Well well well, things have just got a little bit interesting.
A shocking run of results in October, preceded by already meant that this was a must-win game. They all are when you have no margin for error.
Defeat was unthinkable, even a draw would be letting Larne away with it. When you have an opportunity to cut the gap, you simply have to take it.
As well as the need to win in terms of the League table, Linfield were under pressure to win because I was missing Sigrid’s concert at The Limelight to see this match. It had better be worth it.
Linfield’s starting eleven saw Kyle McClean come in for Cameron Palmer, who went off injured at Ballymena. A big blow, as he had been outstanding since he broke into the side in mid October.
Although, Linfield would be thankful for McClean’s presence on the pitch in the opening minutes of this game.
Linfield actually spent the opening couple of minutes on Larne’s half. Not a sustained spell of pressure, but having the ball but ultimately, not doing anything to hurt Larne with it.
Larne responded with a cross that flashed across the box, before McClean made a contribution that made Linfield glad he was on the pitch, blocking a goalbound shot in the early minutes.
0-0 after 6 minutes, Linfield had made a better start to this game than in their last meeting against Larne.
You may laugh, but that game was over before it even begun, Linfield gave themselves too much to do even though at one point early in the second-half it looked like it might actually happen.
That looked like Linfield’s gameplan, stay in the game, a team scarred by that game and spooked by Larne scoring four in the first-half against Crusaders a few weeks later.
As much as it was effective in stifling themselves as an attacking force, they also stifled themselves as an attacking force, showing no real attacking intensity, to the frustration of the home crowd.
The first-half was mostly even, although Larne carried the greater attacking threat.
Larne had a few defensive minded players booked in the first-half. If Linfield could go at them in the second-half, there were a few players who would be having second thoughts at jumping into tackles.
Having lost Cameron Palmer through injury at Ballymena, his replacement, Kyle McClean was also forced off through injury, with Stephen Fallon coming in for him.
A welcome return for Fallon, maybe not in the way he was hoping to return to action.
Having scored in Linfield’s last home League match, it looked like it was going to be two in a row for Daniel Finlayson as he got on the end of a free-kick, only to see his header hit the bar, with Sam Roscoe unable to adjust his body to head the rebound in.
Despite not scoring, the crowd were now fired up. They sensed that this game was there for the winning by Linfield.
They were almost behind within a few minutes as Ben Doherty had a shot turned around by Chris Johns.
That header would be Finlayson’s last major involvement in the game, going off injured and replaced by Mike Newberry for his first League appearance since he was sent-off against Glentoran.
I was wondering why Conor Pepper wasn’t brought on instead. What do I know?
Ethan Devine was also brought on.
Matthew Clarke was next to be frustrated when he was unable to get his head on the end of a cross.
Linfield were now on top but needed to take advantage of it.
This was one of those games where it looked there was only going to be one goal in it.
With just over ten minutes to go, it was Linfield who got that goal when Mike Newberry headed home from a free-kick. That was one way to redeem yourself.
And there was me saying that Conor Pepper should have been brought on instead.
When Linfield were getting ready to take the free-kick, Eetu Vertainen was getting ready to be introduced as a substitute.
Those plans didn’t change with the goal, as he replaced Robbie McDaid, but it would be interesting to see if the player being replaced changed when Linfield went 1-0 up.
For those ten and a bit minutes that remained, Linfield were relatively comfortable with their one goal lead.
Well, apart from in injury time when Chris Shields was forced to stretch to get to a flick on in his own six yard box to deny a certain goal.
But apart from that, they were doing ok, but the final whistle or a second goal couldn’t come quick enough.
It was the final whistle that came, as Chris Johns caught a cross.
There’s still a long way to go but Linfield now have a chance, which is a better situation than they were in the last time Larne visited Windsor Park.
Such is the situation they are in, there is no margin for error. They simply have to keep winning.
Especially this game. They certainly couldn’t afford to lose, but when the opportunity to close the gap comes, you have to take it.
Larne looked like they would be happy with a draw and a win would be a bonus.
Having already let Glentoran, Larne and Cliftonville leave Windsor Park with seven points this season, they need to start making it a fortress.
On that note, Crusaders are next at Windsor Park, level on points but just ahead of Linfield by one goal.
Although, Linfield could have pushed themselves to get an 11-0 win that would have taken them 3rd above Glentoran.
Small steps, let’s hope for some more against Crusaders.
It was hoped that December’s football watching would begin at Lansdowne Road, but I had to make do with Coleraine Showgrounds. It doesn’t really matter where you watch your football as long as you’re watching Linfield win.
Although, Linfield did undo that with a draw at home to Warrenpoint Town the following Saturday.
And then, they made up for it by beating Larne away for the first time since 2008, and then beat Ballymena United to go top for the first time all season.
Before undoing that by drawing at home to Glentoran on Boxing Day.