee.

Linfield still need an experienced striker in this window, and to rely on McKee would be a big gamble.

His brief cameo against Ballymena United was promising, as is the fact that he scored twice in a reserve match against the same opponents. Not quite hit the ground running, but off to a good start.

That time came, as part of a double change, with him and Mike Newberry coming on for Niall Quinn and Ahmed Salam.

I assume that Quinn was injured as Newberry was warming up for a long time prior to coming on.

It looked like Glenavon were going to take the lead with a long range shot from Matthew Snoddy that had to be tipped over.

Eventually, Linfield took the lead when a cross from Jamie Mulgrew evaded evaded everybody it seemed until it landed perfectly for Christy Manzinga to fire in low under the keeper.

Who else did you expect to open the scoring?

Just seconds earlier, he was lying on the ground after a challenge, as Southstanders were screaming at him to get back on his feet and get on with the game.

Thankfully, he did, to devastating effect.

Before the ball went to Jamie Mulgrew, the ball was worked to him via some passing between Chris McKee and Kirk Millar, who seem to have worked out an understanding already.

For the fourth time in six matches, it was looking like 1-0 to the Linfield. Good for results but not good for the nerves. Only George Graham could enjoy it.

As said last week, scoring a goal isn’t a problem, it’s scoring goals.

As good as Linfield’s defensive record has been this season, and it has been excellent (famous last words), they won’t get away with relying on it all season.

Thankfully, on 88 minutes, there was a second goal for Linfield, when Jamie Mulgrew crossed for Chris McKee to head home from close range.

If you want to feel old, he was born in the week leading up to the 2002 Irish Cup Final.

And finally, the home fans could relax and enjoy the one minute plus injury time that remained with the points in the bag.

Really got to enjoy those four minutes.

It was another impressive cameo from McKee who offers something different to Linfield, both up front and out wide if Christy Manzinga moves out there.

As said previously, there is a potential for a bloodbath at the top of the table with the Top 6 playing each other.

It looks like this was the weekend when it became a three horse race with Larne and Crusaders now out of it.

Larne were probably out before this weekend but you could have made a case for Crusaders. Three teams aren’t above them aren’t going to implode at the same time.

Things now get tasty for Linfield, with two road trips, first to Solitude to take on Cliftonville.

What a boost it would be to get the three points and leave Cliftonville gasping for air in the title race.

As Linfield discovered on Friday night, they can’t rely on others, they just have to go out and help themselves.

Photo Album